New York Grand Jury Votes To Indict Trump

Unprecedented Charges Against Trump Involves Alleged Hush Money Payments Made In 2016

A Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Donald Trump as part of the Manhattan District Attorney’s years-long investigation, becoming the first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges.

Manhattan district attorney’s office confirmed the news that Trump had been indicted and that prosecutors had contacted Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to authorities in Manhattan.

“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,” a spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Thursday evening. “Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”

According to a law-enforcement source, Bragg wanted Trump to surrender on Friday following a grand jury’s vote to indict the former president, but Trump’s legal team rebuffed the request. Lawyers for Trump noted that the Secret Service is in charge of the former president’s security detail and they needed more time coordinating and preparing the conditions of the surrender with court officials and the New York Police Department.

Trump’s attorneys confirmed that Trump will surrender to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office next Tuesday and is tentatively expected to appear before Judge Juan Merchan after 2:15 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday.

“President Trump did not commit any crime,”. Trump’s lawyers, Susan Necheles and Joe Tacopina said in a statement. “We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in court.”

Trump blasted the news of his indictment, calling it “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history,” slammed “disgrace” Bragg, and warned the move from the Manhattan D.A. in charging the former president of the United States will “backfire.”

“This is Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history,” Trump said in a statement. “From the time I came down the golden escalator at Trump Tower, and even before I was sworn in as your President of the United States, the Radical Left Democrats – the enemy of the hard-working men and women of this Country – have been engaged in a Witch-Hunt to destroy the Make America Great Again movement.”

“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,” Trump added. “Never before in our Nation’s history has this been done.” 

Trump also noted that Democrats had “done the unthinkable—indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant Election Interference.”

“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,” Trump said.

Trump will be the first former president to face criminal charges. The precise number of charges Trump face in the indictment is not yet known, but Bragg’s case centers mostly on a $130,000 hush-money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Legal experts noted that they believe Bragg had taken the “zombie” lifeless case of alleged business fraud and elevated the misdemeanor charges to a felony if the fraud committed was conducted to further or conceal a separate crime.

However, Bragg apparently secured the indictment under an untested legal theory, alleging Trump falsified business records was done in commission of a federal campaign finance violation — through the repayment of a $130,000 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. An untested case against any defendant, let alone a former president carries the risk that a court could throw out or limit the charges.

The former president had warned that a potential arrested by the Manhattan D.A. could happen on Tuesday, March 21, citing “illegal leaks” from reports. Bragg countered Trump’s claims, stating the former president “created a false expectation” over an imminent arrest.

One of the few problems Bragg’s case entails is the statute of limitations. Given the payments occurred over 7 years ago, the legal period prosecutors can bring criminal charges has passed.

The week that Trump had predicted his arrest, Bragg had only convened the grand jury just once on Monday, March 20, while canceling the two proceedings on Wednesday and Thursday. That Monday, Robert Costello, a former legal advisor to Michael Cohen, testified before the grand jury that Trump’s former attorney and Bragg’s star witness was a “serial liar,” and pointed out that the former President did not have knowledge regarding the payments that Cohen made to Daniels.

Cohen had met over 20 times with investigators from Manhattan DA’s office before testifying before the grand jury in Manhattan Criminal Court for over five hours over two-days time earlier in March.

According to sources, prior to news breaking of the indictment, the hush-money $130,000 payments involved not only Daniels but another payment that was made to former Playbook model Karen McDougal. Both hush-money payments are well known and reported since 2018 and have been investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York and by the Federal Election Commission. 

Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York opted from charging Trump related to the Stormy Daniels payment in 2019, even as Cohen implicated the former President as part of his plea deal. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges, including tax evasion, lying to Congress, and campaign finance violations.

Cohen pleaded guilty to arranging payments to Daniels and McDougal to prevent them from going public with alleged affairs with Trump. Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in the final days of the 2016 campaign through his own company and was later reimbursed by Trump’s company, Trump Organization which recorded the payments as “legal expenses.” McDougal, meanwhile had separately received $150,000 through David Pecker, the former CEO of American Media Inc., and publisher of the tabloid magazine, the National Enquirer in August 2016. The tabloid bought the rights to McDougal’s story to suppress it — a practice known as “catch and kill.”

In 2021, the FEC also tossed its investigation into the matter of whether Trump violated election law with the $130,000 hush payments to Daniels after the 5-panel committee voted that it had failed to find “reason to believe” the former president “knowingly and willfully violated federal election law.” 

Immediate reaction to his indictment split along party lines, with Republicans, including current and potential 2024 contenders quickly coming to Trump’s defense to slam Bragg for prosecutorial abuse while Democrats cheered the grand jury’s decision.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, the first major Republican candidate to enter the 2024 race after Trump announced his bid, tweeted, “This is more about revenge than it is about justice.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called the indictment a “weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda,” and vowed that the Sunshine State will “not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue.”

The White House has opted to keep silent, referring questions about the indictment to the Democratic National Committee. According to officials, Biden is avoiding a scrum that threatens to pull him into the drama on the cusp of a potential re-election announcement. Democrats close to Biden said any comments by the President about Trump’s mounting legal troubles could be construed as an attempt to influence his Attorney General Merrick Garland. It also risks bringing more scrutiny to the forefront regarding his son, Hunter Biden and the countless investigation ongoing on his shady foreign business dealings.

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New York Grand Jury Votes To Indict Trump

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