By Jacob Pamus and Miriam Raftery
March 31, 2023 (San Diego) – A Manhattan grand jury has indicted former President Donald Trump on criminal charges related to alleged pay-offs made to porn star Stormy Daniels, the New York Times and other media outlets confirm. The indictment remains sealed until the arraignment, though sources have told media outlet including CNBC that Trump could face around 30 criminal charges.
Trump is the first former president to be indicted. He is also a candidate in the 2024 presidential election, so his arrest casts unprecedented uncertainties into the campaign.
He is expected to turn himself in for an arraignment on Tuesday,, PBS reports. His attorneys have indicated that he will plead not guilty. It is anticipated that he will be fingerprinted, have a mugshot and DNA sample taken,but as is customary with New York defendants in white collar crimes, he will likely be released until the trial.
What the grand jury has been investigating
It is alleged that right before the 2016 election, Donald Trump ordered his attorney, Michael Cohen, to pay adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 for her to not speak out about an alleged affair they had in 2006. Trump has denied the affair. (photo, left, check signed by Trump that Cohen says was for hush money payment to Daniels.)
Cohen pleaded guilty to his role in the coverup, among other crimes.. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison, fined and disbarred from practicing law. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, Cohen paid Daniels and was reimbursed by Trump to coverup the affair and help Trump win the presidential election. Cohen lied to Congress about those payments and has said that Trump directed him to pay off Daniels.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg (photo, right), who will be prosecuting Trump over the hush money paid to Stormy Daniels, is also investigating a $150,000 payment made by a Trump ally to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Trump, Fox News Digital reported.
After the indictment was announced, Trump issued a statement calling the action " political persecution and election Interference at the highest level in history” and insisted his impending arrest is due to a political “witch hunt,” The HIll reported.
On social media, he without substantiation accused D.A. Braggs of being backed by liberal billioniare George Soros and further, of letting "murderers, rapists,and drug dealers walk free" while prosecuting Trump for "no crime! The politiical witch hunt never ends, but we will make America great again!!!"
Back on March 18, Trump stated on his Truth Social site that he would be arrested on March 21, though the announcement of an arrest was not made until yesterday, March 30. In a series of posts, he demanded that his supporters protest his arrest and posted an ominous warning that if arrested, “death and destruction” would follow, NBC news reported. He repeated his debunked claim of a stolen 2022 election, claiming that “the radical left anarchists have stolen our presidential election and with it, the heart and soul of our country.” Fox News has similarly claimed that the indictment over hush money payments is purely politically motivated.
On March 20, barricades were set up outside of Manhattan Criminal Court and outside of Braggs’ office in anticipation of potentially violent protests. However, the protest turned out to be small, nowhere near the size of the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. (photo, right: protest at Trump Tower on March 21, 2023, the date Trump predicted he would be arrested; CC image by DinoSoupCanada)
This may be because even ardent Trump followers do not want to be arrested and charged. To date, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, 999 people who participated in the Capitol insurrection have been arrested. Of those, about 326 have been charged with assault and impeding an officer/ So far, 518 people have pleaded guilty to crimes associated with the Capitol attack, to avoid a trial, and 69 have been tried and found guilty. Convictions include serious crimes such as assaulting and injuring police officers and seditious conspiracy, with prison sentences that are decades-long in some cases.
On March 21, the same day that Trump claimed he was going to be arrested, a bomb threat was called into a lower Manhattan court that was supposed to have a hearing regarding a $250 million lawsuit against Trump because he, his family, and company inflated the value of their real estate assets. The bomb threat was proven to have no credibility.
After Trump tried to incite a protest, prosecutor Bragg said that Trump “created a false expectation” that his arrest was imminent, citing the former presidents TRUTH Social post, and slammed the committee for making an “unprecedented inquiry into a pending legal prosecution.”
President Joe Biden has declined to comment on any legal proceedings involving his predecessor, to maintain the independence of the judicial branch of government.
Other prominent Democrats, however, have spoken out, The Hill reports. Senate Majority Chuck Schumer stated, "Mr. Trump is subject to the same laws as every American. He will be able to avail himself of the legal system and a jury, not politics, to determine his fate according to the facts and the law."
Congressman Adam Schiff, who previously led impeachment proceedings against then-President Trump, stated, “"The indictment of a former president is unprecedented. But so too is the unlawful conduct in which Trump has been engaged. A nation of laws must hold the rich and powerful accountable, even when they hold high office. Especially when they do. To do otherwise is not democracy."
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is running against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, supports Trump’s claim that Bragg is weaponizing his office for a political agenda. Further, DeSantis has said that if Trump were to opt not to surrender to authorities, as Governor he would not cooperate in an extradition to New York. Trump is unlikely to choose that path, however, as he would be unable to campaign in other states without fear of being turned over as a fugitive from justice.
Trump’s indictment over covering up payments to a porn star may not be the end of his legal woes. At least three additional investigations are pending that could result in more criminal charges.
Another grand jury In Georgia is convened to determine whether Trump should be indicted for pressuring election officials to find votes or potentially, tamper with election results.
Federal prosecutors are also looking into whether or not to charge Trump for taking numerous classified documents to his Florida residence.
Perhaps the most serious charges could stem from the special counsel’s investigating Trump’s role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol and whether his actions amounted to inciting a violent effort to overthrow the election, with some insurrectionists seeking to halt the certification of the ballots by Congress in the melee that injured more than 140 Capitol police officers and resulted in several deaths.
Never "THREATENED", but warned us what could happen
Barack Obama not indicted!
Donald Trump Indicted!
Did anyone see this coming?