Imperial Valley Press

Michael Cohen to testify Monday in Trump hush-money probe


Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen is scheduled to testify Monday before a Manhattan grand jury investigat­ing hush-money payments made on the former president’s behalf, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. They were not authorized to speak publicly about grand jury proceeding­s and did so on condition of anonymity.

Cohen is a key witness in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigat­ion and his testimony is coming at a critical time, as prosecutor­s close in on a decision on whether to seek charges against Trump. Prosecutor­s sometimes save their most important witnesses until the end stages of a grand jury investigat­ion.

Cohen has been meeting regularly with Manhattan prosecutor­s in recent weeks, including a day- long session Friday to prepare for his appearance before the grand jury, which has been hearing evidence in the matter since January.

Cohen declined to comment to reporters as he left the meeting, saying he’d be “taking a little bit of time now to stay silent and allow the D.A. build their case.”

The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which thus far has declined to comment on the investigat­ion, also declined to address whether Cohen would testify before the grand jury.

Trump continued to lash out at the probe on social media Friday, calling the case a “Scam, Injustice, Mockery, and Complete and Total Weaponizat­ion of Law Enforcemen­t in order to affect a Presidenti­al Election!”

Prosecutor­s appear to be looking at whether Trump committed crimes in arranging the payments, or in how they were accounted for internally at Trump’s company, the Trump Organizati­on. One possible charge would be falsifying business records, a misdemeano­r unless prosecutor­s could prove it was done to conceal another crime.

No former U.S. president has ever been charged with a crime.

Prosecutor­s this week invited Trump to testify before the grand jury — another sign that phase of the investigat­ion is winding down. Inviting the subject of an investigat­ion to appear before a grand jury is typically one of the last steps before a potential indictment.

Trump has the right to testify under New York law, though legal experts say he is unlikely to do so because it wouldn’t benefit his defense and he’d have to give up a cloak of immunity that’s automatica­lly granted to grand jury witnesses under state law.

Cohen served prison time after pleading guilty in 2018 to federal charges, including campaign finance violations, for arranging the payouts to porn actor Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal to keep them from going public. Trump has denied the affairs.

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