The extraordinary legal peril surrounding Donald Trump is reaching a fever pitch at the same time the former president is forging ahead in a 2024 Republican primary that is increasingly dominated by criminal investigations in New York, Washington and Atlanta.
But there’s no public information as to when or whether an indictment could be filed, leaving the former president and the public in suspense.
The Manhattan grand jury that has been hearing evidence in the case pertaining to Trump’s alleged role in a scheme to pay hush money to an adult film star will sit on Thursday, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN. NBC first reported the development.
New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office has suggested to an attorney for at least one witness in the past 24 hours that they might need to provide more testimony to the grand jury in its hush money probe, according to one source familiar with the probe.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is trying to determine whether to call back Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, to refute the testimony provided earlier this week by lawyer Robert Costello – or to call an additional witness to buttress their case before the grand jurors consider a vote on whether to indict the former president, the source familiar with the investigation said.
Representatives for both the DA’s office and Cohen declined to comment to CNN.
There is still the possibility that the grand jury could be asked to vote this week, but it could also stretch into next week, the source said.
Expectations are high that Bragg, a Democrat, is getting ready to make a decision on a potential indictment against Trump any day now over a hush-money payment scheme to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Bragg has said little about the status of the probe or whether Trump will even be charged.
The Manhattan grand jury has typically heard testimony on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, but it did not meet on Wednesday. Earlier Wednesday, two sources told CNN that the grand jury was on standby, but it had not yet gotten a call to come in. Prosecutors do not have an urgent deadline as the grand jury sits until June.
As the investigation nears its final stages, prosecutors are considering the historic nature of prosecuting a former president – an unprecedented act, sources tell CNN. Other sources tell CNN the DA’s office is taking a moment to regroup after the events of the past week.
In another blow to Trump’s legal team, Trump’s defense attorney Evan Corcoran is scheduled to testify Friday before the grand jury investigating classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago after a new order from a federal appeals court, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
The US DC Court of Appeals said that Corcoran must provide additional testimony and turn over documents about the former president as part of the criminal investigation into possible mishandling of classified documents from Trump’s time in the White House.
The source said Trump’s side is unlikely to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The announcement from a panel of three judges in the appeals court – less than a day after Trump sought to put Corcoran’s testimony on hold – adds momentum to the special counsel investigation as it seeks to secure evidence that could make or break a federal criminal case against Trump.
New York prepares for possible indictment
After Trump posted on social media this past weekend calling for protests on his behalf, city and federal officials have been increasing security and continuing to discuss how to handle potential demonstrations and the logistics of a former president being arrested. Sources have suggested that even if there was an indictment this week, court proceedings would not take place until the following week.
The DA has not made any public comments about the state or pace of the investigation. But recent testimony from Costello, as well as an offer to allow Trump himself to testify, had signaled that Bragg was nearing a charging decision.
Costello, who once represented Cohen, appeared in front of the grand jury on Monday at the request of Trump’s legal team, which legal experts say likely marked the first time that the grand jury would have heard testimony on behalf of the former president.
But in another potential setback for Trump, communications between Daniels and an attorney who is now representing Trump, Joe Tacopina, have been turned over to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Daniels’ lawyer told CNN. The exchanges – which are said to date back to 2018, when Daniels was seeking representation – raise the possibility Tacopina could be sidelined from Trump’s defense in the case.
At his home in Mar-a-Lago, Trump appears to have resigned himself to the likelihood he will be indicted by the Manhattan district attorney, as he’s both celebrated how it would help him politically and complained about how “unfair” it is, according to sources close to the former president.
Court rules Trump lawyer must testify
Meanwhile, Trump is the focus of a separate investigation led by special counsel Jack Smith over the handling of classified documents. Wednesday’s appeals court decision that Corcoran must testify before the grand jury investigating the matter followed a flurry of activity in response to a major ruling from a district court judge. That ruling indicated that the Justice Department argued successfully it had evidence Trump may have committed a crime, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
The three-judge panel of the appeals court gave the Justice Department and Trump’s lawyers just hours to file briefs over DOJ’s push to force Corcoran to testify, a rapid timeline that underscored the court’s view it was a critical case that needed to be decided in haste.
Corcoran previously testified and declined to answer some questions, citing attorney-client privilege. Prosecutors are also seeking access to notes from Corcoran.
The documents at issue in the case are Corcoran’s handwritten notes and transcribed verbal notes, regarding his representation of Trump in the Mar-a-Lago probe, according to a source familiar with the matter.
It’s not fully known what Corcoran’s testimony and documents would reveal.
While the special counsel case could pose a more serious legal threat to the president, it’s the Manhattan district attorney who appears closest to bringing charges. Amid the uncertainty over how the yearslong investigation will wrap, several advisers to the former president expressed frustration at the lack of information around a potential indictment and the logistical complications that would come with an appearance in New York, where Trump would be arraigned.
“We’re planning for what we can: What does he say and when?” another adviser told CNN. “There’s not a lot we can really plan for right now.”
Trump’s attorneys are also seeking to undercut an investigation into the former president in Georgia over efforts to overturn the 2020 election in the state. Trump’s attorneys this week asked a judge to toss the final report and evidence from a special grand jury in Fulton County.
The potential indictment of Trump in New York is not affecting the pace of charging decisions in the Fulton County case, where charges could come as soon as this spring in that case, CNN has previously reported.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Jamie Gangel, Sara Murray, Kaitlan Collins, Tierney Sneed and Lauren del Valle contributed to this report.