The New York grand jury investigating Donald Trump was hearing more testimony Wednesday from Michael Cohen, who paid off a porn star in 2016 to keep her from going public about a claimed sexual encounter with Trump a decade before he was elected president.
Cohen arrived at around 12:45 p.m. at the Manhattan building where the grand jury meets to give his second day of testimony.
“I feel great,” he told reporters as he entered the building, adding that he had no sense on when the grand jury might be asked by prosecutors to make a decision about an indictment. Cohen said he didn't expect to be back for a third day of testimony.
In the waning weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, Cohen said he made a $130,000 payment on Trump's behalf to the porn actress Stormy Daniels, who at the time had been in negotiations to tell her story on television.
Daniels says she had an unwanted sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. Trump says it never happened. The former president's lawyer said he was invited to testify before the grand jury but has no plans to do so.
Federal prosecutors in 2018 charged Cohen with campaign finance crimes related to the payment, and a similar $150,000 payout he helped arrange to the Playboy model Karen McDougal, arguing that they amounted to impermissible gifts to Trump's election effort. Trump also denied having an affair with McDougal.
Trump was never charged by federal prosecutors, however. Manhattan prosecutors have been examining whether any state laws were broken in connection with the payments or the way Cohen was paid by the Trump Organization for his work to cover up the alleged affairs.
Cohen and federal prosecutors said the company paid him $420,000 to reimburse him for the payment to Daniels and to cover bonuses and other supposed expenses. The company classified those payments internally as legal expenses.
Falsifying business records can be a misdemeanor under state law, or a felony if the fudging of paperwork is done in connection with a more serious crime.
Trump and his lawyers have said he was extorted into paying the money to Daniels and should be considered the victim in the investigation. Daniels and the lawyers who helped arrange the payment have denied extorting anyone.