HomePoliticsExpected indictment in payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels

Expected indictment in payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels

Secret Service will stay with Trump if he’s arrested, work to keep him out of public view

U.S. Secret Service is seen during President Donald Trump campaign speech just four days before Election Day outside of Raymond James Stadium on October 29, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.

Octavio Jones | Getty Images

The Secret Service agents who guard Trump plan to stay with him the entire time that he is booked by law enforcement in New York if he ends up being arrested, NBC News reported.

The Secret Service also will make every effort to keep him out of public view when he’s being booked, a former agency official said.

NBC reported that the Secret Service has studied New York’s criminal code to prepare for a potential indictment of Trump, who has lifetime protection from the agency.

If Trump is sentenced to jail, agents also would stay with him unless either Congress or Trump asked them not to do so.

— Dan Mangan

Trump loses bid to combine separate civil lawsuits in rape defamation accusations

E. Jean Carroll attends a cocktail party in 2015.

Astrid Stawiarz | Getty Images

Trump lost a bid to have two separate civil lawsuits alleging he slandered a writer who accuses him of rape combined into one trial.

But the first of those planned trials, which was supposed to begin April 10, has been postponed indefinitely.

Both Trump and his accuser, E. Jean Carroll, asked Judge Lewis Kaplan to consolidate her two suits, both of which claim Trump defamed her. Carroll’s second lawsuit also contains a claim of battery, for her allegation that Trump raped her after a chance encounter in a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s.

Kaplan ruled that attorneys for both sides overestimated the benefit of combining the cases.

And the judge noted that the first case could end up getting dismissed by a Washington, D.C., federal appeals court based on the argument that Trump was acting within his job duties as president when he told reporters Carroll was lying in 2019 when she went public with her account.

Both cases are pending in Manhattan federal court. That is just down the street from New York state court, where a grand jury has been hearing testimony in a criminal investigation into whether Trump had his then-lawyer pay off porn star Stormy Daniels right before the 2016 election.

— Dan Mangan

GOP House committee chairs demand Trump case documents from DA Bragg

Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) speaks during a House Committee hearing on “Oversight of the Department of Homeland Security” on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on April 28, 2022.

Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images

Three Republican chairmen of House committees have issued a new letter to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, demanding records and interviews related to the Trump hush money case.

“Your decision to pursue such a politically motivated prosecution…requires congressional scrutiny about how public safety funds appropriated by Congress are implemented by local law-enforcement agencies,” says the letter, dated Monday and signed by Judiciary Committee chair Jim Jordan of Ohio, Oversight Committee chair James Comer of Kentucky and Rep. Bryan Steil of Wisconsin, who leads the House Committee on Administration.

The letter follows Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s announcement over the weekend that he would instruct committees to look into the expected prosecution of former President Donald Trump.

The letter demands all documents and communications between New York state and federal law enforcement on the case against Trump since the start of 2017. It also demands that Bragg sit for an interview, and that Bragg’s office provide information about any funds it receives from the federal government.

The letter gives Bragg three days to produce the information.

— Christina Wilkie

Bob Costello, former legal adviser to Michael Cohen, will testify before grand jury considering Trump’s case

Steve Bannon (C), advisor to former President Donald Trump, appears with members of his legal team outside of the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse on June 15, 2022 in Washington, DC. Bannon appeared before a federal judge in connection with his indictment for contempt of Congress for failing to respond to a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee on January 6. Also pictured are Bannon’s attorney David Schoen (2nd L) and attorney Robert J. Costello (L).

Win Mcnamee | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Robert “Bob” Costello, once a legal adviser to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, will testify before a grand jury considering the former president’s hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels during his 2016 election campaign, NBC News reported.

Trump’s legal team asked the district attorney in Manhattan to allow Costello to testify, indicating that he may contradict Cohen’s testimony. Cohen, who has said Trump directed him to pay Daniels $130,000 to quash allegations that she and Trump slept together before he became president, is considered a key witness in the hearing.

Costello said Cohen waived his attorney-client privilege in 2019 and said Sunday that he never signed a retainer agreement. Cohen, meanwhile, said Costello never represented him.

— Chelsey Cox

Mike Pence says Trump indictment would be a ‘politically charged prosecution’

Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the Young America’s Foundation Student Conference on July 26, 2022 in Washington, DC. Pence outlined a conservative agenda and took questions about Taiwan and his relationship with former President Donald Trump.

Nathan Howard | Getty Images

Former Vice President Mike Pence said that the expected arrest of his ex-boss, former President Trump, by Manhattan prosecutors would amount to a “politically charged prosecution.”

“I’m taken aback at the idea of indicting a former president of the United States,” Pence said in an ABC News interview that aired Sunday.

“At a time when there’s a crime wave in New York City, the fact that the Manhattan DA thinks that indicting President Trump is his top priority I think — tells you everything you need to know about the radical left,” he said.

“It just feels like a politically charged prosecution,” Pence said, adding, “for my part, I just feel like it’s just not what the American people want to see.”

Those remarks came as Pence is openly weighing a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, putting him in competition with Trump, who has already been on the campaign trail for months.

Pence’s relationship with Trump imploded after the then-vice president refused to participate in an effort to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden. Trump, who had spent months denying the results of that election, pressured Pence to reject key Electoral College votes for Biden when presiding over a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. After Pence refused, a violent mob of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol, forcing Pence and members of Congress to flee their chambers.

Asked in the ABC interview about Trump’s calls for protest in response to his expected indictment, Pence said, “I believe that people understand that if they give voice to this, if this occurs ton Tuesday, then they nee to do so peacefully and in a lawful manner.”

Pence declined to weigh in on the merits of the Manhattan DA’s possible case against Trump.

Kevin Breuninger

Florida Gov. DeSantis attacks Manhattan DA over possible Trump charges

U.S. President Donald Trump listens to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speak about the coronavirus response during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 28, 2020.

Carlos Barria | Reuters

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is widely expected to be considering a Republican presidential bid, took aim at the Manhattan district attorney over his expected prosecution of Trump.

The governor slammed DA Alvin Bragg as a “Soros-funded prosecutor” but offered little in defense of Trump, who is currently the frontrunner in the GOP presidential primary field.

“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair, I just, I can’t speak to that,” DeSantis said at a news conference, prompting laughter from his audience.

“But what I can speak to is if you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction and he chooses to go back many many years ago to try to use something about porn star hush money payments, that’s an example of pursuing a political agenda,” he added.

The remarks came as some of Trump’s allies and campaign surrogates have taken note of DeSantis’ silence about the possibility of criminal charges being filed against the former president.

DeSantis is expected to announce his presidential plans some time after the current Florida legislative session ends on May 5. Though he has yet to make his campaign official, polls of the potential primary field show him as Trump’s biggest rival for the Republican nomination.

Kevin Breuninger

In separate legal fight in Georgia, Trump tries to block grand jury report and possible prosecution

The Fulton County court in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Monday, Feb. 13, 2023.

Dustin Chambers | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Trump is seeking to block the release of a special purpose grand jury report in Fulton County, Ga., where he could be facing charges in a separate criminal case looking at whether he illegally interfered with the state’s election process in 2020.

In a 52-page court filing Monday morning in Fulton County Superior Court, Trump’s attorneys asked to quash that report and to bar the use of any evidence gathered by that panel.

The filing, which also included more than 400 pages of exhibits, additionally sought to disqualify the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, which has been conducting the criminal probe, from being involved in the case.

The Atlanta-area probe has spent the last two years investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in Georgia in the 2020 election, in part by tossing out enough ballots cast for Biden to erase his victory.

The Georgia investigation has been considered a leading threat to end with criminal charges against Trump, who is the top contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. He’s facing three other major pending criminal probes, including the Manhattan District Attorney’s office that’s investigating whether Trump illegally concealed a payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence during the 2016 election.

Kevin Breuninger

House Speaker McCarthy criticizes expected criminal charge, opposes protests

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) listens to a question during a news conference in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. February 2, 2023. 

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy criticized the idea of criminally charging his fellow Republican Donald Trump, but opposed a call by the former president for protests in New York over his expected indictment.

“Lawyer after lawyer will tell you this is the weakest case out there, trying to make a misdemeanor a felony,” McCarthy said at the House Republicans’ retreat in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday.

But the California lawmaker also said, “I don’t think people should protest this, no. And I think President Trump, if you talk to him, he doesn’t believe that, either.”

Trump has said the exact opposite in a social media post, where he wrote that he “will be arrested on Tuesday,” and called on supporters to “Protest, take our nation back.”

McCarthy was among hundreds of lawmakers who fled to safety after a mob of Trump supporters invaded Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. The riot, which began after weeks of false claims by Trump that he had actually won the 2020 presidential election, disrupted for hours a joint session of Congress that was in the process of confirming the Electoral College victory of President Joe Biden.

Dan Mangan

Manhattan DA Bragg tells staff safety is ‘top priority’ after Trump protests urged

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks at a news conference after former U.S. President Donald Trump’s White House chief strategist Steve Bannon arrived to surrender, in New York, U.S., September 8, 2022. 

Caitlin Ochs | Reuters

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg told his staff in an email that he will “not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York,” after Trump called on his supporters to protest his expected indictment.

Bragg also said in an email to staff, obtained by NBC News, that their safety is a “top priority,” and that the office’s law-enforcement parts are working on “proper safeguards … so all 1,600 of us have a secure work environment.”

Trump in a social media post wrote, “THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK.”

“PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” wrote Trump, who is seeking the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

Trump also called on his supporters to protest after he lost the 2020 election, resulting in a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021 that has led to at least 1,000 arrests and more than 500 guilty pleas or convictions.

Dan Mangan

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