NEW YORK – Mr Donald Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen said he testified for a second and final time before a New York grand jury investigating the former president for potential crimes tied to hush-money payments made to a porn star during the 2016 US presidential campaign.
Following his appearance before the grand jury on Wednesday, which lasted at least two hours, Mr Cohen told reporters he looked forward to testifying at trial if prosecutors decide to charge Mr Trump.
Mr Cohen made his first appearance before the panel on Monday.
He would be a crucial witness for prosecutors.
Mr Cohen pleaded guilty to federal fraud and campaign finance charges in 2018, admitting that he arranged illegal hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg is probing whether Mr Trump and his company falsified records to conceal payments to Ms Daniels to keep her from going public about an alleged sexual encounter with Mr Trump.
Mr Cohen said he paid Ms Daniels US$130,000 and was reimbursed.
He showed a congressional committee a cheque for the amount, signed by Mr Trump.
Mr Cohen said he acted at the direction of Mr Trump.
Asked if he felt vindicated going before the grand jury, Mr Cohen replied: “This isn’t a question of vindication.”
“At the end of the day, Donald Trump needs to be held accountable for his dirty deeds, if in fact, that’s the way the facts play out. Plain and simple,” Mr Cohen said.
“This is about holding accountability, truth to power and everything in between.”
Mr Lanny Davis, Mr Cohen’s lawyer, said they would not comment on what questions, if any, the jurors asked him at the end of his session.
“When I met Michael, he had decided to tell the truth and face the consequences,” Mr Davis said.
“He could have decided otherwise, the way some people have and been pardoned. Instead, he told the truth and did his time and he took responsibility, and he’s still telling the truth.”
Mr Trump has denied any wrongdoing and called Mr Bragg’s investigation “a political witch hunt”.
In a post on his social website Truth Social, Mr Trump said: “I never had an affair with Stormy Daniels, nor would I have wanted to have an affair with Stormy Daniels.”
Even as he runs for president in the 2024 race, Mr Trump faces legal threats on several fronts.
Besides Mr Bragg’s investigation, he is contending with a Georgia criminal probe into his efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results and a US Justice Department inquiry into his handling of classified documents.
Ms Daniels’ lawyer, Mr Clark Brewster, issued a statement on Twitter on Wednesday, saying that he and his client met with Mr Bragg about the Trump investigation.
“At the request of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, Stormy Daniels and I met with prosecutors today. Stormy responded to questions and has agreed to make herself available as a witness, or further inquiry if needed,” Mr Brewster said. BLOOMBERG