Donald Trump, the former President of the United States, is facing more than 30 counts related to business fraud in an indictment from a Manhattan grand jury. The indictment marks the first time in US history that a current or former president will face criminal charges. Trump is expected to appear in court on Tuesday for his arraignment. The Manhattan district attorney’s office has been investigating Trump in connection with his alleged role in a hush money payment scheme and cover-up involving adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.
How Did We Get Here?
The Manhattan DA’s investigation first began under Cy Vance, Bragg’s predecessor, when Trump was still in the White House. It relates to a $130,000 payment made by Trump’s then-personal attorney Michael Cohen to Daniels in late October 2016, days before the 2016 presidential election, to silence her from going public about an alleged affair with Trump a decade earlier. Trump has denied the affair.
At issue in the investigation is the payment made to Daniels and the Trump Organization’s reimbursement to Cohen. According to court filings in Cohen’s own federal prosecution, Trump Org. executives authorized payments to him totaling $420,000 to cover his original $130,000 payment and tax liabilities and reward him with a bonus.
The Manhattan DA’s investigation has hung over Trump since his presidency and is just one of several probes the former president is facing as he makes his third bid for the White House.
What Happens Next?
A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg released a statement Thursday saying the office has contacted Trump’s attorney to “coordinate his surrender” for arraignment on “a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal.” “Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected,” it added.
Trump is expected to appear in court on Tuesday for his arraignment, multiple sources tell CNN. Judge Juan Merchan is expected to preside, one source said.
Michael Cohen’s Role
Cohen, Trump’s onetime fixer, played a central role in the hush money episode and is involved in the investigation. He admitted to paying $130,000 to Daniels to stop her from going public about the alleged affair with Trump just before the 2016 election. Cohen has also said that the indictment against Trump is “a long time coming.”
A Rare Case
The grand jury’s decision marks a rare moment in history: Trump is the first former US president ever indicted and also the first major presidential candidate under indictment seeking office. The former president has said he “wouldn’t even think about leaving” the 2024 race if charged.
The decision to bring charges is not without risk nor does it guarantee a conviction. Trump’s lawyers could challenge whether campaign finance laws would apply as a crime to make the case a felony, for instance.
Trump’s Defiant Statement
Trump released a defiant statement, calling it “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history.” Trump’s statement is expected to play well with his base, who has long felt that Trump has been unfairly targeted by the media and the legal system.
Donald Trump’s indictment for business fraud is a historic moment in US history. It marks the first time that a former president has ever been criminally charged. Trump is expected to appear in court on Tuesday for his arraignment. While the decision to bring charges is not without risk nor does it guarantee a conviction, it is clear that this is a significant moment for American politics. As the investigation continues, it remains to be seen how this will impact Trump’s future political aspirations and his standing within the Republican Party.