Top Trump Org executive to appear before Manhattan grand jury as probe escalates: report
Donald Trump speaking with attendees at the "Rally to Protect Our Elections" hosted by Turning Point Action. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The controller of the Trump Organization, Jeffrey McConney, will appear before a Manhattan grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump’s alleged role in a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, CNN reports.

The investigation into the payment, which allegedly was intended to stop Daniels from going public about a sexual encounter with Trump, is reportedly ramping up as prosecutors speak to witnesses involved in the alleged payment. Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty in connection to facilitating the $130,000 payment, met with prosecutors two weeks ago.

Prosecutors want to know if the Trump Organization falsified business records by reporting its reimbursement to Cohen for the payment as a legal expense to the IRS. "According to court filings in Cohen’s federal prosecution, Trump Organization executives authorized payments to him totaling $420,000 to cover his original $130,000 payment and tax liabilities, and reward him with a bonus," CNN reports.

"Prosecutors working under the previous DA, Cy Vance, had explored bringing charges related to the hush money scheme but some attorneys on the team were not convinced that a charge involving a federal election law violation would survive legal challenges, people familiar with the investigation told CNN," CNN's report states. "One of those former prosecutors, Mark Pomerantz, who resigned last year in protest after he was not allowed to seek charges against Trump, is publishing a book next week promising an 'inside account' of the past effort to investigate Trump."

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McConney previously testified before the grand jury eight times, although he was not a "willing witness," according to CNN. McConney, who was identified as a co-conspirator in the tax fraud scheme, was treated as a hostile witness by prosecutors they found out he gave evasive answers during testimony. New York law allows individuals who appear before a grand jury to be granted immunity from prosecution unless they lie under oath.

Read the full report over at CNN.