A Manhattan grand jury has indicted former President Donald Trump, making him the first current or former president to face criminal charges. It is not clear what the indictment is connected to, or what charges Trump will face.
Trump has been under investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which has been probing the $130,000 hush money payment made to Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who has alleged she had an affair with Trump.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, went to prison in part over the payment, which federal prosecutors believed amounted to an illicit campaign donation.
Prosecutors believe Trump falsified business records because, according to documents associated with Cohen’s federal case, Trump allegedly logged the monthly reimbursement payments he made to Cohen as routine legal expenses. “This is all about accountability,” Cohen told reporters when he arrived to testify before a Manhattan grand jury earlier this month.
Elise Stefanik, a staunch Trump ally and third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, called the indictment as “unprecedented election interference” and a “dark day for America”. She accused Trump’s political opponents of suppressing the “will and voice of the American people” and urged patriotic Americans to exercise their constitutional right to peacefully organise and vote at the ballot box.
Stefanik has publicly endorsed Trump in his 2024 presidential run.
The details of the charges against Donald Trump relate to his payment of money to a porn star before the 2016 election.
He will have to go to New York where he will be fingerprinted and have his mugshot and DNA taken. He will then enter a plea before a judge and will likely be bailed.
This case may be the first where criminal charges have been brought, but it is not necessarily the last facing the former president. There are two other big investigations involving the January 6th Capitol riot and efforts to overturn the 2020 election, which are much more serious.
Kevin McCarthy has released a statement condemning New York prosecutor Alvin Bragg for his attempt to interfere in the presidential election.
He wrote on Twitter that Bragg has “irreparably damaged our country” and that the House of Representatives will hold Bragg and his abuse of power to account. The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Bragg and his abuse of power to account.
Congressional Democrats in Congress are reacting to the Trump indictment, arguing that not even a former president is “above the law”.
Rep Eric Swalwell, who was involved in Trump’s first impeachment, said that Trump deserves every protection provided to him by the Constitution and due process under our rule of law. Two times, Democrats in the US House of Representatives took the extraordinary step to impeach Trump, but he was acquitted both times by the US Senate.
The NYPD has security plans in place for protests outside the Manhattan District Attorney’s office due to the news of Trump’s indictment. Camera crews are crammed into a press pen and news helicopters fly above. There are no signs of large protests, but the NYPD has security plans in place if that should change.
The New York Police Department has been ordered to be “prepared for deployment” in the wake of the Trump indictment, according to an internal memo.
Last week, US media reported that the NYPD had been preparing and conducting security assessments ahead of a possible indictment. However, the orders were rescinded after it became clear that the grand jury was still hearing from witnesses and that the indictment would not come immediately.
It has since been taken over by Alvin Bragg, 49, who is the first person of colour elected to the office. Bragg, who is black, claims he helped sue the Trump administration more than 100 times during its four-year term.
Bragg took office with a two-part platform: investing in alternatives to incarceration and ramping up white collar and public corruption prosecutions. He now becomes the first prosecutor – at the federal, state or local level – to bring criminal charges against a former American president.
Ron DeSantis, Florida’s Republican Governor, has criticized the indictment of Donald Trump, who is expected to be an opponent for him in the 2024 election. He tweeted that the state would not assist in an extradition request from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
DeSantis is in a tricky political situation, as if he cooperates with New York authorities, he could face the ire of a Republican voter base he would need if he ran for president in 2024, or if he defies the prosecutors, he could face legal headaches. He has few legal avenues to stop Bragg, the New York Times reported.
Stormy Daniels, a former porn star and stripper, is accused of having an affair with Donald Trump a decade before he became president. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she first met Trump at a charity golf tournament in July 2006. She also claims a stranger approached her in 2011, and threatened to harm her infant daughter if she didn’t leave Trump alone.
In 2010, Daniels briefly considered running for the US Senate from her home state on the Republican ticket. Her star turn as a thorn in Trump’s side since the 2016 election has won her many admirers online, leading to strip club and stand-up comedy tours.
Trump has repeatedly denied having an affair with her, often denigrating her appearance on social media, but wrote in a January post he wrote: “the “Stormy” nonsense… is VERY OLD & happened a long time ago”.
Stormy Daniels posted on Twitter, thanking fans for their support and love. She claimed merchandise and autograph orders were “pouring in” following the news of the former president’s indictment.
Mike Pence has described the indictment of his former boss as an “outrage” and a disservice to the country. He believes Donald Trump should focus on taking care of himself in a courtroom and that the American people will see through it. He is also calling this a political move from the prosecutor and that the American people will see through it.
Lindsey Graham, a longtime Trump ally in the Senate, has described the former US president’s indictment as a “shocking and dangerous day for the rule of law in America”. He said the indictment is “one of the most irresponsible decisions in American history” and could work in Trump’s favour in his bid to recapture the White House.
What happens if Trump is arrested?
Trump’s lawyers have indicated that the former president’s arrest would follow standard procedure, including a formal booking, fingerprints and mug shots.
This is uncertain due to the historic nature of the move and security concerns. Once the case is booked and a judge is selected, other details such as the timing of the trial and possible travel restrictions and bail requirements will fall into place.
A conviction on a misdemeanor would result in a fine, but if Trump were convicted on the felony charge, he would face a maximum sentence of four years in prison, although some legal experts predict a fine is more probable.
Trump Supporters and Protest Calls
Donald Trump’s supporters may have ignored protest calls due to a high level of paranoia in pro-Trump spaces online, believing that the Capitol riot was instigated by federal agents and anti-fascist “antifa” activists.
This is explained by the high level of paranoia in pro-Trump spaces online, which believes that any protest will be infiltrated and used to paint them in a negative light.
Chatter about fighting and “civil war” spiked after the rumours began, and police departments in several major cities are prepared for large demonstrations. There is a remarkable depth of feeling among the former president’s supporters, but as of right now there has yet to see any significant pro-Trump street protests.
Trump Indictment Summary
Donald Trump will be charged with a crime over an alleged hush money payment to former porn star Stormy Daniels. The payment was legal, but Trump allegedly recorded it as a business expense. Falsifying business records is illegal in New York, and Trump is expected to be arrested in the coming days. He is expected to travel to New York City for his first hearing in court. This could affect Trump’s 2024 presidential run.
If found guilty, he could face a fine or prison, but legal experts say it is unlikely. Trump can still run for president, but there are practical considerations. He faced two major inquiries by Congress when he was president, but was acquitted.