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Trump Organization denounces new Manhattan DA probe

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance speaks on

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance speaks on April 16, 2019. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

A lawyer for the Trump Organization late Thursday denounced a new investigation by the Manhattan district attorney of the company's role in so-called hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels as a "political hit job."

Subpoenas issued by the district attorney's office target the way the company accounted for re-paying Trump lawyer Michael Cohen for $130,000 he gave Daniels to keep quiet during the 2016 campaign about an alleged affair with President Donald Trump, according to a New York Times report revealing the new probe.

The investigation by District Attorney Cyrus Vance's office follows the announcement last month by Manhattan federal prosecutors that they have concluded their probe of the hush money payments without charges against the Trump Organization, its executives, or anyone but Cohen, who is serving a three-year prison term.

"This is a political hit job," said Trump Organization lawyer Marc Mukasey. "It's just harassment of the president, his family and his business, using subpoenas as weapons. We will respond as appropriate."

A Vance spokesman declined to comment.

Cohen has said repeatedly that Trump directed him to make the payments to Daniels and to arrange for another woman, former Playboy model Karen McDougal, to be paid through the National Enquirer.

In court filings, federal prosecutors have said that the Trump Organization ultimately reimbursed Cohen $420,000, including the $130,000  paid to Daniels, and "falsely accounted for these payments as legal expenses" after Cohen submitted invoices "falsely indicating" that he had a "retainer agreement."

Those claims triggered widespread speculation that key Trump Organization officials with access to sensitive information about the president's business dealings could be in the cross hairs of prosecutors.

When the federal probe was closed without charges last month, Cohen issued a statement from prison that singled out the failure to charge the Trump Organization for criticism, saying it should be of "great concern to the American people and investigated by Congress and The Department of Justice."

Vance, a Democrat, has faced criticism for not pursuing charges against Trump's family over alleged misleading statements to condominium buyers before Trump became president.

The new probe marks his second foray into a Trump-related case since the 2016 election. He is currently pursuing charges against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort for fraud and falsifying business records in New York. Manafort is already serving a federal prison sentence.

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