Trump invited to testify before New York grand jury, lawyer confirms

NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump has been invited to testify before a grand jury in New York about alleged hush payments made on his behalf during the 2016 presidential campaign, one of his lawyers said Thursday.

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According to Joseph Tacopina, an attorney for the former president, the Manhattan district attorney’s office extended an invitation to Trump to testify, The Associated Press reported.

“To me, it’s much ado about nothing,” Tacopina told the AP. “It’s just another example of them weaponizing the justice system against him. And it’s sort of unfair.”

According to The New York Times, state law gives potential defendants the right to answer questions in front of a grand jury before they are indicted. Those defendants rarely testify and Trump is expected to decline the invitation, the newspaper reported.

Trump’s attorneys could also meet privately with prosecutors to work out a deal to dismiss the charges, according to the Times.

Such offers almost always indicate an indictment is close, according to the AP and the Times. It would be unusual for Manhattan’s district attorney, Alvin Bragg, to notify a potential defendant without seeking charges against them.

The case centers around a $130,000 payment to adult star Stormy Daniels, who claimed she had an affair with Trump, the Times reported. The payment was made in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign by attorney Michael Cohen, who in turn was reimbursed by Trump from the White House, according to the newspaper.

If a case goes before a grand jury, it would mark the first indictment of a former U.S. president, the newspaper reported.

On his social media platform, Trump criticized the investigation as a “political Witch-Hunt trying to take down the leading candidate, by far, in the Republican Party.” He also called the probe the product of a “corrupt, depraved, and weaponized justice system.”

“I did absolutely nothing wrong,” Trump said, according to the AP.

Bragg’s office declined to comment, the news organization reported.

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