The investigation into former President Donald Trump’s alleged payout to an adult entertainment performer might be entering its final stages, according to a report by the New York Times. Hope Hicks, a former Donald Trump aide, was seen going into the Manhattan district attorney’s office on March 6, the article said.
Donald Trump Has a Problem
The DA accuses Trump of paying Daniels money to guarantee her silence about an extramarital affair. Trump is accused of engineering a payment of $130,000 to Daniels that would have been delivered by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, before the 2016 election. Trump later allegedly paid Cohen back for the transaction with his own money.
Last week, 2016 campaign manager Kellyanne Conway gave testimony to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Others who are believed to have testified include employees of the Trump organization, as well as personnel from the National Enquirer who were allegedly involved in the payment arrangement.
Daniels, whose official name is Stephanie Clifford, has alleged that she took the payment in return for a promise to remain silent and not disrupt the presidential election campaign and Trump’s marriage. Trump has denied that he ever had an affair with Daniels.
Hicks, who has been close to Trump for years, may have just been meeting with Bragg, or she could have been testifying to a grand jury. Either way, prosecutors believe that Hicks may have inside knowledge of any possible arrangement between Donald Trump and Daniels.
Hicks has said she wasn’t involved with any payment, but The FBI found that Hicks “participated in a phone call with Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen on the same day they learned that Ms. Daniels wanted money for her story,” the Times said.
Hicks also reportedly spoke with Cohen the day after he sent the alleged payment to Daniels’ lawyer to ensure that Daniels would not speak to the media about the affair. Cohen could testify to the grand jury in the coming days.
Cohen has already pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud and was sentenced to prison in 2018. He reported the alleged hush money to Daniels as legal fees, and that would possibly constitute tax fraud in New York. Trump could perhaps be further prosecuted under campaign finance statutes.
Finally, the former president could be charged with a minor violation of “falsifying business records,” which would be a “low level felony,” according to NPR.
Bragg may soon be reaching a decision on whether to charge Donald Trump. Hicks may become a star witness, even if she did not do anything improper or illegal. Trump has called the whole saga a “witch hunt” on social media and added that it is being conducted by a “racist” district attorney. He took this stance during a recent speech at the rightwing gathering CPAC on March 4.
Bragg would have to show that Donald Trump was personally linked to falsifying documents, campaign finance violations, or tax fraud for a successful prosecution.
Author Expertise and Experience:
Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.