A Manhattan grand jury has indicted Donald Trump on charges of making hush money payments to a porn star during his 2016 campaign, making him the first former US president to face criminal charges and upending his bid to retake the White House in 2024.
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who has been leading the probe, confirmed on Thursday evening that it had contacted Trump’s lawyers to “coordinate his surrender” on unspecified charges.
A spokesperson for District Attorney Bragg stated that “This evening we contacted Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D. A.’s office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal. Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”
The New York Times newspaper, stating five people with knowledge of the matter, reported that the grand jury on Thursday voted to indict 76-year-old Trump, a Republican, for his role in paying money to porn star Stormy Daniels in an attempt to buy her silence over an alleged affair.
The report termed it “a historic development that will shake up the 2024 presidential race and forever mark him as the nation’s first former president to face criminal charges.”
Trump, the 45th US President from 2017 to 2021, is expected to fly from his home in Florida to New York on Monday and be arraigned in court on Tuesday, two sources familiar with the matter told CBS News.
At the hearing, which is expected to last about 10-15 minutes, the charges in the indictment will be read to him. Donal Trump has denied any wrongdoing in connection with the campaign contributions.
In a statement released in response to the news of his indictment, the former president described it as “political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history,” accusing Democrats of “weaponizing our justice system to punish a political opponent, who just happens to be the President of the United States.”
“The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to ‘Get Trump,’ but now they’ve done the unthinkable — indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant Election Interference,” Trump said.
He lashed out at the Manhattan district attorney, calling the prosecutor a “disgrace”, and accused him of “doing Joe Biden’s dirty work”.
Trump attorneys Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina issued a statement, saying that the former president “did not commit any crime” and vowed to “vigorously fight this political prosecution in Court.”
The case is related to a payment that was made in 2016, just a few days before Trump was elected president. Michael Cohen, his former attorney, set up a wire transfer of $130,000 to Daniels in exchange for her silence regarding an alleged liaison.
Daniels claims she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006 at a hotel in Lake Tahoe, the year following his marriage to Melania. The USD 130,000 settlement was made, according to Cohen’s testimony in court, “in coordination with and at the direction of” the former president. Cohen was imprisoned from 2018 to 2020 for a variety of offences.
Trump was twice impeached by the House of Representatives. He was acquitted by the Senate both times.