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Michael Cohen. Photo: Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for records related to hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels by Michael Cohen during the 2016 presidential campaign, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The Southern District of New York said earlier this month that it had "effectively concluded" its federal investigation into the payments without charging anyone except for Cohen, who is currently serving out a 3-year sentence for campaign finance violations. State prosecutors are now investigating whether the Trump Organization falsely listed its reimbursement of Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Daniels as a legal expense, which would be illegal under New York law, per the Times.

  • Vance's prosecutors have also reportedly subpoenaed American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Inquirer, which admitted in December to making a $150,000 payment "in concert with" the Trump campaign to suppress a story about an alleged affair Trump had with former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
  • An attorney for the Trump Organization called the subpoena a "political hit job," telling the Times: "It’s just harassment of the president, his family and his business, using subpoenas as weapons. We will respond as appropriate."

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.