On March 30, 2023, former President Donald Trump became the first ex-president in the history of the United States to be indicted on criminal charges. The Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Trump on charges related to payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence claims of an extramarital sexual encounter. The indictment is likely to galvanize Trump’s critics, who believe he lied and cheated his way to the top, and embolden his supporters who feel he is being unfairly targeted by a Democratic prosecutor.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and called the indictment “political persecution,” saying it would damage Democrats in the 2024 election. His lawyers have also released a statement saying that they will fight the charges in court, as they believe that Trump did not commit any crime.
The indictment is a significant development after years of investigations into Trump’s business, political, and personal dealings. It is expected to create a major impact on the political landscape, given that Trump is currently attempting to retake the White House. The charges come at a time when the district attorney in Atlanta is investigating Trump’s alleged efforts to meddle in Georgia’s 2020 vote count, a U.S. Justice Department special counsel is investigating Trump’s storage of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, and his efforts to reverse his election loss.
The charges relate to money paid to porn actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, whom Trump feared would go public with claims that they had extramarital sexual encounters with him. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, and fixer, paid Daniels $130,000 to keep her silent about the encounter, and the Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen, along with bonuses and extra payments logged internally as legal expenses. Cohen said that the company paid him $420,000 over several months.
In 2016, Cohen also arranged for the publisher of the National Enquirer to pay McDougal $150,000 to squelch her story of a Trump affair. The payments to the women were intended to buy secrecy, but they backfired almost immediately as details of the arrangements leaked to the news media.
Federal prosecutors in New York charged Cohen in 2018 with violating federal campaign finance laws, arguing that the payments amounted to impermissible help to Trump’s presidential campaign. Cohen pleaded guilty to those charges and unrelated tax evasion counts and served time in federal prison. Trump was implicated in court filings as having knowledge of the arrangements, but U.S. prosecutors at the time did not bring charges against him, as they believed it would be unconstitutional to prosecute a sitting president in federal court.
The current indictment is the result of an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which had been previously investigated by two sets of prosecutors who both declined to seek Trump’s indictment. The district attorney, Alvin Bragg, is embracing this unusual case, and the charges are the latest salvo in a profound schism between Trump and his hometown.
In conclusion, Donald Trump’s indictment is a significant development that is likely to create a major impact on the political landscape, as he is currently attempting to retake the White House. The charges relate to payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence claims of an extramarital sexual encounter. Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyers have released a statement saying that they will fight the charges in court. This is the first time in the history of the United States that an ex-president has been indicted on criminal charges, and it will be interesting to see how this case develops.