Manhattan Grand Jury Votes to Indict Trump

·4 min read

A Manhattan grand jury voted Thursday to indict Donald Trump in connection with a hush-money payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels, an attorney for the former president said, making Trump the first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges.

“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,” District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office confirmed in a statement on Thursday.

Trump is expected to appear in court on Tuesday for his arraignment, per CNN.

Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina maintained the former president’s innocence.

“He did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in court,” Tacopina said in a statement.

The indictment accuses Trump of falsifying business records in relation to the hush-money payments. Daniels claimed in the final days of the 2016 presidential election that she had previously had a sexual affair with Trump. Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about her claims.

Prosecutors claim Trump falsified internal business records to conceal the reimbursement payments to Cohen as legal expenses. Cohen claims Trump was aware of the misleading record keeping.

Trump reacted to the news in a statement on Thursday calling the indictment “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history” and warning “this Witch-Hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden.”

“Never before in our Nation’s history has this been done,” Trump said. “The Democrats have cheated countless times over the decades, including spying on my campaign, but weaponizing our justice system to punish a political opponent, who just so happens to be a President of the United States and by far the leading Republican candidate for President, has never happened before. Ever.”

“The American people realize exactly what the Radical Left Democrats are doing here,” he added. “Everyone can see it. So our Movement, and our Party – united and strong – will first defeat Alvin Bragg, and then we will defeat Joe Biden, and we are going to throw every last one of these Crooked Democrats out of office so we can MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

The indictment comes after Trump said earlier this month that he would be arrested on March 21 and urged his supporters to protest outside the courthouse in Manhattan. The NYPD erected steel barricades outside Manhattan’s Criminal Court on March 20, signaling a big event could in fact be coming, but the day came and went without a Trump arrest.

Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur who is challenging Trump in the 2024 GOP primary, criticized the indictment in a statement on Thursday.

“The politically motivated indictment of the 45th President of the United States marks a dark moment in American history,” he said. “This indictment will undermine public trust in our electoral system and our justice system. It is un-American for the ruling party to use police power to arrest its political rivals. Principles go beyond partisanship. The American people should decide who governs, not politically ambitious prosecutors.”

Ahead of the formal indictment, former vice president Mike Pence said the investigation smelled of “politically charged prosecution.”

“I’m taken aback at the idea of indicting a former president of the United States, at a time when there’s a crime wave in New York City,” Pence said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday. “The fact that the Manhattan DA thinks that indicting President Trump is his top priority, I think . . . just tells you everything you need to know about the radical left in this country.”

Republican Senator Rand Paul said earlier this month that Bragg should be locked up for dereliction of duty if Trump is indicted.

“A Trump indictment would be a disgusting abuse of power. The DA should be put in jail,” the senator tweeted.

CNN previously reported that the president would likely present himself in Manhattan following the formal charges and he had expressed an interest in delivering a speech afterwards. Trump’s advisers have urged him not to call for protests, according to the report.

Trump, meanwhile, has been fundraising off of the situation. “If this political persecution goes unchallenged, one day it won’t be me they’re targeting . . . It’ll be you,” an email from Trump’s campaign warned on Sunday, echoing Trump’s 2024 kick-off speech in which he promised to act as his supporters’ “retribution.”

The indictment could be the first of several, as Trump faces investigations into his alleged mishandling of classified materials, his involvement in efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and his involvement in the January 6 Capitol riot.

A federal judge ruled earlier this month that special counsel Jack Smith’s team had enough evidence to support the claim that Trump “intentionally concealed” the existence of classified documents in his possession from his attorneys, ABC News first reported. U.S. Judge Beryl Howell said that prosecutors had made a “prima facie showing that the former president had committed criminal violations,” therefore dismissing the attorney-client privileges invoked by two of his lawyers. The judge ordered Trump attorney Evan Corcoran to testify before the grand jury investigating the documents case.

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