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New charges in Stormy Daniels hush-money inquiry are unlikely, prosecutors signal

New charges in Stormy Daniels hush-money inquiry are unlikely, prosecutors signal

Documents show Trump was in close touch with Michael Cohen
New charges in Stormy Daniels hush-money inquiry are unlikely, prosecutors signal
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before departing the White House in Washington, July 17, 2019.
Photographer: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Federal prosecutors signaled in a court document released Thursday that it was unlikely they would file additional charges in the hush-money investigation that ensnared members of Donald Trump’s inner circle and threatened to derail his presidency.

In the document, the prosecutors said they had “effectively concluded” their inquiry, which centered on payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to buy the silence of two women who said they had had affairs with Trump.

The outcome appeared to be a legal victory for Trump, whom prosecutors implicated last year in directing the payments. He had denied the affairs and any wrongdoing, but his aides considered the inquiry a greater threat than even the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the election.

At the same time, other documents released Thursday offered the government’s most detailed account yet of Trump’s involvement in the hush-money payments, showing he was in close touch with Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer.

The day before paying $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress, in October 2016, Cohen spoke on the phone with Trump twice. Less than 30 minutes later, Cohen took steps to open a bank account to pay the woman, the documents showed.

Cohen also spoke with Trump the day after wiring the money to the woman’s lawyer, the documents said. The new disclosures seem to contradict repeated statements by Trump, and those close to him, that they were unaware that Cohen had arranged the payments.

The documents did not address what led the prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan to conclude their inquiry, but people briefed on the matter said that earlier this year investigators had encountered obstacles to filing additional charges.

With Trump, the prosecutors were limited by more than just a Justice Department policy that bars charging a sitting president with a federal crime, one of the people said. Prosecutors also grappled with whether they had enough evidence to show that Trump had understood campaign finance laws and had intentionally violated them.

A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment. Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Trump, said simply, “Case closed.”

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