Philadelphia, PA- A Manhattan grand jury has indicted Donald Trump, marking a historic moment after years of investigations into his personal, political, and business dealings. This comes as a sudden blow to his White House bid. The specific charges are unclear as the indictment remains under seal, but they are related to payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to hush claims of an extramarital affair. Prosecutors are currently working on arranging for Trump to surrender, potentially happening as early as next week. It is unknown whether they plan to seek imprisonment in the event of a conviction. However, this would not prevent Trump from running for and assuming the presidency.
The first indictment against a former US president brings a local district attorney’s office into the center of a national presidential race and triggers criminal proceedings in a city where the ex-president has lived for decades. The charges, amid deep political divisions, are expected to reinforce contrasting views between those who see the move as overdue accountability and those, like Trump, who believe he is being politically targeted by a Democratic prosecutor.
Trump, who denies any wrongdoing and has criticized the investigation, labeled the indictment as “political persecution” and predicted it would harm Democrats in 2024. Defense lawyers Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina stated that Trump “did not commit any crime” and vowed to “vigorously fight this political prosecution in court.”
The Manhattan district attorney’s office confirmed the charges and contacted Trump’s defense team to arrange his surrender. Tacopina said Trump is likely to turn himself in on Tuesday.
During an interview on NBC’s “Today” show on Friday morning, Joseph Tacopina stated that they were currently working out logistics for Donald Trump’s surrender and that he would not be “holing up” in Mar-a-Lago. Tacopina also asserted that Trump would not accept a plea deal because, in his opinion, there was no crime committed. The Associated Press reported that Trump was asked to surrender on Friday, but his lawyers said the Secret Service needed more time to prepare security arrangements. District Attorney Alvin Bragg left his office without comment on Thursday evening. The case concerns allegations from 2016 regarding payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, both of whom claimed to have had extramarital sexual encounters with Trump. The exact nature of the charges remains unknown as the indictment is currently under seal.
Although Trump’s attorneys refused the invitation, a lawyer aligned with the former president briefly testified to challenge Cohen’s credibility. Trump himself had earlier issued a statement this month, predicting his imminent arrest and calling for protests. While he did not repeat the call in a fresh statement on Thursday, the New York Police Department put all its 36,000 officers on alert, ready to respond to any possible protests or unrest.
Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in late 2016 to keep her silent about a sexual encounter she claimed to have had with Trump ten years earlier after they met at a celebrity golf tournament. The Trump Organization later reimbursed Cohen, and the lawyer also received bonuses and additional payments, which were logged internally as legal expenses. The company paid Cohen a total of $420,000 over several months. Cohen also arranged for the publisher of the National Enquirer to pay McDougal $150,000 in 2016 to prevent her from revealing her story of a Trump affair in a questionable practice known as “catch-and-kill.”