Donald Trump indicted in New York hush money case
The charges, which are still under seal, come after years of investigations into Trump’s business, political and personal dealings.
NEW YORK – Donald Trump has been indicted by a grand jury in Manhattan, a historic ruling following years of investigations into his personal, political and business dealings and a sudden shock. for his attempt to regain the White House.
The exact nature of the charges was unclear on Friday as the indictment remains sealed, but they stem from payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence the claims. about an extramarital sexual encounter. Prosecutors said they were working to coordinate Trump’s surrender, which could happen as early as next week. They did not say whether they intended to go to jail in the event of conviction, a development that would not prevent Trump from seeking and assuming the presidency.
The indictment, the first indictment against a former president of the United States, puts the local district attorney’s office at the heart of the national presidential race and opens up criminal proceedings in a city. the street that the former president called home for decades. Coming at a time of deep political divisions, the charges are likely to reinforce rather than reshape the dueling views of those who see accountability as overdue and who, like Trump, feel the party Republicans are being targeted by a Democratic prosecutor for political purposes.
Trump, who has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly attacked the investigation, called the indictment a “political crackdown” and predicted it would damage Democrats next year. 2024. In a statement confirming the charges, defense attorneys Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina said Trump was “not guilty.” any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in court.”
A spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney’s office confirmed the indictment and said prosecutors have been in contact with Trump’s defense team to coordinate the surrender. Trump was asked to surrender Friday but his lawyers say the Secret Service needs more time as they prepare for security, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. Those unable to publicly discuss the security details said Trump is expected to surrender early next week.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg left the office Thursday night without comment.
The case focuses on well-documented allegations from a 2016 period when Trump’s famous past clashed with his political ambitions. Prosecutors have for months scrutinized the money paid to porn actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, whom he fears will go public with claims that they had sex. out of marriage with him.
The timing of the indictment seemed to come as a surprise to Trump campaign officials after it emerged that criminal charges could be weeks away. The former president was at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate, on Thursday and filmed an interview with a conservative commentator earlier in the day.
For a man whose presidency is defined by rule after rule, the indictment sets up another unprecedented scene – a former president being fingerprinted. and take the cup, then face accusations. For security reasons, his booking is expected to be carefully staged to avoid crowds inside or outside the court.
The prosecution also means that Trump will have to simultaneously fight for his freedom and his political future, while also fending off more dangerous legal threats, including investigations into his efforts. and its allies to annul the 2020 presidential election and hoard hundreds of classified documents.
In fact, New York was until recently seen as the unlikely candidate to be the first to prosecute Trump, who continues to face protracted investigations in Atlanta and Washington that could also lead to lawsuits. allegations. Unlike those questions, the Manhattan affair regarding the allegations against Trump occurred before he became president and is unrelated to his well-publicized efforts to overturn the election.
The indictment comes as Trump seeks to reassert control of the Republican Party and stave off a slew of one-time allies that could threaten his presidential bid. One expected lead in the race, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, called the indictment “non-American” in a statement Thursday night that apparently did not mention Trump’s name. .
When the charges were filed, Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, was pursuing an unusual case that had been investigated by two groups of prosecutors before, both of whom refused to take the explosive political step of finding Trump’s indictment. The case could also turn around in part based on the testimony of a key witness, former Trump lawyer and settler Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to federal charges arising from the payments. gagging payments, including making false statements.
The fate of the investigation seemed uncertain until it was reported in early March that Bragg had invited Trump to testify before a grand jury, a sign that prosecutors were about to bring charges.
Trump’s lawyers declined the invitation, but a lawyer closely allied with the former president testified briefly in an attempt to discredit Cohen.
Trump himself has made predictions that he will soon be indicted, releasing a statement earlier this month in which he predicted an imminent arrest and called for protests. He did not repeat that call in a new statement on Thursday, but the New York Police Department has asked that its 36,000 officers be fully mobilized and ready to respond to any protests or protests. What a potential problem.
At the end of the 2016 presidential campaign, Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to keep her quiet about what she said was a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier after they met. each other at a celebrity golf tournament.
Cohen was subsequently reimbursed by Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, and rewarded the attorney with gratuities and additional payments recorded internally as legal expenses. Within months, the company paid him $420,000, Cohen said.
Earlier in 2016, Cohen also arranged for the publisher of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer to pay McDougal $150,000 to quash her story of an affair with Trump in a suspicious manner. the press is called “catch and kill”.
The payments to the women were intended to buy secrets, but they backfired almost immediately when details of the arrangements were leaked to the media.
Federal prosecutors in New York eventually charged Cohen in 2018 with violating federal campaign finance laws, arguing that the payments amounted to unacceptable levels of support for the campaign. Trump’s presidential campaign. Cohen pleaded guilty to those charges and unrelated tax evasion charges and has served time in federal prison.
In court filings, Trump is said to have been involved in knowing about the deals – in the indictment documents indirectly referred to as “Personal 1” – but US prosecutors at the time that faltered in bringing charges against him. The Justice Department has long had a policy against prosecuting a sitting president in federal court.
Bragg’s predecessor as district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., later joined the investigation in 2019. While that investigation initially focused on gag payments, the Vance prosecutors have turned to other matters, including examining Trump’s business dealings and tax strategy.
Vance ultimately charged the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer with tax fraud related to side benefits paid to some of the company’s top executives.
The hush money issue has been referred to by the DA office as a “zombie case,” with prosecutors revisiting it periodically but never choosing to bring charges.
Bragg sees it differently. After the Trump Organization was convicted of tax fraud in December, he kept an eye on the old case, hiring longtime prosecutor Matthew Colangelo to oversee the investigation and convening a grand jury. new.
Cohen became a key witness, meeting with prosecutors nearly two dozen times, turning over emails, audio recordings and other evidence, and testifying before a grand jury.
Trump has long criticized the Manhattan investigation as “the greatest witch hunt in history.” He has also lashed out at Bragg, calling the prosecutor, who is Black, racist against whites.
The New York criminal charges are the latest shot in the deepening divide between Trump and his hometown – a reckoning for the once-favorite son who has grown rich and famous famous for building skyscrapers, hanging out with celebrities and appearing in the city’s tabloids.
Trump, who famously declared in 2016 that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone” and “wouldn’t lose voters,” now faces a threat to his right to vote. his freedom in a county where more than 75% of voters – many of whom have potential jurors – turned against him in the last election.
Tucker and Long reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Bobby Caina Calvan, Jill Colvin, and Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.
https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/donald-trump-indicted-in-hush-money-case/507-7445598a-36ce-44c0-9522-1c11ba87c672 Donald Trump indicted in New York hush money case