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(NEW YORK) — The Manhattan, New York grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump’s role in the hush payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels is hearing Monday from a witness for the defense.
Trump’s legal team asked the Manhattan district attorney’s office to allow Bob Costello, an attorney and longtime Trump ally, to appear as an exculpatory witness, according to a letter to prosecutors obtained by ABC News.
Costello previously represented Michael Cohen, a key witness for the prosecution, and was expected to tell the grand jury that Cohen previously said he was unaware of any crime committed by Trump.
“Cohen repeatedly told Costello that Cohen does not know of any criminal activity by President Donald J. Trump in any matter,” the letter said.
Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, paid $130,000 to Daniels in the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign to allegedly keep her quiet about an affair she claimed to have had with Trump. The former president has denied the affair and his attorneys have framed the funds as an extortion payment.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is mulling whether to charge Trump with falsifying business records, after the Trump Organization allegedly reimbursed Cohen for the payment then logged the reimbursement as a legal expense, sources have told ABC News. Trump has called the payment “a private contract between two parties” and has denied all wrongdoing.
Over the weekend, Cohen said he was asked to be on standby for possible rebuttal testimony before the grand jury.
Based on the date of the letter, Costello’s testimony appeared to be arranged before Trump wrote on social media Saturday morning that he was expecting to be arrested Tuesday. The post also called on followers to protest.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the city is prepared for any protests related to a potential indictment.
“We are monitoring comments on social media, and the NYPD is doing their normal role of making sure there is no inappropriate actions in the city,” Adams said Monday at an unrelated press conference.
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