Trump Now Touting Possibility of No Indictment From Manhattan DA

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
March 22, 2023Donald Trump
Trump Now Touting Possibility of No Indictment From Manhattan DA
Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before his speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 4, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Just days after raising the possibility that he could be criminally charged by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, former President Donald Trump shared a news article suggesting Bragg may not pursue the charges after all.

On Saturday, Trump raised allegations that Bragg would announce charges against the former president as early as Tuesday, March 21. However, Tuesday came and went without Bragg formally announcing charges.

In a subsequent post on his Truth Social media platform just before midnight on Tuesday evening, Trump showed a screenshot of a Fox News caption that read: “Sources say there’s real chance DA may choose not to charge Trump as rumors swirl.” That Fox News caption and other social media posts by Trump suggest he feels buoyed by new testimony before a Manhattan grand jury, and feels the odds are turning in his favor and away from Bragg’s case.

The Fox News headline that Trump screenshotted was a promotional caption for an article with the headline “Trump has not been notified whether Manhattan DA plans to bring charges: sources.” The unnamed sources who spoke with Fox News for the article reportedly said there’s a chance Bragg won’t indict Trump on any new charges.

Bragg’s case against Trump may stem from a $130,000 payment Trump and his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, allegedly facilitated to adult entertainment actress Stormy Daniels in 2016 to stop her from going public with claims they had an affair. Bragg’s office may argue the payment should have been classified as a campaign expense but was wrongly classified as a business expense by the Trump Organization—in violation of Section 175 of New York law—which classifies the falsification of business records as a Class E felony. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had already declined to prosecute the 2016 payment to Daniels as an election law violation.

A grand jury has the power to determine if there is an indictable offense. Grand jury deliberations are done in secret, and indictments typically remain under seal until an arraignment.

A Manhattan grand jury may still be hearing evidence and witness testimony in the potential Trump case.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump touted the testimony of Robert Costello, an attorney who previously advised Cohen. Costello told reporters that he went before the grand jury to challenge the testimony they reportedly heard from Cohen just days earlier. Costello referred to Cohen as “totally unreliable” and “a convicted perjurer.”

“It is being said that disbarred lawyer Michael Cohen was put out to dry today after his highly respected former attorney and legal adviser, Robert Costello, made a great impression not only on the D.A.’s Office, but the grand jury itself,” Trump wrote on Truth Social early on Tuesday.

Cohen’s Reliability

Cohen pled guilty to tax fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations in federal court in New York on Aug. 21, 2018. Cohen said the alleged campaign finance violation he participated in—the payment to Daniels—was done at Trump’s direction. Trump argued at the time that the campaign finance issue that Cohen had described in his plea deal was not actually a crime. Former Federal Elections Commission Chair Bradey Smith agreed that Cohen’s payment to Daniels would not have violated campaign finance laws, though other election law officials disagreed and a federal judge accepted Cohen’s 2018 plea agreement that included the campaign finance allegation.

Later on in November of 2018, Cohen also pled guilty to perjury by way of giving false testimony to members of Congress about when Trump discontinued efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, Russia. Cohen had initially told lawmakers that the Trump Tower Moscow project ended in January of 2016, but later said that was a lie and that talks continued through June of 2016.

Following Cohen’s guilty plea for the perjury charge, Buzzfeed News published reports based on anonymous sources that claimed Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow deal. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Trump-Russia investigation showed that Buzzfeed’s reporting was erroneous in claiming that Trump directed Cohen’s misrepresentations to Congress.

Cohen has disputed Costello’s claims that he is an unreliable witness.

“If Bob Costello’s comments were any more fantastical, he would be a bestselling fiction author,” Cohen told Fox News.

“I stated years ago that the payment was done at the direction of, in coordination with and for the benefit of Donald,” Cohen added. “Truth is truth and the documents in the possession of the [New York County District Attorney’s Office] demonstrate this.”

Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, told CNN that Cohen has offered to rebut Costello’s testimony but “was not needed.”

Trump Says Bragg Seeking New Witness

Despite suggesting Bragg’s case before a Manhattan grand jury could end without charges, the former president has indicated Bragg is looking at other ways to bolster a possible case, including with additional witnesses.

“There was NO CRIME, NO AFFAIR, NO BOOKKEEPING ERROR OR MISDEMEANOR, NO ‘NOTHING,’ OTHER THAN NOW PROVEN LIES BY MICHAEL COHEN, A CONVICTED FELON AND PERJURER, AND THE STRONG LIKELIHOOD OF AN EXTORTION PLOT AGAINST ME,” Trump wrote on Truth Social Tuesday. “So, after getting CRUSHED yesterday by Cohen’s highly respected attorney, with the case against me FULLY DISPROVEN, why is the D.A. searching for yet another ‘witness?’ TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME!”

NTD News reached out to Bragg’s office for comment but has not received a reply.