While law enforcement authorities get ready for potential unrest in the case of an indictment, a New York grand jury looking into Donald Trump over a hush money payment to an adult film star looks to be close to finishing its investigation.
Trump said over the weekend that he would be detained on Tuesday without providing any supporting proof, and his aides later claimed that he was basing his allegation on media stories and leaks. There was no indication that prediction would come to pass, but the grand jury seemed to make progress by hearing from a Trump-friendly witness on Monday. This was likely done so that the prosecution could ensure the panel had a chance to consider any testimony that might even remotely be viewed as exculpatory.
What will happen next in a secret grand jury proceeding is unknown, and whether other witnesses will be called is also unclear. However, a city that was still smarting from the riot that Trump supporters started at the US Capitol more than two years ago took precautions to prepare for any violence that might accompany the first-ever prosecution of a former president. Fellow Republicans considering running for president in 2024 assessed how an indictment might change the race.
The testimony of Robert Costello, a lawyer with connections to several influential Trump advisers, appeared to be the last chance for supporters of the former president to persuade the grand jury not to indict anyone. After claiming to have evidence that would cast doubt on the testimony of Michael Cohen, a former Trump fixer and attorney who eventually turned against him and became a pivotal witness in the Manhattan district attorney’s inquiry, he was invited to testify by the prosecution.
Some years prior, after Cohen became embroiled in the federal probe regarding the hush money payments, Costello offered Cohen legal counsel. After testifying before the grand jury, Costello told reporters at a press conference that he had come forward because he did not think Cohen, who had admitted guilt to federal offenses and had served time in jail, could be trusted.
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Costello remarked, “If they want to go after President Trump and they have a soundproof, then so be it. But Michael Cohen is not a reliable source of evidence.
Cohen addressed Costello’s assertions and asserted that “he lacks any sense of veracity” and that Costello was never his attorney.
There were no apparent indications that Costello’s testimony had changed how the investigation was conducted. According to Cohen’s attorney, he was made accessible for more than two hours if the prosecution needed him to refute Costello’s testimony. However, he was informed on Monday that he was not required.
The testimony came two days after Trump declared he anticipated being charged with a crime and asked supporters to demonstrate in opposition to his potential detention. The former president of the United States, a Republican, criticized the New York inquiry in several social media posts over the weekend, using foul language targeting the Democrat Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg.
Even though temporary metal barricades were placed to protect streets and walkways, New York officials have been looking for internet chatter of threats of different specificity. But, there were no apparent indications that Trump’s demands for protests were being taken seriously.
Learn more from the tweet below:
New York prepares for possible unrest if Donald Trump is indicted https://t.co/RBBUAWz03w
— The Guardian (@guardian) March 21, 2023
After the FBI searched Cohen’s house and apartment in 2018, Costello served as Cohen’s legal counsel for a brief period. At the time, Cohen was under investigation for tax fraud and payments he assisted in arranging in 2016 to quiet two women who allegedly had sex with Trump to protect his reputation.
The loyalty of Cohen, a seasoned attorney and fixer for the Trump Organization, who reportedly claimed that he would “take a bullet” for his employer, to the president was a question for several months.
About the payments to adult performer Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal, which Cohen claimed were ordered by Trump, Cohen eventually decided to enter a guilty plea. He has been a vocal critic of Trump ever since, appearing before the Manhattan grand jury and Congress.
Trump has labeled Cohen a liar and has denied having sex with either of the women. When it became evident that Cohen was no longer in Trump’s corner, Costello ended their relationship before Cohen entered a plea.