The grand jury spent weeks meeting in secret to probe Trump’s involvement in a $130,000 “hush money” payment made in 2016 to the porn star Stormy Daniels to allegedly keep her from going public about a sexual encounter she said she had with him years earlier.
The indictment has not yet been unsealed, so it’s not completely clear what charges will be levelled at Trump.
Some experts have said they believe Trump could be charged with falsifying business records, which can be a misdemeanour or a felony under New York law. To secure a conviction on the felony charge, prosecutors would have to prove that records were falsified with the intention of committing or concealing a second crime. It’s not clear what prosecutors may allege as the second crime.
Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen allegedly paid Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, through a shell company before being reimbursed by Trump, whose company, the Trump Organization, allegedly logged the reimbursements as legal expenses.
Trump denies having sex with Stormy Daniels.
Trump’s company “grossed up” Cohen’s reimbursement for the Daniels payment to defray tax payments, according to federal prosecutors who filed criminal charges against the lawyer in connection with the payments in 2018. In all, Cohen got £291,000 ($360,000) plus a £48,000 ($60,000) bonus, for a total of £339,000 ($420,000).
Cohen pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance law in connection with the payments. Federal prosecutors say the payments amounted to illegal, unreported assistance to Trump’s campaign. But they declined to file charges against Trump himself.