A grand jury has reportedly indicted Donald Trump on criminal charges stemming from his role in a hush-money payoff to the porn star Stormy Daniels. This historic event is a tragedy for the American republic not because of what it has revealed about Trump, but because of what it is revealing about us as voters and citizens.
Donald Trump is said to have been charged with crimes in New York. This is a good day for America, because it shows, in the most direct way possible, that no one in this country is above the law. Trump’s status as a former president has not shielded him from answering for his alleged crimes.
The indictment itself is shot through with tension, because Trump is, in fact, a former president and a current leading presidential candidate—which underscores the ghastly reality that no matter how much we learn about this crass sociopath, millions of people voted for him twice and are still hoping that he will return to power in the White House.
The Manhattan DA’s office wanted Trump to surrender on Friday, but Trump’s lawyers “rebuffed the request, saying that the Secret Service, which provides security detail for the former president, needed more time to prepare”, Politico reports, citing an unnamed source but saying the exchange was confirmed by Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina.
A grand jury in Manhattan voted Thursday to indict Donald Trump — the first time a former U.S. president has faced criminal charges. The historic indictment comes in a case centered on $130,000 in payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign. Daniels claimed she slept with the married Trump in 2006, a claim the former president has denied. Trump had classified his reimbursement of the payout as a legal expense.
A spokesperson for the DA’s office confirmed the indictment in a statement Thursday night. “This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s Office for arraignment on a [New York] Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal,” the spokesperson said. “Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”
Trump attorney Susan Necheles told NBC News that the former president, who lives in Florida, is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday. He is expected to surrender to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Trump attorney Joe Tacopina said earlier Thursday.
“President Trump has been indicted. He did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in Court,” Necheles and Tacopina said in a joint statement.
The tentative plan is for Trump to appear before acting Justice Juan Merchan after 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday for his felony arraignment, two officials familiar with the matter said. Merchan presided over the DA’s successful tax fraud prosecution of Trump’s company last year.
Trump blasted the news in a statement Thursday evening. “This is Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history,” Trump said in a statement. “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 in an act of blatant Election Interference.”
Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing related to the probe and called the investigation by Democratic Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office a continuation of the partisan “witch hunt” against him. He’s also accused Bragg, who’s Black, of being a “racist.”
The decision is sure to send shockwaves across the country, pushing the American political system – which has never seen one of its ex-leaders confronted with criminal charges, let alone while running again for president – into uncharted waters.