The Manhattan district attorney’s office is seeking to move forward in its criminal investigation into Donald Trump through a familiar lens: Stormy Daniels.
According to the New York Times, District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg is focusing on the hush money payments the former president made to Daniels, a former porn actress, to keep her quiet about an alleged affair she had with Trump.
There have been countless Trump scandals since news of the alleged affair first became public during his presidency, so as a refresher: Daniels and Trump allegedly had an affair in 2006, but Trump has never acknowledged it. His team, however, took steps to ensure it didn’t become public in the months leading up to the 2016 election: Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen allegedly arranged to pay Daniels $130,000 to sign a non-disclosure agreement barring her from discussing the affair in the media.
Cohen later pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations surrounding the arrangement in 2018 and was sentenced to three years in prison, which he’s currently serving under house arrest. Trump still denies the affair.
Legal experts have since pushed for the Manhattan DA’s office to use Daniels’ case to prosecute Trump, but it didn’t go anywhere. The office shifted its attention toward Trump’s broader business practices.
But for the first time since he took office in January, Bragg is reportedly taking a step in the direction of the hush money payment.
According to the Times, attorneys in Bragg’s office are turning their attention to Allen H. Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer for the Trump Organization who’d testified last week against the company for tax crimes.
Weisselberg allegedly has direct knowledge of the hush-money payment, so attorneys are reportedly weighing bringing charges against Weisselberg to reportedly pressure the longtime Trump ally to cooperate.
The revelation comes amid a burgeoning storm of renewed federal inquiries into Trump: On Friday, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to oversee progress on two separate criminal probes into Trump’s role in the events surrounding the January 6th insurrection and whether hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort violated federal law.