A Manhattan grand jury has voted to indict former US President Donald Trump, The Washington Post reported citing his lawyers.
The indictment makes Trump the first person in the history of the US to serve as commander-in-chief and then be charged with a crime. This came weeks after speculation about whether and when Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg might take a step. The indictment was unsealed, which implies that the specific charges or charges are not publicly known yet. The grand jury had been hearing evidence about hush money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, as per the news report.
Alvin Bragg and his investigative team were probing whether Trump falsified business records related to the payments in a manner that could make a campaign finance violation, as reported by The Washington Post.
Former US President Donald Trump was at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home and a private club on Thursday when his lawyers said he had been indicted. How or when Trump could be brought to New York to respond to the charges was not clear. Security will be a concern considering that Trump has a significant Secret Service detail as a former president, the report said.
Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina, the lawyers who have been representing Trump in the Bragg case, in a statement, said that their client was indicted. They further said, “He did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in Court,” according to The Washington Post report.
Trump has repeatedly denied all wrongdoing and stressed that those probing him were making politically motivated accusations.
An arrest warrant is typically issued automatically after an indictment is filed against a defendant who has not been charged previously in a criminal complaint.
In the case of Donald Trump, the indictment was filed behind closed doors at the lower Manhattan courthouse after the clerk’s office was closed for the day.
Bragg’s investigation seems to have focused on USD 130,000 paid by Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who has said he fronted the money involved in the Stormy Daniels transactions to ensure her silence ahead of the election in 2016, as reported by The Washington Post.
The money was later reimbursed by Trump, as per the news report. The reimbursement payments were classified as legal fees, The Washington Post reported while citing previous investigations.
Michael Cohen served time in prison after pleading guilty in two federal criminal cases. He also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress and his credibility has been attacked by Trump’s defenders.