The grand jury investigating Donald Trump's hush money payments to Stormy Daniels met again on Monday and heard new testimony from former National Inquirer publisher David Pecker.
The Manhattan grand jury weighing evidence about Donald J. Trump’s role in a hush-money payment to a porn star heard testimony on Monday from a crucial witness, but there was no sign an indictment had been filed, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The witness, David Pecker, the former publisher of The National Enquirer, also testified in January. Since the grand jury was impaneled early this year by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, it has heard from at least nine witnesses — including Mr. Pecker, who has now appeared twice — and is expected to vote on an indictment soon.
It is unclear whether the grand jury took any action on Monday, but one of the people with knowledge of the matter said it had not voted on an indictment. Grand juries operate in secret, leaving the timing of indictments something of a mystery.
Mr. Pecker was a key player in the hush-money episode. He and the tabloid’s top editor helped broker the deal between the porn star, Stormy Daniels, and Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s fixer at the time.
Ever since Mr. Trump predicted his arrest a little more than a week ago, all eyes have turned to the grand jury.
And while the grand jurors could vote to indict the former president as soon as this week — in what would be the culmination of a nearly five-year investigation — the exact timing is subject to the quirks of the grand jury process in Manhattan, which include scheduling conflicts and other potential interruptions.
This particular grand jury meets on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, though it typically has not heard evidence related to the Trump investigation on Thursdays. The panel does not have to meet on each of those days, but only convenes when Mr. Bragg’s office summons the jurors.
The timing of an indictment might also depend on the jurors’ availability. Sixteen of the 23 grand jurors must be present to conduct any business (and a majority must vote to indict for the case to go forward). For the prosecutors to seek a vote to indict, the jurors in attendance that day must previously have heard all key witness testimony.
The prospect of an indictment has raised a number of questions about the contours of the potential case facing Mr. Trump, who would become the first former American president to be indicted.
Mr. Bragg's prosecutors are focused on the $130,000 payment to Ms. Daniels, who agreed to keep quiet about her story of an affair with Mr. Trump in exchange for the payoff. Mr. Cohen made the payment during the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign.
In recent weeks, Mr. Bragg’s office signaled to Mr. Trump’s lawyers that the former president could face criminal charges by offering him the chance to testify before the grand jury, people with knowledge of the matter have said. Such offers almost always indicate an indictment is near; it would be unusual for prosecutors to notify a potential defendant without ultimately seeking charges against him.
In New York, potential defendants have the right to answer questions in front of the grand jury before they are indicted, but they rarely testify, and Mr. Trump declined the offer.
Prosecutors have now questioned almost every major player in the hush-money episode, again suggesting that the district attorney’s presentation is nearing an end.
All of this started when Trump lied about being indicted last week, and the entire Village bought into it. It put Trump in the spotlight and sucked all the oxygen out of the 2024 GOP presidential primary as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed dozens of fascist bills into state law.
With DeSantis supposedly announcing his entry into the primary in the next week or two, Trump is actually hoping that Bragg's indictments come the day of DeSantis's announcement, because nobody will be talking about Ron once the hammer falls on Don.
All calculated, you see. Trump is a brute and a monster but he's good at playing the media, and playing his primary contenders, and he's done both beautifully this month.