Manhattan has started and stopped its investigation into Donald Trump's hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels so many times that it has come to be known as a "zombie case" like the mythical character who returns from the dead.
A grand jury of New Yorkers is expected to decide within days whether to bring charges against the former president for his role in a $130,000 payment his former lawyer Michael Cohen made in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen and Daniels have said the payment was to buy her silence about an affair she had with Trump in 2006 when Trump was married to his current wife Melania. Trump denies having had an affair with Daniels.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg launched the probe after his predecessor Cyrus Vance twice looked into the payment and did not bring charges, in part because winning a conviction would rely on untested legal strategies, according to a new book by Mark Pomerantz, a former prosecutor in the office.
Doubts arose as to whether state felony charges could be brought against a candidate for federal office and whether the conduct could be considered money laundering, according to the book, "People vs. Donald Trump," published last month.
The inquiry opened and shut so many times that it came to be known as a "zombie case," Pomerantz said.
"The bottom line for me was that the 'zombie' case was very strong," Pomerantz wrote. "But was it a crime under New York law?"
To be sure, it is not yet known what charges Bragg is considering bringing or if he is approaching the case with a similar legal theory to his predecessor.
Trump, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency again in 2024, has called the probe a "witch hunt." Bragg is a Democrat.
Trump's lawyers did not respond to requests for comment, but his lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, has said in television interviews that Trump was a victim of extortion by Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.
Pomerantz declined to comment.
A spokeswoman for Bragg declined to comment. His office late last year won a conviction of Trump's family real estate company on tax fraud charges. Trump was not a defendant in that case.