A Manhattan grand jury has indicted former President Donald Trump, making him the first current or former president to face criminal charges.
It was not immediately clear what the indictment was connected to, or what charges Trump will face. The indictment is under seal.
In a statement released Thursday evening, a spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney’s office said, “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. Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”
Crowds form outside Trump’s Florida country club
Hours after word of the indictment emerged, Trump supporters and opponents gathered outside his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Kathy Clark, a 75-year-old retired police officer from suburban Palm Beach County, stood along the road holding a “Trump Won” banner. She called Michael Cohen a liar and the indictment a farce.
“Look at Bill Clinton and his girls in the White House. I don’t care about Trump’s personal life — that’s between him, his wife and God,” Clark said.
What is Trump accused of?
While the precise charges are secret for now, prosecutors have concluded they can prove a criminal case against Trump because of the apparent subterfuge surrounding a $130,000 payment to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her from publicizing her claim about a sexual encounter with Trump. Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen funded that payment through a home equity line of credit.
Trump insisted in April 2018 he did not know about the hush money, but Cohen provided Congress a series of check images, signed by Trump, reflecting payments to Cohen that he said were reimbursements for the money he laid out, including at least two that came while Trump was in the White House. Cohen said that Trump and his company concealed the purpose of the payments by falsely labeling them as legal expenses.
Under New York law, disguising such payments in corporate records is a crime, but typically only a misdemeanor. It becomes a felony if the false business records were intended to obscure a second crime. In this case, that second crime appears to be the use of the funds to advance Trump’s presidential campaign allegedly in violation of campaign finance laws.
In the phone calls, which the source described as “check-ins,” Trump told allies he plans to fight the charges and continued to rail against the indictment and Bragg.
The news of the indictment broke just hours after lawmakers on Capitol Hill departed for a two-week Easter recess. The halls of the Capitol were quiet. On social media, Republicans were much louder.
It was only a matter of minutes after news of the indictment broke before some of his fiercest defenders on Capitol Hill rushed to his defense.
“This indictment doesn’t pass the smell test,” Sen. Thom Tillis said in a statement. “The Department of Justice already looked into the facts and decided there was no case to be made against President Trump. This is the same District Attorney who is notorious for letting violent criminals off the hook in Manhattan, but has been laser focused on pursuing a politicized prosecution of a former President.”
One moderate Republican held back from immediately assailing Bragg or the indictment, a marked departure from many of his colleagues.
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