Trump indicted by Manhattan grand jury in first for US president
A grand jury indicted former US President Donald Trump on Thursday on charges related to a "hush money" payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
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The indictment marks the first time in US history that a current or former president has faced criminal charges. Trump has long raged against the impending legal action and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who presented evidence to the grand jury. He has denied any wrongdoing and maintained the case is politically-motivated.
"This is Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history," Trump said in a statement. "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, however, did not indict Trump. The grand jury did so after considering evidence presented by the district attorney's office and determining there was reasonable cause for the ex-president to face charges and be put on trial.
Bragg's office reportedly invited Trump to testify before the grand jury earlier this month, in a sign that an indictment was likely to be returned. But the former president declined to do so.
Trump faces more than 30 counts in the indictment by the Manhattan grand jury, according to media reports citing sources.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office asked for Trump to surrender on Friday, but his lawyers rejected the plan and asked for more time for the Secret Service to prepare.
Trump is expected to turn himself in for an arraignment next Tuesday, according to reports.
- Republicans slam, Democrats hail Trump indictment
Former Vice President Mike Pence said this decision is ''a great disservice to the country.''
''The idea that, for the first time in American history, a former president would be indicted on a campaign finance issue, to me, it just smacks of political prosecution, and I think the overwhelming majority of the American people will see it that way," Pence told CNN.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy defended Trump and criticized Manhattan District Attorney Bragg.
''The House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account,'' he said.
Arkansas Governor and former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Bragg should resign.
Trump's son Eric Trump called the indictment ''third-world prosecutorial misconduct.''
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a possible Trump rival, said the indictment was ''un-American'' and refused to assist in an extradition request for Trump.
Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar meanwhile said in a statement that no one was above the law.
''This is just one of many criminal acts for which Donald Trump is being investigated. Make no mistake: The fact that one of the most powerful people in the world was investigated impartially and indicted is testament to the fact that we still live in a nation of laws. And no one is above the law.'' she said.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Twitter that ''no one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence. Hopefully, the former President will peacefully respect the system, which grants him that right.''
Payments were made by then Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who was sentenced in 2018 to three years in prison after pleading guilty to a raft of charges related to his work for Trump, which included hush money to two women who alleged extramarital affairs with Trump, including Daniels. Former Playboy model Karen McDougal was the other woman.
Cohen has since served as a witness against the ex-president and said he takes "solace in validating the adage that no one is above the law; not even a former president."
"Today's indictment is not the end of this chapter; but rather, just the beginning. Now that the charges have been filed, it is better for the case to let the indictment speak for itself. The two things I wish to say at this time is that accountability matters and I stand by my testimony and the evidence I have provided to DANY," he said in a statement.
He was referring to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. Cohen is now expected to serve as the prosecution's star witness.
The indictment remains under seal, so it is not currently possible to tell which charges Trump now faces. It will remain so until Bragg officially announces the indictment.
Trump is the first declared Republican candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential race and vowed to "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!”
In addition to the investigation in Manhattan, Trump is facing three other criminal probes, including in Georgia, where prosecutors are examining whether he sought to illegally change the outcome of the state's 2020 presidential election results, and a pair of federal investigations related to Trump's actions concerning the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection and his handling of classified documents after he left office.