Trump hush money grand jury to hear testimony from Michael Cohen critic Robert Costello

A one-time ally-turned-critic of Michael Cohen will testify today before the grand jury investigating Donald Trump over his alleged involvement in hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Robert Costello, who once worked as a legal adviser to Cohen, told CNN that he will appear before the Manhattan grand jury on Monday at the request of the former president’s legal team.

A source told the outlet that it was Mr Costello who had reached out to both Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s Office and Mr Trump’s legal team to offer evidence in the case.

Mr Costello, who has previously represented Mr Trump’s allies Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani, is expected to contradict public statements Cohen has made about the payments to Ms Daniels and cast doubts on his credibility.

Cohen, Mr Trump’s former “fixer” and the prosecutors’ star witness in the case, also revealed that he has been asked to make himself available as a rebuttal witness on Monday.

He told MSNBC on Sunday that he will return to Mr Bragg’s offices but said he is unsure if this means he will be testifying before the grand jury or in an interview with the DA.

It is currently unclear if the pair will be the final witnesses before the grand jury votes whether or not to criminally indict the former president.

On Saturday, Mr Trump took to Truth Social to claim that he will be arrested on Tuesday and called for protests to “take our nation back” in language that drew comparisons to his rhetoric leading up to the January 6 Capitol riots.

His legal team later walked back the timeline confirming that they have not been notified that he will be indicted – or given a time for if or when it does happen.

GOP leader Kevin McCarthy also contradicted the former president’s call to action, urging Americans not to protest or become violent should an indictment materialise.

“I don’t think people should protest this stuff,” the House majority leader said in a press conference on Sunday.

Donald Trump watches the NCAA Wrestling Championships on Saturday March 18 in Tulsa (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Donald Trump watches the NCAA Wrestling Championships on Saturday March 18 in Tulsa (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Mr McCarthy suggested that Mr Trump was not speaking “in a harmful way” but was calling for his followers “to educate people about what’s going on”.

“He’s not talking in a harmful way. Nobody should harm one another,” said the GOP leader.

“And this is why you should really make law equal because if that was the case, nothing would happen.”

He added: “If was this to happen, we want calmness out there.”

New York officials are bracing for potential protests or unrest if or when an indictment lands – with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies preparing security plans including around the Manhattan Criminal Court where Mr Trump could appear to face charges.

Last week, Mr Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina went on a media blitz slamming the probe as Ms Daniels and Cohen both testified before the grand jury.

DA Bragg’s office also invited Mr Trump to testify – an invitation he unsurprisingly turned down.

While it was an invitation he was unlikely to accept, it sent the clearest signal to date that he could be criminally indicted for his role in the hush money payments to Ms Daniels.

Under New York law, a person has a right to appear before a grand jury before a prosecutor asks the grand jury to indict them on charges.

Manhattan prosecutors have been investigating whether Mr Trump falsified the Trump Organization’s business records when Mr Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen made a payment of $130,0000 to Ms Daniels days before the 2016 election.

Prosecutors claim that the money was used to silence Ms Daniels about an alleged affair she had with Mr Trump.

Mr Trump has long denied having an affair with the adult film star.

If prosecuted, Mr Trump would become the first former president in American history to face criminal charges.