A New York grand jury investigating Donald Trump gave the impression to be listening to from ultimate witnesses as legislation enforcement officers accelerated safety preparations Monday prematurely of a doable indictment and as fellow Republicans staked out positions in a felony probe anticipated to shake up the 2024 presidential race.
Testimony from Robert Costello, a lawyer who had a falling out with the important thing authorities witness within the Trump investigation, got here because the grand jury that for months has been investigating Trump over hush cash paid to a porn star throughout his 2016 marketing campaign gave the impression to be wrapping up its work.
Confronted with criticism that the investigation had been politicized by the Democratic Celebration district legal professional Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan DA’s workplace issued a blistering assertion to Fox Information on Tuesday. Home Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-O.H., and different GOP leaders had demanded Bragg seem and testify earlier than Congress relating to the investigation.
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“We will not be intimidated by attempts to undermine the justice process, nor will we let baseless accusations deter us from fairly applying the law,” a spokesperson for Bragg’s workplace mentioned.
“In every prosecution, we follow the law without fear or favor to uncover the truth. Our skilled, honest, and dedicated lawyers remain hard at work,” the spokesman instructed Fox Information Digital.
Because the final witness, Costello was invited to look after saying he had data elevating questions concerning the credibility of Michael Cohen, a key witness within the investigation who has already appeared a number of instances earlier than the grand jury. Costello’s testimony was anticipated to present the previous president an oblique alternative to make a case that he shouldn’t face felony prices, although there have been no clear indicators his look had modified the course of the grand jury probe.
Cohen had been obtainable for over two hours to rebut the testimony however was not wanted, his legal professional mentioned Monday.
Costello had supplied Cohen, himself a lawyer, authorized providers a number of years in the past. In a information convention after his grand jury look, he instructed reporters that he had come ahead to supply exculpatory details about Trump and to clarify that he didn’t imagine Cohen, who pleaded responsible to federal crimes and served time in jail, might be trusted.
“If they want to go after Donald Trump and they have solid evidence then so be it,” Costello mentioned. “But Michael Cohen is far from solid evidence.”
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Responding to Costello’s claims on MSNBC later Monday, Cohen mentioned that Costello was by no means his lawyer and “he lacks any sense of veracity.”
The testimony got here two days after Trump mentioned he anticipated to face felony prices and urged supporters to protest his doable arrest.
It’s not clear when prosecutors may wrap up their work, however legislation enforcement in New York has been making bodily preparations for any unrest surrounding a doable indictment. Within the morning, a New York Police Division truck started dropping off moveable metallic barricades that might be used to dam off streets or sidewalks.
Costello briefly acted as a authorized adviser to Cohen after the FBI raided Cohen’s house and house in 2018. On the time, Cohen was being investigated for each tax evasion and for funds he helped orchestrate in 2016 to purchase the silence of two girls who claimed to have had sexual encounters with Trump.
For a number of months, it was unclear whether or not Cohen, a longtime lawyer and fixer for the Trump Group who as soon as boasted that he would “take a bullet” for his boss, would stay loyal to the president.
Cohen finally determined to plead responsible in reference to the funds to porn actor Stormy Daniels and mannequin Karen McDougal, which he mentioned have been directed by Trump. Since then, he has been a vociferous Trump critic, testifying earlier than Congress after which to the Manhattan grand jury.
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Trump, who has denied having intercourse with both lady, has branded Cohen a liar. Costello broke with Cohen earlier than he pleaded responsible, after it grew to become clear he was not in Trump’s camp.
Within the years since, Costello, a veteran New York legal professional, has represented Trump allies together with his former political strategist Steve Bannon and his private lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Even because the New York investigation pushes towards conclusion, Trump faces felony probes in Atlanta and Washington that, taken collectively, pose vital authorized peril and carry the prospect of upending a Republican presidential race through which Trump stays a number one contender. A few of his doubtless opponents have tried to strike a steadiness between condemning a possible prosecution as politically motivated whereas avoiding condoning the conduct at subject.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an anticipated GOP presidential candidate, criticized the investigation but additionally threw one among his first jabs on the former president in a transfer prone to intensify their simmering political rivalry.
“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some kind of alleged affair,” DeSantis mentioned at a information convention in Panama Metropolis. “I can’t speak to that.”
However, he added, “what I can speak to is that if you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction and he chooses to go back many, many years ago to try to use something about porn star hush money payments, that’s an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office. And I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”
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Mike Pence, the previous vp who’s anticipated to problem Trump for the Republican nomination, castigated Trump in an ABC Information interview final weekend as “reckless” for his actions on Jan. 6 and mentioned historical past would maintain him accountable. Even so, he echoed the previous president’s rhetoric that an indictment could be a “politically charged prosecution.”
“I have no doubt that President Trump knows how to take care of himself,” Pence mentioned. “And he will. But that doesn’t make it right to have a politically charged prosecution of a former president.”
The Horn editorial workforce and the Related Press contributed to this text
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