A grand jury decision on whether former-President Donald Trump broke the law by paying porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her allegations they had an affair, has been put off another day, according to media reports.
The grand jury is scheduled to meet on Thursday afternoon, but will hear testimony on another matter, the Wall Street Journal reported. That means that a ruling in the highly-watched case won’t likely come before next week, as the grand jury isn’t scheduled to meet again until Monday.
A grand jury meeting on the case scheduled for Wednesday had been canceled. The reason for the delays aren’t immediately clear as grand jury proceedings are secret. A message seeking comment from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office wasn’t immediately returned.
Some news reports suggest that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg had intended to present testimony from at least one more witness before asking the grand jury to vote on whether there was sufficient evidence for the case to proceed to trial.
Legal experts say it is impossible to draw any conclusions from the delays — it could be simply that the witness Bragg intended to call had a scheduling conflict.
Anticipation built this week
Anticipation had built this week that the grand jury was ready to render a decision after Trump posted on social media on Saturday that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday. The statement was not confirmed by any law enforcement official, so it was not clear if that was really true.
If charges are brought in the case, it would mark an extraordinary turn of events for Trump, who has been under investigation for election interference in Georgia and the storage of classified documents at his Florida mansion, as he seeks to make a political comeback with a run for the White House in 2024.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was paid $130,000 by Trump’s then-personal lawyer Michael Cohen after she had approached the National Enquirer offering to sell her kiss-and-tell story about having sex with Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in 2006.
Clifford then signed a non-disclosure agreement and the National Enquirer never published the story — a tabloid journalism practice known as “catch and kill.”
Cohen initially made the payment using money he took from a home equity loan on his house, and funneled it to Clifford through a shell company he created in Delaware. Cohen, who pleaded guilty in 2018 in federal court to campaign finance violations for his role in the payoff, said he was directed to make the payment by Trump who later reimbursed him.
That payment was recorded by Trump’s company as being for legal services. Federal prosecutors had argued that the payments amounted to illegal, unreported assistance to Trump’s campaign.
Trump was never charged in the federal probe but was listed in court documents as “co-conspirator number one.”
The former president has denied having an affair with Clifford and has characterized her selling the story as extortion.