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Trump lashes out as grand jury to hear evidence on porn star payoff scheme

Donald Trump lashed out at the Manhattan district attorney and claimed he “never had an affair” after it was revealed that a grand jury would hear evidence on hush money payments to adult film star Stormey Daniels.

Prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office have started presenting a recently empaneled grand jury with evidence regarding the hush money paid to keep Ms Daniels from revealing his adulterous affair with her before the 2016 election.

“They long ago missed the Statute of Limitations, & I recently won big money against ‘Stormy’ in the 9th Circuit - NEVER HAD AN AFFAIR. This is old news!” Mr Trump said on Truth Social.

According to The New York Times, former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, a witness who helped arrange the payment agreement between Mr Trump and adult across Stormy Daniels, was seen entering the New York City building where the grand jury is meeting.

Citing people knowledgable about the matter, the Times reported that Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office is now laying groundwork to seek an indictment of the twice-impeached ex-president and will soon make a decision about whether to do so.

Prosecutors also recently met with another potential witness in the case, Mr Trump’s ex-personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.

Cohen was the person reponsible for delivering the payments to Ms Daniels at Mr Trump’s direction, according to court documents federal prosecutors filed when Mr Cohen was indicted on federal charges related to the scheme. He later pleaded guilty and spent time in federal prison before being released to home confinement during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At a 2018 plea hearing, Cohen told a Manhattan federal judge that he’d made payments to Ms Daniels “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” with the candidate in question being Mr Trump.

“I participated in this conduct, which on my part took place in Manhattan, for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016,” he said at the time.

The charges Mr Trump could face stemming from the scheme could potentially focus on whether the former president’s company falsified business records to disguise the payments to Mr Cohen as compensation for legal services, rather than as reimbursement for a loan he took out to finance the payment he made for Mr Trump to Ms Daniels.