Grand jury to continue hearing Trump case next week as ex-president called out for ‘creating false expectation’ of arrest
A grand jury in New York City investigating Donald Trump’s alleged role in a scheme to pay hush money payments to an adult film star will likely continue considering the case on 27 March, when the panel is scheduled to meet next.
The grand jury has met on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to consider evidence involving the former president’s role involving a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels that prosecutors at the New York County district attorney’s office reportedly allege was an illegal campaign expenditure.
The grand jury was told not to appear on Wednesday 22 March and it is unlikely that the group will meet to discuss that case at all this week, with a delay on 23 March confirmed by CNN and NBC News.
The New York Times reported that the panel was likely to continue considering the case on Monday 27 March.
Developments in the case follow the former president’s prediction of his own arrest on 18 March, demanding that his followers protest what he believed was an imminent indictment while accusing prosecutors of launching a politically motivated investigation.
Grand juries can typically hear multiple cases at a time. They convene in secret, and prosecutors are statutorily barred from discussing their actions. It is unclear whether the panel will hear from other witnesses. Details concerning the timing of the highly scrutinised case and potential charges, which could mark the first-ever criminal indictment of a former president, are largely unknown.
Following the conclusion of witness testimony, prosecutors will explain charges and present the case to the jury for a vote. The earliest that could happen, if jurors were not considering the case on 23 March, would be the following week.
An arrest and an arraignment, in which Mr Trump would be formally charged in a court proceeding, would likely not immediately follow an indictment, to which a majority of the grand jurors must agree.
Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have beefed up security measures and remain on high alert for potential threats related to the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation and reports of a forthcoming indictment. Barricades, members of Secret Service and uniformed New York City Police Department officers have surrounded Manhattan Criminal Court and Trump Tower, the midtown skyscraper that has served as headquarters for Mr Trump’s campaign and his Trump Organization.
Pro-Trump demonstrations in New York City have thus far been muted, with only handfuls of supporters showing up to protest.
Mr Trump appeared to base his prediction of his imminent arrest on media reports about law enforcement preparations in advance of a potential indictment. His team followed up to clarify that he did not receive any indications from prosecutors that he had yet been charged or would be imminently arrested.
But the former president’s comments fuelled a media firestorm and a rush of support from Republican officials and pundits who have accused the district attorney and other Democratic officials of leading a politically motivated investigation.
In a letter to a group of House Republicans who demanded Mr Bragg’s testimony to Congress, the district attorney’s office said on 23 March that Mr Trump “created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene.”
The request from GOP lawmakers marks an “unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution” that would interfere with the grand jury’s proceedings in violation of the law, according to the letter.
“These confidentiality provisions exist to protect the interests of the various participants in the criminal process – the defendant, the witnesses, and members of the grand jury – as well as the integrity of the grand jury proceeding itself,” the letter stated.