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Washington, March 14 – Former US President Donald Trump will not appear before the Manhattan grand jury probing a “hush-money” payment made to an adult film actress, his lawyer said.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office reportedly informed Trump last week of his right to testify before the grand jury, reports Xinhua news agency.
The investigation concerns whether Trump falsified business records in connection with the payment made to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.
The hush money was allegedly used to prevent Daniels from saying that she had an affair with Trump.
“We have no plans on participating in that proceeding,” Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina told ABC News on Monday.
Asked whether the former President authorised the $130,000 payment made to Daniels days before the 2016 election, Tacopina said: “It’s not directly related. Let’s assume he did, for this argument. This was a plain extortion. I don’t know when we started prosecuting extortion victims.
“He (Trump) has vehemently denied this affair. But he had to pay money because there was going to be an allegation that was going to be publicly embarrassing to him, regardless of the campaign.”
Trump has repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing in connection with the payment, which was negotiated by his former attorney Michael Cohen.
Cohen, who pleaded guilty in federal court in 2018 of making the illegal payment to Daniels, testified before the Manhattan grand jury on Monday afternoon.
“My goal is to tell the truth. I’m just here to answer the questions,” he added.