Prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney's office have signaled to lawyers representing former President Donald Trump to prepare for possible charges, reported The New York Times on Thursday.
"The prosecutors offered Mr. Trump the chance to testify next week before the grand jury that has been hearing evidence in the potential case, the people said. Such offers almost always indicate an indictment is close; it would be unusual for the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, to notify a potential defendant without ultimately seeking charges against him," reported William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess, and Jonah E. Bromwich. "In New York, potential defendants have the right to answer questions in the grand jury before they are indicted, but they rarely testify, and Mr. Trump is likely to decline the offer. His lawyers could also meet privately with the prosecutors in hopes of fending off criminal charges."
"Any case would mark the first indictment of a former American president, and could upend the 2024 presidential race. It would also elevate Mr. Bragg to the national stage, though not without risk," said the report. "Mr. Trump has faced an array of criminal investigations and special counsel inquiries over the years but has never been charged with a crime, underscoring the gravity of Mr. Bragg’s inquiry."
Bragg reportedly declined to indict the former president as part of his investigation into the Trump Organization's business practices, causing controversy in his own office as former prosecutors in the Manhattan office have disagreed with his handling of that case. In recent months, however, he began a criminal investigation into the hush money payments Trump arranged through his former attorney Michael Cohen to adult film star Stormy Daniels, probing them as a potential violation of New York financial laws.
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The actual decision to pursue an indictment has not yet been finalized, per the report.
"The district attorney’s office has already questioned at least six other people before the grand jury, according to several other people with knowledge of the inquiry," said the report. "Mr. Trump has previously said that the prosecutors are engaged in a 'witch hunt' against him that began before he became president, and has called Mr. Bragg, a Democrat who is Black, a politically motivated 'racist.'"
This comes amid a backdrop of other criminal investigations into the former president, including Fulton County, Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis' probe into election interference in that state, and federal January 6 and classified document investigations under special counsel Jack Smith.