23 Mar 2023 By theguardian
The Manhattan grand jury expected to consider criminal charges against Donald Trump over his role in the payment of hush money to the adult film star Stormy Daniels will not meet on Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter, and is on standby about meeting on Thursday.
The reason for the schedule change was not immediately clear.
The grand jury, which meets in the afternoons on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, is not required to meet three times every week. It may hear from an additional witness before being asked to vote on whether to return an indictment in connection with the hush money payment, the source said.
The adjournment sparked a flurry of speculation among people close to Trump, advisers asking if it signalled weaknesses in the case being prosecuted by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, or whether there was more damning evidence to come.
The case centers on the $130,000 Trump paid Daniels through Cohen in the final days of the 2016 election. Trump reimbursed Cohen with $35,000 checks using his personal funds, which were recorded as legal expenses. In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to federal charges, some connected to the payments.
What charges the district attorney might now seek against Trump remain unclear, though some members of his legal team believe the most likely scenario involves a base charge of falsifying business records, coupled with tax fraud, because Trump would not have paid tax on the payments.
In recent days, Trump has been resigned to the fact that he will face criminal charges in the hush-money case, and has repeatedly insisted to advisers that he wants to be handcuffed when he makes an appearance in court, the Guardian previously reported.
The former president has reasoned that since he would need to go to Manhattan criminal court in downtown New York and surrender to authorities for fingerprinting and a mugshot, the sources said, he might as well seek to turn it into a spectacle.
But above all, sources close to Trump said, he is deeply anxious that any special arrangements, like making his first court appearance by video link or skulking into the courthouse via an obscure entrance, would make him look weak or like a loser.
He also said that if he was shot, he would probably win the presidency in 2024, the sources said.
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