The Manhattan district attorney’s office on Tuesday took a significant step forward in its investigation of Donald J. Trump, meeting with his former personal lawyer about hush money paid to a porn star who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The questioning of the lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, offered the clearest sign yet that the district attorney’s office was ramping up its investigation into Mr. Trump’s role in the $130,000 hush money deal. Mr. Cohen has said publicly that Mr. Trump directed him, in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign, to buy the silence of Stephanie Clifford, the actress known as Stormy Daniels.
While the hush money was an impetus for the district attorney’s investigation, which began in 2018, prosecutors had shifted in recent years to a broader examination of Mr. Trump’s business practices. In recent months, however, the prosecutors returned to the payments, seeking to breathe new life into the investigation, The New York Times reported in November.
There is no indication that prosecutors are close to making a decision about whether to seek charges against the former president, but the interview of Mr. Cohen could portend a flurry of investigative steps.