Officials discuss safety in case of Trump indictment

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By Colleen Long and Jennifer Peltz | Associated Press

NEW YORK – Police officers in New York are making security preparations for the possibility that former President Donald Trump could be indicted in coming weeks and appear in a Manhattan courtroom in an investigation looking into money paid to women who alleged sexual encounters. with him, four police officers said on Friday.

There was no public announcement of any deadline for the grand jury’s secret work, including any potential vote on whether or not to indict the former president.

The officers, who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, said authorities are only preparing in case of an indictment. They described the talks as preliminary and are considering security, planning and the practicalities of a potential court hearing for a former president.

The Manhattan District Attorney and Trump attorney Joseph Tacopina had no comment. A message was left for court administrators.

The grand jury heard from witnesses, including former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who says he orchestrated payments in 2016 to two women to silence them about sexual encounters they said they had with Trump a decade earlier.

Trump denies the encounters took place, says he did nothing wrong and has branded the investigation a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging the 2024 Republican presidential campaign.

“Democrats have investigated and attacked President Trump since before he was elected — and have always failed,” campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement on Thursday about the inquiry.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office is apparently looking into whether any state laws were violated in connection with the payments or the way Trump’s company compensated Cohen for her work to keep the women’s allegations quiet.

Daniels and at least two former Trump aides – former political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former spokeswoman Hope Hicks – are among the witnesses who have met with prosecutors in recent weeks.

Cohen said that under Trump’s direction, he arranged payments totaling $280,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. According to Cohen, the payments were to buy his silence on Trump, who was at the height of his first presidential campaign.

Cohen and federal prosecutors said the company paid him $420,000 to reimburse him for paying Daniels $130,000 and to cover bonuses and other alleged expenses. The company classified these payments internally as legal expenses.

The $150,000 payment to McDougal was made by the then-editor of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer, which prevented his story from coming to light.

Federal prosecutors agreed not to sue the Enquirer’s corporate parent in exchange for its cooperation in a campaign finance investigation that led to charges against Cohen in 2018. Prosecutors said the payments to Daniels and McDougal amounted to impermissible gifts and not registered for Trump’s election effort.

Cohen pleaded guilty, served jail time, and was expelled. Federal prosecutors never charged Trump with any crime.

Long reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed.

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