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Trump Becomes First Former US President to Face Criminal Charges

Donald Trump criminal charges
Adult performer Stormy Daniels (pictured left) and former US President Donald Trump (pictured right). Credit: (first picture) The Circus / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0 (second picture) Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

Donald Trump has become the first former President to face criminal charges after he was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on Thursday.

The former President will be charged over a hush money payment to former adult movie star Stormy Daniels.

Although it is not yet clear exactly what Trump will be charged with, he is expected to be arraigned in a New York court next Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg released a statement Thursday saying the office has contacted Trump’s attorney to “coordinate his surrender” for arraignment on “a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal.”

CNN reports that Trump faces more than 30 counts related to business fraud in an indictment. Meanwhile, the New York Times says there are more than two dozen counts, also citing two unnamed sources.

Daniels claims she had an adulterous affair with the former president, and was paid to keep quiet.

Trump has strongly denied the allegations and called the indictment a “political persecution”. He took to his own social media platform to say that he does not expect to have a fair trial in New York.

“They only brought this Fake, Corrupt, and Disgraceful Charge against me because I stand with the American People, and they know that I cannot get a fair trial in New York!” he wrote on Truth Social.

In earlier comments to the press, he had described his indictment as “political persecution” and criticized the Manhattan district attorney prosecuting his case.

According to ABC News Trump has been making calls to Congressional allies on Capitol Hill Thursday night, urging them to go on the offensive and defend him.

Criminal charges Trump may face

In 2016, Daniels contacted media outlets and offered to sell the story of what she claimed was an adulterous affair with Trump which took place in 2006.

The former president has denied any involvement with the adult movie star since the allegations became public in 2018.

Nevertheless, when Trump’s team became aware that Daniels was offering to sell the story to the media, lawyer Michael Cohen paid her $130,000 to remain quiet.

This itself is not illegal. However, when Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payment, he listed the payment as a legal fee. According to prosecutors, this amounts to falsifying business records and is a misdemeanor (a criminal offense less severe than a felony) in New York.

Prosecutors could potentially make the claim that Trump also broke election law. This would be on the basis that efforts to conceal the payments to Daniels were made to hide the alleged affair from voters in order to maintain political support.

Concealing a crime by falsifying records would count as a felony, which is a more serious charge carrying heavier penalties.

A conviction for a misdemeanor would result in a fine, whereas for a felony, the former president could face a maximum of four years in prison, although even in the latter case a fine would still be more likely.

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