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State prosecutors in Manhattan subpoenaed President Trump’s family business on Thursday, reviving an investigation into the company’s role in hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to people briefed on the matter.
The subpoena, issued by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, demanded the Trump Organization provide documents related to money that had been used to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump.
The inquiry from the district attorney’s office, which is in early stages, is examining whether any senior executives at the company filed false business records about the hush money, which would be a state crime, the people said.
Marc L. Mukasey, an attorney for the Trump Organization, called the inquiry a “political hit job.”
“It’s just harassment of the president, his family and his business, using subpoenas as weapons. We will respond as appropriate,” Mr. Mukasey said.
The investigation will focus on a $130,000 payment Michael D. Cohen, the president’s lawyer and fixer at the time, gave Ms. Daniels. Mr. Cohen also helped arrange for a tabloid media company to pay the Playboy model Karen McDougal, a second woman who said she had had an affair with the president. The disclosure of the payments ignited a scandal that threatened to derail the Trump presidency.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office on Thursday separately subpoenaed the media company, American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer.
The subpoenas from Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, came only weeks after the Trump Organization had appeared to fend off federal scrutiny of the same payments.
The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, which charged Mr. Cohen last year with campaign finance violations in the hush-money case, revealed in a court filing last month that prosecutors had “effectively concluded” their inquiry, signaling that it was unlikely they would file additional charges.
But state law makes it a crime to falsify business records, offering the Manhattan district attorney’s office another avenue.
The Trump Organization reimbursed Mr. Cohen for his payment to Ms. Daniels. State prosecutors are examining whether the company — and any of its senior executives — then falsely listed the reimbursement as a legal expense, the people briefed on the matter said.
Following the groundwork laid in the federal investigation, the district attorney’s office is expected to scrutinize the senior ranks of the company, although it is unclear whether the inquiry will reach the president. Mr. Trump has denied the affairs and any wrongdoing.
While Mr. Cohen has said he arranged the hush-money at the direction of Mr. Trump — and federal prosecutors have since repeated that accusation in court papers — less is publicly known about the president’s role. Mr. Cohen is currently serving a three-year prison sentence in Otisville, N.Y.
A spokesman for American Media Inc., the media company that was subpoenaed, did not respond to a request for comment. The company bought the rights to Ms. McDougal’s story of an affair with Mr. Trump and never ran the story. The company, whose leader was friends with Mr. Trump, cooperated with the federal investigation and received a nonprosecution agreement.
The district attorney’s office initially considered mounting the inquiry nearly a year ago, after Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty. Mr. Vance’s office paused at the request of the federal prosecutors.
Mr. Vance’s latest foray into the hush-money case could present a legal and political quandary.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers will try to portray Mr. Vance, a Democrat, as leading a partisan attack. Earlier this year, similar criticism was leveled by a lawyer for Paul J. Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman. After Mr. Manafort was convicted of federal crimes, Mr. Vance’s office charged him with state felonies in hopes he would still face prison if he received a presidential pardon.
Still, if Mr. Vance declined to bring charges in the hush-money case, the decision could fuel criticism that he has pulled punches with the Trump family. His office previously declined to charge two of Mr. Trump’s children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., who were under criminal investigation in 2012 over allegations that they misled buyers interested in the Trump SoHo hotel-condominium project.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Vance declined to comment on Thursday’s subpoenas.
Even if the new investigation ultimately leads to charges, state law would limit the severity of the punishment. A charge of filing false business records could amount to a misdemeanor. It becomes a felony only if prosecutors can prove that the filing was done to commit or conceal another crime.
It is unclear whether, under the law, the state prosecutors can cite the federal campaign finance violations as the other crime.
Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.