Trump indicted in Stormy Daniels hush money case
Former President Trump was indicted on criminal charges in New York on Thursday for his role in organizing hush money payments made to an adult film star during his 2016 campaign.
The history-making indictment marks the first time a president has been charged in a criminal matter and comes as several law enforcement entities are investigating Trump’s conduct in numerous probes.
The charges laid out in the indictment remain unclear.
Trump is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday according to a source close to the former president, when he will appear in court so the charges against him can be read aloud.
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 election.
Trump’s company labeled Cohen’s reimbursement of the payment as a legal expense and did not disclose them in campaign expense reports.
Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 and served time for his role in the matter on charges related to campaign finance violations and tax fraud. He claimed that Trump directed him to make the payment and that Trump reimbursed him in monthly installments that included a bonus.
The payment was made as part of a nondisclosure agreement as Daniels was prepared to go public with claims she has a sexual relationship with Trump — an affair he denies.
Trump has repeatedly dismissed the investigation as a witch hunt and previously called on supporters to protest his arrest.
“President Trump has been indicted. He did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this this political prosecution in Court,” Trump attorneys Joe Tacopina and Susan Necheles said in a joint statement.
Trump himself noted the historic nature of the indictment in a lengthy statement that otherwise blasted Bragg and dismissed the validity of any charges, suggesting they were politically motivated.
“Never before in our Nation’s history has this been done,” Trump wrote.
“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.”
Bragg’s office said little about the indictment Thursday beyond indicating Trump was soon to be arraigned.
“This evening we contacted Mr. 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,” a spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Trump’s attorneys and campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The charges against Trump follow reports that the grand jury empaneled to hear evidence in the case was not set to meet again to weigh evidence until late April. Bragg retained the ability to call for a vote on the indictment even on days the grand jury was not meeting about the case.
Legal observers suggest an indictment of Trump would likely focus on charges of falsifying business records, but bumping that up from the misdemeanor to a felony could prove difficult.
A felony charge requires a connection to a second crime and would augment the maximum prison time from one year to four years.
State laws prohibit making “a false entry in the business records of an enterprise” — something Trump and Cohen may have violated by claiming the payments were for legal services that were never rendered.
Trump has also previously suggested the case extends beyond New York’s statute of limitations, which for most state felonies is five years.
But the case could be “tolled,” which allows for the extension of the timeline to bring criminal charges. New York allows such a move when a defendant has continually been out of the state.
Though they are the first charges to be filed against Trump, others could soon follow.
Trump on Monday sought to quash an investigation by Georgia authorities over his effort to influence the election there. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said earlier this year that charging decisions are imminent.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has also appointed a special counsel to review both Trump’s role in the broader investigation into Jan. 6, 2021, and the mishandling of government records at Mar-a-Lago.
This story was updated at 7:16 p.m.
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