Inside the long and winding road to Trump’s historic indictment

The New York grand jury hearing the case against Donald Trump was set to break for several weeks. 

The former president’s lawyers believed on Wednesday afternoon they had at least a small reprieve from a possible indictment. Trump praised the perceived delay.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg had other plans. Thursday afternoon, Bragg asked the grand jury to return an historic indictment against Trump, the first time that a current or former US president has been indicted. The surprise move was the final twist in an investigation that’s taken a long and winding road to the history-making charges that were returned this week.

An indictment had been anticipated early last week – including by Trump himself, who promoted a theory he would be “arrested” – as law enforcement agencies prepared for the logistics of arraigning a former president.

But after the testimony of Robert Costello – a lawyer who appeared on Trump’s behalf seeking to undercut the credibility of Trump’s former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen – Bragg appeared to hit the pause button.

Costello’s testimony caused the district attorney’s office to reassess whether Costello should be the last witness the grand jury heard before prosecutors asked them to vote on an indictment, multiple sources told CNN.

So they waited. The next day the grand jury was scheduled to meet, jurors were told not to come in. Bragg and his top prosecutors huddled the rest of the week and over the weekend to determine a strategy that would effectively counter Costello’s testimony in the grand jury.

They called two additional witnesses. David Pecker, the former head of the company that publishes the National Enquirer, appeared on Monday.

The other witness, who has still not been identified, testified on Thursday for 35 minutes in front of the grand jury – just before prosecutors asked them to vote on the indictment of more than 30 counts, the sources said.