The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is considering pursuing criminal charges against the Trump Organization and two senior company executives in connection to Michael Cohen’s payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, the New York Times reported Thursday, citing two officials with knowledge of the matter.
According to the Times, a state investigation would focus on how the Trump Organization accounted for its reimbursement to Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, for the $130,000 he paid to Daniels, who said she had an affair with President Donald Trump. Trump has denied the affair.
When he pleaded guilty Tuesday in Manhattan federal court to eight criminal counts of campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud, Cohen admitted he paid Daniels the hush money during the 2016 campaign. Cohen was speaking as he accepted a plea deal that includes jail time.
The officials who spoke to the Times said the DA’s office has not yet made a decision on whether to proceed and the review is only in the earliest stages.
The Times reports the Trump Organization recorded the reimbursement to Cohen as a legal expense, but federal prosecutors said Cohen did no legal work in connection with the matter. The payments were for fake legal invoices in connection with a nonexistent retainer agreement, according to the report.
The Trump Organization declined to comment to the Times.
Should charges come against the organization or employees of the organization, Trump would not be able to pardon them. While the President has vast pardon powers over federal crimes, those powers do not extend to state crimes.