New York prosecutors have convened a special grand jury to consider evidence in a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s business dealings, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The development signals that the Manhattan district attorney’s office was moving toward seeking charges as a result of its two-year investigation, which included a lengthy legal battle to obtain Trump’s tax records.
The person familiar with the matter was not authorized to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity. The news was first reported by The Washington Post.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is conducting a wide-ranging investigation into a variety of matters such as hush-money payments paid to women on Trump’s behalf, property valuations and employee compensation.
The Democratic prosecutor has been using an investigative grand jury through the course of his probe to issue subpoenas and obtain documents. That panel kept working while other grand juries and court activities were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The investigation includes scrutiny of Trump’s relationship with his lenders; a land donation he made to qualify for an income tax deduction; and tax write-offs his company claimed on millions of dollars in consulting fees it paid.
The new grand jury could eventually be asked to consider returning indictments. While working on that case, it also will be hearing other matters. The Post reported that the grand jury will meet three days a week for six months.
Trump contends the investigation is a “witch hunt.”
“This is purely political, and an affront to the almost 75 million voters who supported me in the Presidential Election, and it’s being driven by highly partisan Democrat prosecutors,” Trump said in a statement.
Vance’s office declined to comment.
The new grand jury is the latest sign of increasing momentum in the criminal investigation into the Republican ex-president and his company, the Trump Organization.
Attorney General Letitia James said last week that she assigned two lawyers to work with Vance’s office on the probe after her civil investigation into Trump evolved into a criminal matter.