Home » Trump Becomes First US President to Face Criminal Charge

Trump Becomes First US President to Face Criminal Charge

by Daudu John

Trump Becomes First US President to Face Criminal Charge

Donald Trump has been indicted following a years-long investigation by Manhattan prosecutors that has led to the first criminal charges against a former US president in the country’s history.

The district attorney’s office confirmed the charges, which remain under seal. Susan Necheles, a lawyer for Trump, said he would surrender to be arraigned in court on Tuesday.

“President Trump has been indicted. He did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in court,” Necheles and Joseph Tacopina, another of Trump’s lawyers, said in a statement.

The case against Trump, who is running as a Republican candidate for president in 2024, comes after a grand jury in New York heard evidence from witnesses including Michael Cohen, his erstwhile lawyer. Cohen has claimed he was ordered in 2016 to pay $130,000 to porn actor Stormy Daniels to cover up an alleged affair.

The exact nature of the charges was not immediately known. The New York Times first reported the indictment.

“This is political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history,” Trump said in a statement after his lawyers were informed of the charges. “The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to ‘get Trump’, but now they’ve done the unthinkable — indicting a completely innocent person.”

Whether the payments to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, violated campaign finance and accounting laws has been the subject of a four-year investigation by the Democratic-led Manhattan district attorney’s office. Cohen was sentenced in 2018 to three years in prison after pleading guilty to charges including campaign finance violations linked to the payment.

The unprecedented charges come after two weeks of intense speculation about the investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, which started when Trump announced he expected to be arrested last week. Media reports earlier this week indicated the grand jury hearing evidence was prepared to take an extended break from its work, prompting observers to ask whether the investigation had run aground.

Trump is expected to be arrested and processed like anyone else facing criminal charges, including being fingerprinted and photographed before entering a plea in a Manhattan courthouse, and then released on bail.

The indictment is all but certain to trigger a fierce backlash from Trump’s supporters in Washington and across the country. Many Republicans leapt to his defence on Thursday, including Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Speaker of the House, who said Bragg had “weaponised our sacred system of justice against president Donald Trump.”

Several Republican House committee chairs have already launched an inquiry into Bragg’s investigation, accusing him of bending to leftwing political pressure in pursuing his case against Trump.

Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader, urged Trump and his supporters to let the legal process proceed “peacefully”.

“Mr Trump is subject to the same laws as every American,” Schumer said in a statement. “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.”

Trump had previously called for his supporters to protest and “take our nation back” in the event that he was indicted and arrested.

Earlier this month, Trump told reporters at the CPAC conference of conservative activists that he would stay in the race for the White House if he were indicted.

“I wouldn’t even think about leaving,” Trump said at the time. “Probably it will enhance my numbers.”




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