From our correspondent in the United States,
No white smoke from the Manhattan district attorney’s office. With New York and America hanging on a possible indictment of former President Donald Trump in the Stormy Daniels case, the grand jury set to rule on possible charges did not meet on Wednesday, according to reports. American media. The timing of an announcement, between Thursday or next week, remains unclear. And it is not excluded that other witnesses will be heard.
To indict Donald Trump, prosecutor Alvin Bragg must convince a panel of 23 citizens, by a simple majority, that the former American president probably broke the law by paying, through his lawyer, the former porn star Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election. The latter threatened to publicly recount having had an affair with Donald Trump ten years earlier when the Republican’s campaign was already shaken by the Access Hollywood video in which he made vulgar remarks about women .
An additional witness heard?
This grand jury, which has been investigating for months, can meet at the request of the prosecutor three afternoons a week: every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. THE site Insider mentions a cancellation of Wednesday’s session and indicates that the grand jury is unlikely to meet on Thursday, which would push any decision until next week. According to New York Timesjurors could hear from an additional witness before voting.
The ex-lawyer of Trump, Michael Cohen, who turned his jacket, was heard about twenty times by the grand jury. Donald Trump refused to come, but a former Cohen legal adviser, Bob Costello, testified Monday to attack the credibility of the former Trump “fixer”.
The former tenant of the White House took advantage of what looks like a setback to claim that there was “no crime, no affair, nothing at all”, assuring that the testimony in his favor from Costello had been “ devastating” and prompted prosecutors to seek an additional witness to convince the grand jury. This is pure speculation: technical delays are common, and all hearings are sealed before a possible indictment.
A complex file
At this time, it is not known what charges Prosecutor Alvin Bragg is considering. Michael Cohen claims that Donald Trump bought the silence of Stormy Daniels, but it is not prohibited in itself. On the other hand, the reimbursement that Donald Trump had presented as simple lawyer’s fees in his tax return could constitute a false declaration. Which is, in the New York penal code, a simple offense punishable by a fine.
The prosecutor could also plead that the then-candidate violated the Election Finances Act, which would be an offense punishable by four years in prison. But it is often complicated to convince a jury during a trial, with a blurred line between transactions that are private and public. In 2012, Democrat John Edwards, who paid off a mistress, escaped conviction.
A candidate surrounded by investigations
In the opinion of many experts, this case is undoubtedly the least dangerous criminally for Donald Trump, who is threatened from all sides. The investigation into his handling of confidential documents is gaining momentum: At the request of special prosecutor Jack Smith, a judge on Wednesday compelled a lawyer for Trump to testify before a grand jury, believing that a crime had probably been committed and warranted lift the confidentiality clause that usually protects conversations with a client.
Jack Smith is also investigating the role of Donald Trump in the assault on the Capitol and his efforts to interfere with the verdict of the polls after the presidential election of 2020. is accused of having exercised on local officials. According to CNN, prosecutor Fani Willis is considering potential racketeering and conspiracy charges, and may announce her decision on whether to indict Donald Trump sometime this spring.
But even if convicted, Donald Trump could run for president in 2024: only Congress has the power to impose ineligibility. As reminded to 20 Minutes lawyer Bradley Moss, “in theory, Donald Trump could be a candidate, or elected, even if he were in prison”.