Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on more than 30 charges related to business fraud, according to two sources familiar with the matter – the first time in US history that a current or former president has been indicted.
Trump is expected to appear in court on Tuesday.
The lawsuit was filed under seal and will be released in the coming days. The charges are not officially known at this time.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office It is investigating the former president in connection with his alleged involvement in a cover-up scheme to pay off veteran movie star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election. Grand jury proceedings are confidential, but one witness testified for about 30 minutes before voting to indict Trump, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
The decision is sure to cause shockwaves throughout the country, sending the American political system – which has never seen one of its former leaders face criminal charges, let alone run for president again – into uncharted waters.
Trump responded to the allegations by calling it “the highest level of political persecution and election interference in history.”
“I believe this witch-hunt will backfire heavily on Joe Biden,” the former president said. “The American people understand exactly what the radical left Democrats are doing here. Everyone can see it. So our movement, and our party – united and strong – first we will defeat Alvin Bragg, then we will defeat Joe Biden, and we will remove every last one of these crooked Democrats from office so we can make America great again! ”
Trump’s decision to indict was held up by a grand jury, according to a person who spoke directly with him.As the former president braced for an indictment last week, he began to believe news reports that an indictment could be weeks – or longer – away. – Stay away.
“Is this shocking today? Hell yes,” the man said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the Trump team gauged its response.
Bragg’s office said it was in contact with Trump’s lawyers.
The district attorney’s office said in a statement Thursday: “This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate the delivery of the Supreme Court indictment to the Manhattan DA’s office.” “Instructions will be provided when a trial date is selected.”
The legal action against Trump plunges the 2024 presidential campaign into a new phase, as the former president vows to face criminal charges.
Trump has cast himself as the victim of a political investigation led by Democratic prosecutors, calling the various investigations surrounding him a “witch hunt.” As the impeachment draws near, Trump He echoed his calls for his supporters to be jailed as they try to reverse their defeat by President Joe Biden following the 2020 election, urging them to oppose the prison protests.
Trump has long avoided legal consequences in his personal, professional and political life. Over the years, he has settled numerous personal civil lawsuits and paid disputes involving the Trump Organization that bears his name. As president, he was twice impeached by the Democratic-led House, but acquitted by the Senate.
In December, the Trump Organization was indicted on multiple tax evasion charges, although Trump himself has not been charged in that case.
Trump’s Republican allies — as well as his 2024 GOP rivals — have condemned the lawsuit filed by the Montana district attorney’s office, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has vowed to investigate the matter.
Congressional Republicans quickly rallied to Trump’s defense, attacking Bragg on Twitter and accusing the district attorney of a political witch hunt.
House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of the Republican committee chairmen who asked Bragg to testify before Congress about the Trump investigation, tweeted: “It’s appalling.”
Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz called the indictment “unprecedented” and said it was “a huge blow to the instrumentalization of the justice system.”
But at least one moderate Republican told CNN he has confidence in the legal system.
“I believe in the rule of law. I think we have checks and balances and I believe in the system,” said Representative Don Bacon of Nebraska.
“We have a judge. We have judges. There is an appeal. So I think justice will prevail in the end. If he is guilty, he will appear. If not, I think that will show,” Bacon told CNN.
Bragg’s office indicated that it was close to indicting Trump after it invited the former president to testify before a grand jury investigating the hush money scheme in early March. Potential defendants in New York are required by law to notify and appear before a grand jury. But Trump ultimately declined to appear before the panel.
The long-running investigation began under Bragg’s predecessor, C. Vance, while Trump was in office. It relates to a $130,000 payment by Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to Daniels in late October 2016, days before the 2016 presidential election, to keep her from going public about an alleged affair she had with Trump a decade ago. Trump has denied the allegations.
At issue in the investigation are the payments to Daniels and the Trump Organization’s payments to Cohen.
According to Cohen’s indictment filed by federal prosecutors, Trump Organization executives agreed to pay him a total of $420,000 to cover an initial $130,000 payment and tax lien. The Trump Organization listed the compensation as a legal expense in its internal ledger. Trump has denied knowledge of the payment.
This story has been updated with additional details.