The Manhattan grand jury has been hearing from witnesses, including former Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who says he orchestrated payments in 2016 to two women to silence them about sexual encounters they said they had with Trump a decade earlier
Trump denies the encounters occurred, says he did nothing wrong and has cast the investigation as a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging the Republican’s 2024 campaign
Besides the hush money inquiry in New York, Trump faces separate criminal investigations in Atlanta and Washington over his efforts to undo the results of the 2020 election
A grand jury tasked with investigating hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels has voted to indict former President Donald Trump, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
The grand jury has been hearing testimony in the case of the hush money payments Daniels allegedly authorized b in 2016. It was not clear what charge or charges Trump faces in the office; the Manhattan district attorney's office has not made that clear.
Prosecutors have been investigating since Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen admitted in 2018 that he paid Daniels $130,000 before the presidential election to silence her claims about an alleged sexual encounter the two had years earlier.
The twice-impeached Trump is the first commander-in-chief in American history to be criminally indicted.
The developments may have significant implications for the 2024 presidential election. The 76-year-old Trump has insisted he would continue to seek the Republican nomination even if the grand jury voted to indict.
Legally, an indictment would not block him from running.
Trump's team had no immediate comment on the news of the indictment Thursday.
Trump has previously told supporters he anticipated his own arrest, and urged loyalists to "protest, protest, protest!" New York City security plans have been underway accordingly. But that arrest has not yet happened.
His message seemed designed to preempt a formal announcement from prosecutors and to galvanize outrage from his base of supporters in advance of widely anticipated charges. A later post used stronger phrasing.
“IT’S TIME!!!” Trump wrote. “WE JUST CAN’T ALLOW THIS ANYMORE. THEY’RE KILLING OUR NATION AS WE SIT BACK & WATCH. WE MUST SAVE AMERICA!PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!”
It all evoked, in foreboding ways, the rhetoric he used shortly before the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office has been investigating whether Trump may have broken any state laws in connection with the alleged payments, sent an internal memo ahead of the indictment seeking to assure his staff of their safety. Bragg said his office would not be intimidated, nor would it tolerate threats to the "rule of law."
Still, local law enforcement officials are aware of potential public safety ramifications and have been preparing accordingly, out of an abundance of caution. The city once again ramped up security measures on Thursday in anticipation for possible action from the grand jury.
Trump himself did not testify before the grand jury, though Bragg did give him the opportunity to do so. It wasn't immediately clear what time he would be arraigned, nor was it clear if the media would receive advance notice, given the historic significance of -- and Secret Service concerns associated with -- the court proceedings in Manhattan.
His defense team has said Trump would surrender, either to the NYPD or at Bragg's office, which avoids an arrest.
Trump's Legal Woes: Beyond the Indictment
The indictment of Trump marks an extraordinary development after years of investigations into his business, political and personal dealings.
Even as Trump pursues his latest White House campaign — his first rally is set for Waco, Texas, later this month and he shook hands and took selfies with fans during a public appearance Saturday evening at the NCAA Division I wrestling championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma — there is no question an indictment gives fodder to his longstanding critics.
Besides the hush money inquiry in New York, Trump faces criminal investigations in Atlanta and Washington over his efforts to undo the results of the 2020 election.
A Justice Department special counsel has also been presenting evidence before a grand jury investigating Trump’s possession of hundreds of classified documents at his Florida estate. It is not clear when those investigations will end or whether they might result in criminal charges, but they will continue regardless of what happens in New York, underscoring the ongoing gravity – and broad geographic scope – of the legal challenges facing the former president.
Trump’s post on Saturday echoes one made last summer when he broke the news on Truth Social that the FBI was searching his Florida home as part of an investigation into the possible mishandling of classified documents.
News of that search sparked a flood of contributions to Trump’s political operation, and on Saturday, Trump sent out a series of fundraising emails to his supporters, including one that claimed, “I’m not worried in the slightest.”
After his post, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy decried any plans to prosecute Trump as an “outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA” whom he claimed was pursuing “political vengeance.” Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking House Republican, issued a statement with a similar sentiment.
The grand jury has been hearing from witnesses, including former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who says he orchestrated payments in 2016 to two women to silence them about sexual encounters they said they had with Trump a decade earlier.
Trump denies the encounters occurred, says he did nothing wrong, and has cast the investigation as a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging the Republican’s 2024 campaign.
Trump also has labeled Bragg, who is Black, a “racist,” and has accused the prosecutor of letting crime in the city run amok while he has focused on Trump. New York remains one of the safest cities in the country.
Daniels and at least two former Trump aides — onetime political adviser Kellyanne Conway and former spokesperson Hope Hicks — are among witnesses who have met with prosecutors in recent weeks.