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Trump "won't participate" in Manhattan grand jury, his lawyer says

Former Trump lawyer testifies before grand jury
Former Trump lawyer testifies before grand jury as possible indictment looms 01:58

Former President Donald Trump will not accept an invitation to appear before a Manhattan grand jury investigating a "hush money" payment allegedly made on his behalf days before the 2016 election.

Trump was informed of his right to appear before the grand jury last week, but has decided against taking Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg up on the offer.

"He won't be participating in that proceeding — a proceeding that we and most election law experts believe is with absolutely no legal merit," said Joseph Tacopina, who represents Trump.

The potential case was described by former Manhattan prosecutor Mark Pomerantz in his recent memoir as "novel" and untested. Pomerantz said prosecutors in the office believed the Daniels payment was indicative of falsifying business records, a misdemeanor that he says could potentially be charged as a felony under New York law if intended to conceal a second crime: in this case, an alleged illegal campaign contribution.

A spokesperson for Bragg declined to comment. In New York, the offer to testify often precedes an indictment. 

Trump has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels.

The investigation is focused on a $130,000 payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, allegedly to prevent her from saying she had an affair with Trump. The deal was negotiated by former Trump attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen, who on Monday testified before the grand jury.

Sources familiar with Trump's legal team's deliberations told CBS News they expect an indictment is coming.

Cohen, who went to prison on federal charges related to the payment to Daniels, has met with prosecutors more than a half dozen times since mid-January. 

In his memoir "Disloyal," Cohen described wiring the money through a newly-created limited liability company. Cohen and Daniels have claimed she and Trump signed a non-disclosure agreement using the aliases David Dennison and Peggy Peterson.

Trump has repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing in connection with the payment, and in recent days has lashed out at the Manhattan investigation, led by D.A. Alvin Bragg, calling it "a political Witch-Hunt" and an "old, and rebuked case, which has been rejected by every prosecutor's office."

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