As tensions rise over a potential indictment, Donald Trump created a “false expectation” of his impending arrest, according to the New York prosecutor looking into the former president’s use of hush money.
The remarks were made by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in a letter to three Republican lawmakers who had written to Bragg asking him to testify before Congress about his investigation.
The Republicans — who are all chairs of House committees — accused Bragg, a Democrat, of launching a “politically motivated prosecution” in their letter dated on Monday.
It was sent after Trump stated on Saturday that he anticipated being arrested on Tuesday without offering any supporting documentation.
Leslie Dubeck, the general counsel for Bragg’s office, wrote in the response, which was seen by AFP on Thursday, “Your letter… is an unprecedented inquiry into a current local prosecution.”
“The letter only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be detained the next day and his lawyers apparently pushed you to intervene. Neither fact is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry,” she added.
Donald Trump’s post on Truth Social generated a media frenzy, calls for protests by supporters, and saw New York police create barricades outside Bragg’s office, Trump Tower and the courts.
But the timing of any indictment is unclear.
The grand jury, which would be tasked with voting on whether to charge Trump, was not slated to sit Thursday, meaning any decision would come next week at the earliest.
If the panel led by Bragg issues an indictment, 76-year-old Trump would become the first former or current president to ever be charged with a crime.
The extraordinary decision would send shock waves through the 2024 election campaign, in which Trump is running to reclaim power.
Bragg is investigating a $130,000 payment to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
The money was allegedly given to her to prevent her from speaking out about an affair she claimed to have had with Donald Trump years earlier.
Trump’s ex-lawyer-turned-adversary Michael Cohen, who has testified before the grand jury, says he made the payment on his then boss’s behalf and was later reimbursed.
A misdemeanor charge of falsifying business records could result from the payment if it is not properly accounted for, according to experts.
If the fraudulent accounting was done to hide a different offense, such a campaign financing violation that carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison, it might be upgraded to a felony.
Analysts say that argument is untested and would be difficult to prove in court. Any jail time is far from certain.
Donald Trump has called the investigation a “witch hunt” and has denied the relationship.