What to know
- The grand jury in New York investigating the Stormy Daniels hush money scheme will not meet today, delaying any vote on a potential indictment of former President Donald Trump. The reason for today’s cancellation is unclear.
- The Manhattan district attorney reportedly told grand jurors to be on standby for tomorrow. The panel meets on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
- Trump also faces potential charges stemming from Georgia and federal probes, relating in part to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Grand jury to meet tomorrow
The grand jury in Manhattan will reconvene tomorrow, reported NBC News, citing two sources familiar with the matter.
Meanwhile, Trump hit with bad news in DOJ's classified docs probe
Trump raking in campaign donations after his 'arrest' prediction: report
Trump's 2024 presidential campaign has reportedly raked in in $1.5 million in donations since Saturday, when the former president announced he expected to be arrested on Tuesday. (That, of course, did not happen.)
As Steve Benen wrote for MaddowBlog today:
To put these numbers in context, in the six weeks following his 2024 campaign kickoff event, Trump raised roughly $9.5 million, for an average of roughly $224,000 per day. Since Saturday morning, if today’s reporting is accurate, the Republican has raised roughly $500,000 per day.
"In other words, saying he’d be arrested gave the former president a significant boost — which might help explain why Trump made the false prediction in the first place."
Read Steve's post below.
Last-minute witness may have been a tactical blunder for Trump
As MSNBC Daily columnist Glenn Kirschner told "MSNBC Reports" moments ago:
In the event Robert Costello had any truly damaging information about Michael Cohen’s credibility or conduct, what the defense team has done is given the prosecutors a golden opportunity to drill down, to investigate anything Costello said, and to meet the force of it with, perhaps, a witness that can rebut what Costello said. All of that now will be diffused before there’s ever a trial, so I think that’s a win for the prosecutors.
Cause for grand jury delay is unclear, but here are a few potential reasons
News that the grand jury will not meet today subverts expectations about the timing of a potential indictment. We don't know the cause of the delay at this time, but here are just a few of the possible reasons.
One possibility stems from the issues raised by Stormy Daniels, who consulted Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina about representing her around February 2018. And though Tacopina-linked sources deny he intends to represent Trump in any criminal case stemming from the Manhattan DA’s hush money investigation, NBC News has also confirmed that Daniels’s lawyer has turned over to the DA’s office emails and other communications that show Daniels sharing confidential information with Tacopina. Given the thorny ethical and even legal issues that could present, it’s possible Tacopina is a cause of the delay.
Trump legal nightmare – Lawyer says he will surrender if indictedMarch 17, 202304:03
Of course, another possibility concerns additional grand jury witnesses. While Bob Costello and Michael Cohen each have told media they do not expect to return, The New York Times has reported there could be at least one more, unnamed grand jury witness. (CNN is also reporting today that a lawyer for one witness has been contacted to arrange for that witness’s return visit, if necessary. Neither NBC News or MSNBC has confirmed that report.)
Who that person is, of course, remains a mystery. Is it Daniels herself? Or could it even be former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, who, according to the Times, remains under investigation for potential insurance fraud charges even as he serves a five-month sentence at Rikers Island after pleading guilty to a yearslong tax fraud scheme that led to the Trump Organization’s own conviction last year.
Whomever that witness is, the lead prosecution team could be meeting with that person in anticipation of their testimony — or that person could simply be unavailable to testify to the grand jury today.
And of course, there could be reasons far beyond anyone’s imagination for the delay. Trump would have you think Costello’s triumphant discrediting of Cohen has forced the DA’s office to regroup. That seems the least likely possibility to me, especially given the apparent pressure on Cohen to retain Costello in the first instance, and his ultimate decision against doing so. But from the casual observer to the legal commentators who eat, sleep and breathe this and other Trump investigation news, it appears we are all in the dark together today as the grand jury takes a day off.
Is the Manhattan grand jury running out of time with Trump?
So, what does it mean that the grand jury didn’t vote or meet today? Are they running up against a clock?
I don’t think so, at least not in terms of their service. That is, when The New York Times reported on the grand jury in late January, it said the panel recently started and serves for six months. So if that’s the case, then it’s not running out of time in that respect.
Of course, with the impending 2024 presidential election, there’s the bigger ticking clock hanging over all the Trump probes. The former president who’s running again is also being investigated in Georgia and by the Department of Justice.
So we don’t know what’s next for the Manhattan grand jury, but it doesn’t appear to be running out of time just yet.
The latest MAGA indictment delusion is a doozy
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: “Any indictment of former President Donald Trump helps his chances in a presidential election.” It’s an old chestnut that’s been floating around for the last few years and is threatening to become conventional wisdom as Trump faces possible charges in New York.
But there’s a feedback loop occurring here. Trump supporters and lawyers say that an indictment will rile up his base; MAGA diehards repeat that back. Stepping back, you can see that there’s not actually much to validate the idea that criminal charges will boost Trump with the voters who spurned him in 2020. Read my full analysis below.
Grand jury won't meet today, but why?
We’ve learned that the grand jury considering charges against Trump in Manhattan won’t be voting on an indictment today because it isn’t meeting at all.
It’s unclear why this apparent schedule change occurred, as is when the grand jury will next meet. The grand jury meets on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Manhattan DA told grand jurors to be on standby for tomorrow, according to local NBC affiliate WNBC, citing two sources familiar with the matter.
New York grand jury for Trump hush money probe will not meet WednesdayMarch 22, 202302:21
The apparent schedule change follows the appearance of last-minute Trump witness Robert Costello on Monday, when Michael Cohen was prepared to testify as a rebuttal witness after Costello but wasn’t called by prosecutors to do so. One possibility for the delay is that prosecutors are seeking to call another witness besides Cohen who wasn’t available or prepared to testify Wednesday.
Breaking: Manhattan grand jury will NOT meet today
The Manhattan grand jury weighing whether to indict Donald Trump in the Stormy Daniels hush money scheme will not convene today, delaying a potential indictment, sources told WNBC, the local NBC affiliate in New York.
Two sources familiar with the matter say the Manhattan DA told the grand jury be on standby for tomorrow, according to WNBC. The reason for this delay is unclear.
Insider was the first to report the delay.
Why the Stormy Daniels payoff may be a distraction
As NBC legal analyst Danny Cevallos told "MSNBC Reports" moments ago:
There’s been a lot of talk about the falsifying business records charges in connection with the Stormy Daniels payoff. At this point, I’m starting to think that may be a distraction, that maybe we’re really going to see charges possibly related to Donald Trump’s practice of inflating his value for bragging rights or to get loans and deflating it when the tax man cometh.
The reason I think the Stormy Daniels avenue may be a distraction is I don’t think it’s a strong case. It’s default a misdemeanor case if you falsify business records. It only becomes a felony if the falsification is designed to conceal some other crime. And if that other crime is an election law violation, there are at least three or four problems with that. Not the least of which is that it’s a state attempting to enforce federal election law and that may not fly.
There’s some suggestion in the courts that it could, but if it’s a reasonable minds can differ situation. That means it could get tossed and it could be hard to sell to a jury.
Trump turned down New York prosecutors' invitation to testify
Trump hasn’t been subpoenaed in the hush money investigation, but he was invited to testify before the Manhattan grand jury.
Ultimately, after a weekend huddling with his lawyers in Florida earlier this month, the former president opted against speaking under oath.
As Jordan Rubin predicted recently for Deadline: Legal Blog: “It’s rare in general for defendants or potential defendants to testify in these situations, and Trump might be an even worse candidate than usual, given his awkward relationship with the truth. No doubt Trump’s legal team knows this and has taken it into account when advising the former president.”
Read Jordan’s full story below.
Costello's appearance not likely to thwart any Trump indictment
We thought the grand jury might be nearing a vote when a last-minute witness popped up from the Donald Trump camp on Monday: Robert Costello, a lawyer who offered testimony in attempt to attack the credibility of key prosecution witness Michael Cohen.
Did it work?
Of course, we won’t know until we learn of the grand jury’s decision. But there’s reason to think that if the grand jurors were heading toward an indictment already, Costello didn’t change their minds.
For one thing, part of Costello’s claim appears to be that Cohen made the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels on his own, without Trump’s backing. But even if that’s true, it’s sort of besides the point. That’s because a charge of falsifying business records, if that’s in fact what Manhattan prosecutors are contemplating, deals with Trump’s actions on the back end of the scheme in his reimbursement to Cohen, not whether the scheme was Trump’s idea in the first place.
And remember, the level of proof needed to secure an indictment is reasonable cause, which is much lower than beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard required at trial. So Costello might have accomplished nothing more than tipping his hand about what he’d say at a trial.
Trump ‘clown’ show: Cohen scorches CostelloMarch 20, 202311:14
Dilanian: 'This office has brought this charge 117 times'
NBC News' Ken Dilanian just explained why claims of "selective prosecution" by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg in potentially charging Trump with falsifying business records are meritless.
"There is a record here," Dilanian told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" moments ago. "This office has brought this charge 117 times as a felony against 29 individuals or companies in just the last year or so. And there’s a long history of other New York prosecutors doing this."
"It isn’t just Alvin Bragg," he added. "There’s a whole group of citizens who have been brought in there to be grand jurors and they have to sign off on this. And that’s the beauty of our system, right? It’s not just a prosecutor.”
Grand jury to reconvene this afternoon, as 'Law & Order' films down the street
NBC News' Gabe Gutierrez reported that grand jurors in New York are expected to reconvene this afternoon. In weeks past, they typically meet around 2 p.m. ET on Wednesdays.
"Right now, the big question is, will there be potentially another witness as part of this grand jury investigation?" Gutierrez told MSNBC. "That is unclear at this moment."
Gutierrez continued: "But if there are no more witnesses then the prosecution could put this up for a vote. And if 12 grand jurors vote to indict former President Trump, that indictment would then go under seal. It's possible we might not find out about an indictment until prosecutors reach out to the former president's legal team."
Importantly, Gutierrez noted that an episode of "Law & Order" is currently being filmed down the street from where grand jurors will meet in lower Manhattan. Fitting.
What to expect if Trump is indicted: Mug shot, fingerprinting and more
While we’d be in unprecedented territory with the potential indictment of a former president, people are indicted and processed all the time in New York, so we have a sense of what Trump could have to go through.
As I explained on Monday, that means, for example, that if Trump fights extradition from out of state, then he’d be subjected to the usual interstate extradition process. That would essentially amount to processing paperwork between the two states and ensuring the defendant’s identity — that he’s the person charged in the requesting state.
Then the question becomes what happens once Trump gets to New York, however he gets there — and it doesn’t seem like he’s fighting extradition at this point, so he could be turning himself in if indicted. Would Trump be “perp walked” in front of the cameras in handcuffs on his way into the courthouse? According to The New York Times on Tuesday, Trump “claims he is ready for his perp walk.” Whether that’s true or not, there’s no legal requirement for such a display, so it remains to be seen.
What would more likely need to happen, however, is that Trump would be fingerprinted and photographed in order to be processed on the arrest warrant that would issue in connection with the indictment. So you might see a Trump mug shot making the rounds.
Once the former president is processed, Trump could be arraigned on the indictment, meaning the formal process in court where the charges in the indictment are unveiled and the defendant enters a plea — most likely, a “not guilty” plea. And don’t expect Trump — a former president and one of the more recognizable people on the planet — to be held on bail pending trial. From there, pretrial motions and litigation in this historic case would commence.
Possible indictment scenarios in 'choose your own adventure' form
MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin shared Just Security editor Asha Rangappa's flow chart laying out her working theories for a potential Trump indictment in New York.
Click through to read Lisa's thoughts on another potential charge.
What to make of Trump calling Alvin Bragg ‘racist’
As I’ve watched Trump baselessly lob allegations of racism at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in the lead-up to a potential indictment, I’ve been reminded of the constant struggle Black lawyers in the U.S. have endured as truly racist detractors have tried to undermine their legitimacy.
The same thought came to me last year, as Republicans railed against President Joe Biden’s vow to nominate a Black woman — ultimately, Ketanji Brown Jackson — to the Supreme Court.
In a nation where Black people were once deemed property, that we might become anything more than that is a radical notion. And for some bigots — including Trump, apparently — the idea that one of us, citing a set of laws that once enslaved us, could play a role in their freedom is a reversal of fate too great to bear.
Pics of Trump getting arrested went viral yesterday. They're fake.
Pictures that appear to show Trump in police custody have been going viral all week. One of the most widely circulated versions shows him being manhandled by a set of suspiciously tall police officers. Another shows his supposed mugshot. In case you haven’t figured it out already: They’re fakes. Frauds. Counterfeit compositions compiled by our artificially intelligent artistic overlords-to-be.
If and when there are actual pictures of Trump being taken into custody, you can be certain we’ll share them here.
Could an indictment knock Trump out of the 2024 race?
If Trump is indicted, it’ll be a historic moment and instantly reshape the contours of American political life. But it’s far from a guarantee that he’ll be knocked out of the 2024 race. There’s nothing in the Constitution that necessarily prevents Trump from running even if convicted of a crime — there’s even historical precedent for at least one presidential candidate winning votes while imprisoned.
As far as the Republican electorate is concerned, Trump’s various transgressions of norms and laws in the past several years have never left a lasting mark on his steady 40% approval rating. Part of this is because Trump’s central appeal to his base lies in operating outside the rules of a “corrupt” establishment in order to deliver change. It’s unclear if criminal charges will do anything to change that.
You can read more about this question here.