- A Manhattan grand jury has indicted Donald Trump on felony charges.
- The charges are likely linked to a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.
- It is unclear when Trump would be asked to turn himself in.
A New York grand jury has indicted former President Donald Trump, capping a nearly five-year investigation into his personal and business finances by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
Trump is now the first former US president to be charged with a crime, and news of his indictment and coming arraignment is certain to roil the race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, in which he’s a front-runner.
The sealed indictment follows District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s two-month, secret grand jury presentation on the fourth floor of a Lower Manhattan office building. The New York Times first reported the news of the grand jury’s vote.
“We don’t even know the charges yet,” Joe Tacopina, an attorney for Trump, told Insider. “As with any other case, we are going to fight this right from the start. We will fight this miscarriage of justice immediately and aggressively.”
The indictment’s specific contents have not yet been made public, even to the defense team, as is common in state criminal cases. It is also unknown if the indictment charges codefendants or just Trump.
But his defense lawyers and Michael Cohen — Trump’s personal attorney turned nemesis, and the prosecution’s key witness — have said that Bragg focused on a $130,000 “hush-money” payment.
The payment was wired by Cohen to a lawyer for the adult-film actor Stormy Daniels on October 27, 2016 — days before the 2016 presidential election.
It contractually assured Daniels’ silence, barring her from dropping an election-eve bombshell: details of an alleged sexual encounter she said she’d had with Trump in 2006, four months after the birth of Barron, Trump’s son with the former first lady Melania Trump.
The former president has likely been charged with falsifying business records in the first degree for allegedly lying about the hush money in his business and personal records to conceal some underlying crime, experts and defense lawyers have long predicted.
Prosecutors may cite a broad range of potential underlying crimes, including campaign-finance filing omissions on a state or federal level.
First-degree falsifying business records would be the lowest-level felony under state law. It is punishable by up to four years in state prison. There is no mandatory minimum jail sentence; a judge would be able to impose a sentence of probation.
Trump, like virtually all targets of a criminal investigation, chose not to testify before the panel.
But he has vehemently and repeatedly denied that he has committed any crimes in relation to the hush-money payment, or that he had a sexual encounter with Daniels.
He has gone on the offensive in several Truth Social posts.
Trump’s rhetoric has at times appeared to promote violence, including a post warning of “death and destruction” should he be indicted.
A recent Truth Social post included a photo of Trump wielding a baseball bat next to a second photo showing Bragg’s head. That post was quickly taken down; Trump attorney Joe Tacopina called it “ill-advised” and said “one of his social media people” put it up.
News of the indictment ends weeks of speculation that one was imminent.
On Saturday, March 20, Trump threw that speculation into overdrive, posting to Truth Social, without evidence, that he was expecting to be arrested the following Tuesday.
He called for supporters to “protest” and “take back our Country!” — echoing his comments before the January 6 riot at the US Capitol and sparking fears of violence. One of his lawyers confirmed to Insider that Trump had not been officially informed of a Tuesday arrest.
What happens next for Trump will likely follow a series of procedural steps for criminal defendants charged with white-collar crimes in Manhattan, including negotiations for a surrender date and logistical planning for his in-person appearance for booking at the DA’s office and arraignment in a criminal court building.
This story is breaking. Check back for updates.