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New York prosecutors probing Trump form grand jury

Published: Updated:

New York prosecutors have convened a grand jury that is expected to decide whether to indict former president Donald Trump, suggesting they may have found evidence of a crime, US media reported Tuesday.

The development is the latest step towards the 74-year-old Trump, who left the White House in January, possibly becoming the first ever ex-US leader to face criminal charges.

The grand jury was set up recently and will sit three days a week for six months, reported The Washington Post, citing two unnamed people familiar with the case.

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The panel is also hearing several matters unrelated to Trump’s case, the paper added.

ABC also reported the move.

The Washington Post said it suggests that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance may have found evidence of a crime, if not by Trump then somebody close to him.

A spokesman for Vance refused to comment when contacted by AFP.

In the United States, prosecutors typically refer important cases to grand juries made up of citizens who examine the prosecution’s case in secret. They hear evidence and can request additional documents before deciding whether criminal charges should be brought.

Vance and New York state Attorney General Letitia James, both Democrats, are investigating Trump’s business dealings.

They are probing whether the Trump Organization committed tax evasion, insurance and bank fraud.

Trump denies wrongdoing and has called the investigations “a continuation of the greatest political witch hunt in the history of the United States.”

Vance’s probe initially focused on hush payments made to two women who allege they had affairs with Trump -- but the investigation has since been expanded.

Investigators suspect the Trump Organization may have artificially inflated and reduced the value of assets, particularly several properties in New York state, to either get bank loans or reduce their taxes.

Last week, James said her office was investigating the Trump Organization in a “criminal capacity” and was working with Vance’s team.

Vance, who leaves his post at the end of December, acquired eight years of Trump’s tax returns in February after a years-long legal battle that went to the Supreme Court.