Former US President Donald Trump will be criminally charged over an alleged hush money payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels, and will be called before a Manhattan court on Tuesday.
New York court officials have now confirmed Trump will be arraigned on Tuesday afternoon at a Manhattan court, after a grand jury voted to indict him after investigating a $130,000 pay-out made to Ms Daniels just before the 2016 presidential election. It is said to have been made to buy her silence over an affair.
Trump has claimed the indictment is a “political persecution” and denied all wrongdoing. He is the first serving or former President of the United States to ever face criminal charges.
Writing on his social media platform Truth Social, and mispelling the word ‘indicted’, the 76-year-old said: “These Thugs and Radical Left Monsters have just INDICATED the 45th President of the United States of America, and the leading Republican Candidate, by far, for the 2024 Nomination for President.
“THIS IS AN ATTACK ON OUR COUNTRY THE LIKES OF WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE. IT IS LIKEWISE A CONTINUING ATTACK ON OUR ONCE FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS. THE USA IS NOW A THIRD WORLD NATION, A NATION IN SERIOUS DECLINE. SO SAD!”
The move to bring charges, made by district attorney Alvin Bragg, is an extraordinary development after years of investigations into the former President’s business, political, and personal dealings. It is also not the only potential legal peril the former President faces.
Trump is still under investigation over the 6 January riot at the US Capitol, as well as over the alleged storage of classified state documents at his home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. Meanwhile, the district attorney in Atlanta has for the last two years been investigating allegations that Trump and his allies meddled in Georgia’s vote count in the 2020 presidential election. He was also under investigation for impeachment twice during his time in office between 2017 and 2021.
The indictment will likely be a shock to Trump, who famously claimed in 2016 that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and “wouldn’t lose voters”. However, it is unclear as of yet exactly what impact this will have on his bid to retake the White House in 2024.
Many have said that the criminal charges will galvanise critics who say Trump lied and cheated his way to the top, but will embolden his long-time supporters, who will claim the Republican is being unfairly targeted by a prosecutor from the Democratic Party.
Democrats have responded to claims of persecution, arguing that if Trump has broken the law, he should face criminal charges like any American. Democratic Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said: “There should be no outside political influence, intimidation, or interference in the case.
“I encourage both Mr Trump’s critics and supporters to let the process proceed peacefully and according to the law.” Adam Schiff, Democrat for California, added: “The indictment of a former president is unprecedented. But so too is the unlawful conduct in which Trump has been engaged.”
But Republicans have swiftly jumped to defend the former President. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican speaker of the House, wrote on Twitter: “The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.”
And Republican senator Lindsey Graham, a longtime ally of Trump, called the indictment a “shocking and dangerous day for the rule of law in America”, as well as “one of the most irresponsible decisions in American history by any prosecutor”.
A spokesperson for Mr Bragg has confirmed that his office has contacted Trump’s attorney to “coordinate his surrender”. The former President is expected to fly to New York on Monday (3 April) and be arraigned in court on Tuesday (4 April).
It is unclear whether Trump will be handcuffed at his appearance but he will be fingerprinted, photographed and processed for a felony arrest. The United States Secret Service will be in charge of security, while according to a memo seen by NBC, New York’s police have been told to all report for duty and be prepared to deal with “unusual disorder”. In a statement, Trump’s lawyers Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina, said: “We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in court.”
Why is Trump facing criminal charges?
In 2016, adult film star Stormy Daniels contacted media outlets offering to sell her account of the adulterous affair she claimed she had with Trump in 2006 - the year after he married his current wife, Melania.
Trump’s legal team reportedly became aware of this, and his lawyer Michael Cohen has given evidence he paid £105,100 ($130,000) to Ms Daniels to ensure she stayed quiet. Mr Cohen told the grand jury in Manhattan that he had also made a hush money payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal.
The pay-out itself is not illegal. However, when Trump reimbursed Mr Cohen, the record of the payment says it was for legal fees. Prosecutors say this amounts to falsifying business records, which is a criminal offence in New York.
They have also argued this breaks election law, because his attempts to hide payments to Ms Daniels were motivated by wanting to avoid voters knowing he had an affair.