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Trump grand jury ‘to take pre-planned break from case’

A source says a grand jury investigating hush money paid on Donald Trump’s behalf is scheduled to consider matters next week and then take a two-week break.

March 30, 2023
30 March 2023

The Manhattan grand jury investigating hush money paid on Donald Trump’s behalf is scheduled to consider other matters next week before taking a previously scheduled two-week hiatus, a person familiar with the matter says.

That means a vote on whether or not to indict the former US president likely would not come until late April at the earliest.

The break, which was scheduled in advance when the panel was convened in January, coincides with Passover, Easter and spring break for the New York City public school system.

The person who confirmed the grand jury’s schedule was not authorised to speak publicly about secretive grand jury proceedings and did so on condition of anonymity. 

A message left with the district attorney’s office was not immediately returned.

In a statement released through a lawyer, Trump said: “I HAVE GAINED SO MUCH RESPECT FOR THIS GRAND JURY.”

The grand jury has been meeting regularly on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. 

It met on Monday and a longtime Trump friend and potential key witness in the investigation was seen leaving the building where the grand jury has been meeting. 

The grand jury was not scheduled to meet on Wednesday.

News earlier this month that Trump had been invited to appear before the grand jury fuelled widespread speculation that an indictment would soon be forthcoming. 

Trump himself added to that anticipation with a post on his social media platform saying that he expected to be arrested soon although his representatives later said that they had not received any such indication from prosecutors.

But the district attorney’s office has made no public statements on the timing of any possible indictments, continuing its work in secret over the last two weeks.

On March 20, the grand jury heard from a witness favourable to Trump.

People familiar with how grand jury processes typically unfold cautioned that the schedule could change and that prosecutors could still ask jurors to consider charges or vote on an indictment on one of the days they are expected to meet on other matters.

Few people – Manhattan District Alvin Bragg and the prosecutors in charge of the grand jury investigation – know precisely how the grand jury investigation is proceeding and at what pace. 

They control when witnesses are called to testify and will be the ones deciding whether, and when, to seek an indictment.

Since Trump’s March 18 post, authorities ratcheted up security, deploying additional police officers, lining the streets around the courthouse with barricades and dispatching bomb-sniffing dogs.

The grand jury is investigating money paid during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign to two women who alleged that they had extramarital sexual encounters with him. 

Trump has denied the allegations.

Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who has testified as a key prosecution witness, paid porn actress Stormy Daniels $US130,000 ($A194,659) through a shell company he set up and was then reimbursed by Trump, whose company logged the reimbursements as legal expenses.

Earlier in 2016, Cohen also arranged for former Playboy model Karen McDougal to be paid $US150,000 by the publisher of the supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer, which squelched her story in a journalistically dubious practise known as “catch-and-kill”.

If the Manhattan grand jury’s schedule holds, that panel would not return to the Trump matter until April 24. 

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