Trump jury fails to meet, delaying decision over indictment

Published March 23, 2023
A police officer stands outside Trump Tower, days after a message was posted on the Truth Social account of former U.S. President Donald Trump stating that he had expected to be arrested, and called on his supporters to protest in New York City, US on March 22, 2023. — Reuters
A police officer stands outside Trump Tower, days after a message was posted on the Truth Social account of former U.S. President Donald Trump stating that he had expected to be arrested, and called on his supporters to protest in New York City, US on March 22, 2023. — Reuters

NEW YORK: A New York grand jury will not meet after all on Wednesday, US media reported, delaying a decision on whether to charge ex-president Donald Trump over hush money paid to a porn star.

The panel, which operates in secret, usually gathers on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, leading to speculation that a vote on a historic indictment of a former president was imminent.

Wednesday’s session was called off, however, unnamed law enforcement officials told multiple US outlets without giving a reason for the pause. The New York Times reported that interruptions in grand jury proceedings are not unusual.

Insider, which broke the news of the cancelled meeting, quoted one source as saying the panel may not gather again this week, meaning that the earliest a decision might come is on Monday.

With barricades outside Trump Tower and police on high alert, New York has been holding its breath over the expected indictment for days, particularly after Trump claimed at the weekend that he would be arrested on Tuesday. He wasn’t.

The 76-year-old Republican would become the first former or sitting president to ever be charged with a crime if the panel votes to indict.

The unprecedented move would send shockwaves through the 2024 election campaign, in which Trump is running to regain office.

It would also raise the prospect of a former leader of the free world being arrested, booked, fingerprinted and possibly handcuffed.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg formed the grand jury in January following his investigation into $130,000 paid to Stormy Daniels in 2016.

Grand juries operate behind closed doors to prevent perjury or witness tampering before trials, making it virtually impossible to follow their proceedings.

A spokesperson for Bragg said that she “can’t confirm or comment on grand jury matters”. Even once the panel takes a decision, it is unclear when Bragg would announce any charges.

Legal experts have suggested it could take some time before Trump — currently at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida — is arraigned before a Manhattan Criminal Court judge.

The hush-money payment was made weeks before the 2016 election, allegedly to stop Daniels from going public about a liaison she says she had with Trump years earlier.

Trump denies the affair and has called the inquiry a “witch hunt”.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2023

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