The former US president is expected to appear in court next week, according to his lawyer
A New York grand jury has voted to indict Donald Trump following a lengthy investigation into alleged hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. The decision marks the first time a former US president has ever faced criminal charges, sending the courts into uncharted legal territory.
What’s the case all about?
Launched by Manhattan District Attorney (DA) Alvin Bragg, the investigation into Trump centered on an alleged $130,000 payment to Daniels through his then-lawyer Michael Cohen, who previously pleaded guilty to federal charges linked to the scheme. The money was supposedly meant to keep the actress from going public about a sexual encounter she claimed to have had with Trump years prior.
According to the DA’s office, Trump later reimbursed Cohen in multiple payments and recorded them as legal expenses, opening him up to allegations that he falsified business records
What are the actual charges?
Officials in New York have yet to specify the charges against Trump and his indictment remains under seal. CNN claimed that he faces “more than 30 counts related to business fraud,” citing two unnamed sources familiar with the case.
Falsifying business records can be a felony or a misdemeanor under New York law. To convict Trump of a felony count, prosecutors would have to show the records were intentionally falsified to cover up a separate crime.
How did Trump react?
The former president has denounced the indictment as “political persecution” and accused prosecutors of “purely malicious intent,” issuing a lengthy statement on Thursday denying the allegations against him. Trump previously urged his supporters to protest any charges, and has insisted he “cannot get a fair trial in New York.” Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, said he would “vigorously fight” the charges.
Can Trump still run for president?
Given the unprecedented nature of the case, it remains to be seen how a criminal indictment will affect Trump’s chances to return to the White House in 2024. Charges, and even a conviction, do not disqualify him from a presidential run, and so far the legal proceedings appear to have only energized Trump’s supporters. Some of his Republican allies have condemned the New York DA’s office for overreach, while House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has vowed to launch a probe on the matter.
What happens next?
Trump is expected to surrender to the authorities voluntarily, with his lawyer stating he was called to appear in New York for arraignment by next Tuesday. Though prosecutors in New York have suggested they hoped to take him into custody sooner, the governor of Trump’s current home state of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has said he would not cooperate with any extradition proceedings.