NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s former spokesperson Hope Hicks met Monday with Manhattan prosecutors who’re investigating hush-money funds made to girls on the ex-president’s behalf — the most recent member of the Republican’s interior circle to be questioned within the renewed probe.
Hicks and her lawyer, Robert Trout, spent a number of hours contained in the Manhattan district legal professional’s workplace and, afterward, have been seen strolling to a ready SUV. They did not say something to reporters as they bought within the car.
Trout declined remark. The district legal professional’s workplace additionally declined remark and wouldn’t affirm prosecutors interviewed Hicks, who was beforehand questioned in 2018 by federal prosecutors who regarded into the identical conduct.
Hicks served as Trump’s 2016 marketing campaign press secretary and spoke with Trump by telephone throughout a frenzied effort to maintain his alleged affairs out of the press within the closing weeks earlier than the election, in line with court docket data from the federal probe. Hicks later held varied roles in his White Home, together with communications director.
Final week, prosecutors questioned Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who organized funds to 2 girls, and Trump’s former political adviser Kellyanne Conway.
After his session final Friday, Cohen advised reporters that the probe is “actually progressing.” He stated he expects to testify quickly earlier than a grand jury that is been listening to proof since January.
“The extent of specificity to which they’re attacking the varied points is extraordinary,” stated Cohen, including that he is met with prosecutors 18 occasions by means of a number of iterations of the probe.
Cohen pleaded responsible in 2018 to federal prices together with marketing campaign finance violations for arranging the payouts to porn actor Stormy Daniels and mannequin Karen McDougal to maintain them from going public. Trump has denied the affairs.
Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 by means of his personal firm and was then reimbursed by Trump, whose firm logged the reimbursements as “authorized bills.” McDougal’s $150,000 cost was made by means of the writer of the grocery store tabloid the Nationwide Enquirer, which squelched her story in a journalistically doubtful apply generally known as “catch-and-kill.”
In line with court docket data from the federal investigation, Hicks spoke for a number of minutes by telephone with Trump and Cohen on Oct. 8, 2016, the day after the discharge of the 2005 “Entry Hollywood” tape through which Trump boasted in graphic element about grabbing girls’s genitals.
Cohen, involved that the marketing campaign can be irreparably broken by tales about Trump’s alleged affairs, then spoke with prime executives on the Nationwide Enquirer earlier than calling Trump, in line with the data. Cohen then phoned Trump once more at 8:03 p.m. and spoke to him for eight minutes, adopted by extra calls, and textual content messages involving Cohen and a Nationwide Enquirer government.
The hush-money cost to McDougal remained secret till days earlier than the election, when The Wall Avenue Journal printed a narrative about it. Court docket data present that Cohen and Hicks expressed reduction to one another that the story didn’t obtain the eye they feared it will.
“Up to now I see solely 6 tales. Getting little to no traction,” Cohen texted, in line with the data.
“Identical. Preserve praying!! It’s working!” Hicks responded.
Final yr, Hicks was interviewed by the House Jan. 6 committee, telling the panel that Trump advised her that nobody would care about his legacy if he misplaced the 2020 election. She advised the committee that Trump advised her, “The one factor that issues is profitable.”
Hicks was also a key witness in former particular counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and offered vital details about Trump’s makes an attempt to hinder that investigation.
As for the hush-money probe, the U.S. legal professional’s workplace in Manhattan determined to not prosecute Trump personally over the funds. The Manhattan district legal professional’s workplace then started investigating the funds to see if any state legal guidelines have been damaged.
No prices have been introduced in opposition to Trump throughout the tenure of former Manhattan District Lawyer Cyrus Vance Jr., who shifted the probe’s focus to the Trump Group’s enterprise practices. The corporate was convicted in December of tax fraud and fined $1.6 million.
The present district legal professional, Alvin Bragg, has proven renewed curiosity in pursuing extra prices, probably in opposition to Trump himself. Doing so can be unprecedented. No former president has ever been charged with a criminal offense.
Conway’s lawyer didn’t reply to a number of messages about her assembly final week with prosecutors, which was first reported by The New York Instances.
Trump’s attorneys have stated that the funds to the 2 girls broke no legal guidelines. Trump says the investigation is politically motivated.