The Manhattan district attorney’s office is set to begin presenting evidence to a grand jury Monday regarding Donald Trump’s alleged role in getting hush money payments to an adult film star during his 2016 presidential campaign, people familiar with the matter told The New York Times.
The development brings prosecutors one step closer to possibly filing criminal charges against Trump, marking a major escalation in the longest-running criminal investigation into the former president regarding his alleged affair with the porn star Stormy Daniels.
The district attorney’s office declined to comment on the report.
The saga began in 2018 when The Wall Street Journal published a bombshell report alleging that Michael Cohen, then a longtime attorney for Trump, paid Daniels $130,000 one month before the 2016 election to silence her from speaking out about the alleged affair.
Cohen later admitted to making the payments in violation of campaign finance laws, and was sentenced to three years in federal prison. Trump, however, has denied that he directed Cohen to pay off Daniels, and said the payments did not come from his campaign.
The Times reported that one of the witnesses, former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, was seen on Monday entering the Manhattan building where the grand jury had assembled. Pecker’s tabloid helped broker the deal with Daniels, and in 2018 he received immunity in exchange for testifying about Trump’s knowledge of the payments.
Prosecutors have also been contacting several people who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign, sources told the Times.
This is just one of multiple criminal probes scrutinizing the former president. He’s under investigation by the Justice Department for the large volume of highly sensitive, classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago estate last year, as well as for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 election. A Georgia court has also assembled a grand jury to investigate his alleged role in the effort to overturn the state’s election results.