NEW YORK — Former president Donald Trump has been invited by the Manhattan district attorney to appear next week before a grand jury investigating his business affairs, an offer that may mark a significant development years after the start of the probe, three people with knowledge of the proceedings said Thursday.
They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.
The grand jury notification — alerting Trump of his opportunity to appear before the secret panel — could signify that the state prosecutor’s investigation is winding down. It remains unclear whether Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will seek an indictment at the end of the process.
In New York state, the target of a criminal investigation that has not yet resulted in an arrest can request this type of notification when a case against them is being heard by a grand jury — if they know independently that proceedings are underway. The requirement is designed to give the target a chance to be heard by the panel in his own defense. Defense attorneys generally consider it risky for a client to testify in that scenario.
“Everyone will advise him not to go in,” said a Trump adviser who is one of the three people with knowledge of the situation that confirmed the notification. “We’ll see what he does.” The notification was first reported by the New York Times.
Bragg’s office convened the grand jury to evaluate business-related matters including Trump’s role in hush money payments to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign that were classified as a legal expense, people with knowledge of the investigation have said. The long-running probe appeared to gain traction in recent months after seeming dormant for much of last year.
If charges are brought in connection to payoffs, they would likely focus on the alleged creation of false records to conceal the nature of the funds paid to Daniels. Michael Cohen, a former Trump lawyer, has said he fronted the money involved in the transactions and was reimbursed by his then-boss. Falsifying business records is generally a misdemeanor in New York, but prosecutors can bring a felony charge if the fabrication was done to conceal or advance another crime.
In recent weeks, a flurry of witnesses have met with prosecutors, according to news reports. Cohen, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance charges related to the Daniels payments and was sentenced to three years in prison for those and other crimes, said Thursday that he has not yet appeared in front of the grand jury but is scheduled to meet with investigators from the district attorney’s office on Friday, for the 20th time.