The hush money has reemerged as the primary focus of the probe being run by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D), who has empaneled a grand jury to hear evidence and could soon seek an indictment against the former president. Connecting the payment to a campaign finance violation could become the crux of the case.
“I expect justice to prevail, and if that’s the case, George, there shouldn’t be an indictment,” Tacopina said on ABC. “This case is outrageous, really. There should be a healthy dose of disgust from the bar, the legal community, prosecutors, defense lawyers alike. It’s not what we do. This is not what we do. We are distorting laws to bag President Trump.”
The probe revolves around a $130,000 payment that Trump’s long-time fixer, Michael Cohen, made to Daniels in the days leading up to the 2016 election. Cohen has said Trump reimbursed him for the payments in monthly installments and erroneously recorded them as a legal retainer fee. Legal experts suggested that a potential indictment of the former president would include charges of falsifying business records.
Prosecutors would need to show that Trump, with an intent to defraud, was personally involved in unlawfully designating reimbursements a legal expense, but that charge still would only amount to a misdemeanor. To rise to a felony, prosecutors would additionally need to show the fraud included an intent to commit another crime, likely a campaign finance violation. Tacopina insisted to Stephanopoulos that the hush payment was made to prevent public embarrassment to Trump, regardless of the election.