Trump indictment: What we know and what happens next
Former President Trump’s indictment by a Manhattan grand jury has sent the political and legal worlds into a frenzy.
Here’s what we know so far about the case against Trump and what could happen next as the country awaits the former president’s arraignment.
Surprise jury vote on Thursday
A Manhattan grand jury voted Thursday to indict Trump on criminal charges for his role in organizing hush money payments made to an adult film star during his 2016 campaign.
The indictment, which remains under seal, follows an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) that centered on a $130,000 payment fixer Michael Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election.
The indictment required support from a majority of the grand jury, which typically is made up of 16 or 23 people and hears evidence in secret.
The timing of Thursday’s announcement came as something of a surprise. The grand jury had not met as scheduled on multiple occasions the past two weeks, and multiple reports emerged earlier in the week that it would go on a one-month hiatus that had previously been planned.
“I think what happened was the delay was because with all the hype, especially when President Trump came up about, ‘go protest,’ I think the jurors were frightened to come in. So I think that’s why they held it off, let it calm down a little bit,” said Karen Santucci, a former New York grand jury court reporter who now directs Plaza College’s court reporting program.
Catch up with coverage of the Trump indictment from The Hill:
- George Soros responds to GOP attacks over Manhattan DA: ‘I don’t know him’
- DeSantis: Florida won’t cooperate with Trump extradition
- Republicans see indictment as boon for Trump in 2024
- Trump’s historic indictment: Five takeaways
- Ivanka Trump ‘pained’ over father’s indictment
- White House says it had no advance warning of Trump indictment
Trump is expected to be arraigned next week
Trump is expected to be arraigned in Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon at 2:15 EDT, according to a court spokesperson.
A spokesperson for Bragg’s office on Thursday said they have been in touch with Trump’s lawyers to coordinate his surrender.
Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, said on “Good Morning America” on Friday that much of what will happen is still unknown, but he does not expect Trump to be put in handcuffs.
“We’ll go in there, and we’ll proceed to see a judge at some point, plead not guilty, start talking about filing motions, which we will do immediately,” Tacopina said.
Speculation has been rampant for weeks over whether Trump would be handcuffed, fingerprinted and have his mugshot taken, though any mugshot would not be made public, in accordance with New York state law. That whole process will play out Tuesday under intense media attention.
“I’m sure they’ll try and get every ounce of publicity they can from this thing,” Tacopina said.
Trump is expected to be released after next week’s arraignment since the indictment does not include violent felony charges.
We still don’t know the exact charges
The indictment stems from the hush money payment to Daniels before the 2016 election, but beyond that little will be known until Trump is arraigned.
The indictment — which contains the specific charges — will remain under seal until Trump appears in court for his arraignment on Tuesday, unless Bragg successfully asks a judge to unseal it early.
CNN and NBC News reported Trump is facing roughly 30 counts related to business fraud.
The specifics remain unclear, but a source familiar with the proceedings confirmed to The Hill that the indictment includes a felony.
The number and nature of the charges will provide more clarity about the case prosecutors intend to bring against Trump, and it could shed light on how much evidence they have against the former president.
But Trump’s lawyers have said they’ll fight them
While the specific charges Trump is facing won’t be known publicly for a few more days, the former president and his team have already made clear they intend to put up a fight.
“President Trump has been indicted. He did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in Court,” Trump attorneys Tacopina and Susan Necheles said in a statement shortly after the indictment was announced.
Tacopina told “Good Morning America” on Friday he plans to file motions “immediately, and very aggressively regarding the legal viability of this case.”
The former president took to Truth Social on Friday to preemptively attack the judge who will handle his case, Juan Marchan, claiming Marchan had previously treated his companies “viciously.”
“Appealing!” Trump added in all caps.
Possibility of protests
The specter of protests — and concerns about potential violence — are likely to linger for the next several days, particularly after Trump in mid-March urged his supporters to protest his eventual arrest.
“I’m going to New York on Tuesday. We MUST protest the unconstitutional WITCH HUNT!” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), one of Trump’s most ardent defenders, tweeted Friday.
Jesse Watters, a Fox News host, warned Thursday that the country “is not going to stand for” Trump’s indictment.
“And people better be careful. And that’s all I’ll say about that,” Watters said.
Other leading Republicans have sought to tamp down the idea of widespread demonstrations over Trump’s indictment or call for any protests to remain peaceful.
There is expected to be a heightened police presence around the Manhattan courthouse where Trump will be arraigned on Tuesday, and authorities were unloading metal barriers in the vicinity days before the indictment was announced.
Trump will be accompanied by Secret Service agents throughout the process, and they will likely be coordinating with court authorities and local law enforcement.
Trump will keep running for president
Trump is running for the Republican presidential nomination for 2024, and he has for months said he would not drop out of the race even if he were indicted.
Statements from Trump and his team on Thursday made clear that remains the case.
“The political elites and powerbrokers have weaponized government to try and stop him. They will fail. He will be re-elected in the greatest landslide in American history, and together we will all Make America Great Again,” Taylor Budowich, head of the Trump-aligned MAGA, Inc. super PAC, said in a statement.
There is no legal standard that prevents Trump from running while under indictment, and even a potential conviction would not disqualify him from campaigning.
Other 2024 Republican hopefuls largely attacked Bragg and called the indictment politically motivated, though few defended Trump’s conduct or mentioned the former president by name.
Former Vice President Pence dodged a question about if he’d call on Trump to drop out if he’s convicted, calling it a hypothetical matter.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who is weighing a 2024 bid, said Trump should drop out of the race, but he acknowledged he wouldn’t.
“To me the office of presidency is more important than any one person,” Hutchinson said on Fox Business Network.
Zach Schonfeld contributed reporting
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.