Federal prosecutors discussed charges for Trump in Stormy Daniels case after he left office: book
Federal prosecutors discussed charging former President Trump with campaign finance violations once he left office before ultimately deciding against it, according to a new book from a CNN legal analyst.
In the book entitled “Untouchable,” Elie Honig writes that prosecutors from the Southern District of New York gained a significant amount of evidence when they charged former Trump attorney Michael Cohen in 2018 over his involvement in paying money to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump, including adult film actress Stormy Daniels, in exchange for their silence.
The prosecutors did not consider charging Trump at the time they charged Cohen because of Justice Department guidance that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime, CNN reported.
But Honig’s book states that acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss held multiple discussions with prosecutors about whether to indict Trump for his role in the case as he was about to leave office in January 2021.
They reportedly decided to not charge Trump with any crime as a result of the political ramifications of doing so and that Trump’s other actions like his steps to overturn the 2020 presidential election and his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, made campaign finance violations “seem somehow trivial and outdated by comparison.”
CNN reported that the book covers how Trump and some of the members of the mafia that Honig went after while serving as assistant U.S. attorney in New York and a state prosecutor in New Jersey “get away with it.”
Honig said in the book that his description of the prosecutors deciding whether to indict Trump is based on interviews with more than half a dozen people involved in prosecuting Cohen.
Cohen pleaded guilty to eight charges he faced, including one of making an excessive campaign contribution to Daniels shortly before Election Day in 2016.
CNN reported that prosecutors had originally prepared a draft indictment of Cohen that gave “exhaustive detail” of Trump’s involvement, but Justice Department (DOJ) officials took out almost all of it. Honig wrote that DOJ officials viewed it as “unfair” to Trump and did not want to harm the reputation of an individual who was not being indicted.
Cohen has claimed that he made the payments at Trump’s direction.
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