Donald Trump has become the first former US president to be charged and is expected to stand trial on Tuesday. The allegations relate to the return of adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, after keeping quiet about the alleged sexual encounter. The payment was made on the eve of the 2016 presidential election.
Former US President Donald Trump. (Reuters)
A New York grand jury indicted Trump on Thursday, the district attorney’s office and Trump’s lawyers confirmed.
Although specific charges will not be made public until he turns himself in, Trump is likely to be charged with falsifying business records and violating campaign finance laws.
CNN reports that he faces more than 30 fraud-related charges. The indictment, which follows a five-year investigation, will test the justice system and shape political dynamics within the U.S. Republican caucus and between Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. presidential election next year.
The indictments have created additional uncertainty for the Republican field for the 2024 presidential nomination.
Trump announced his candidacy. The indictment imposes no legal impediment to his continued candidacy for the nomination. But political observers are divided on whether that will work in his favor by further strengthening his base – or pushing Republican donors and voters toward other potential candidates, particularly Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Trump called the charges ‘the highest level witch hunt and election interference in history’ and said ‘radical left-wing Democrats’ have campaigned against ‘Make America Great’ since he announced his candidacy in 2016. ‘Witch Hunt’ campaign again”. a political opponent who happens to be the President of the United States and is by far the leading Republican candidate for President, this has never happened before.
Forever,” Trump said.
He claimed that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who led the case, was ‘handpicked and funded by [billionaire] George Soros’, and said the move would backfire. of how the indictment compels all Republicans to unite against the decision, DeSantis, who faced attacks from Trump, also called the indictment “un-American.” He claimed “Soros-backed Manhattan lawyers” were expanding the law to target Trump. Political opponent DeSantis did not specifically mention Trump in his tweets.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who has argued with Trump over the legitimacy of the 2020 election, also called the allegations “outrageous”.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy threatens to hold Bragg and “his unprecedented abuse of power” accountable.
Democrats stress the importance of letting the law take its course. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Trump was bound by the same laws as all Americans. Schumer added that Trump would have access to a legal system and juries based on facts and laws.
“This matter should not be subject to political influence, intimidation, or outside interference.”
The allegations will not be made public until after Trump surrenders on Tuesday. But this is well known. The case doesn’t hinge on Trump paying Daniels — nor does the former president deny he was paid (although he denies having sex with Daniels), and the money from the Silence itself is also not illegal.
Instead, the case likely hinges on Trump reimbursing his confidant and longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels and then provided bogus invoices to report as legal fees, thereby hiding the intention of paying.
So it’s probably built around this falsification of business records.
Trump’s lawyers deny he knew about the misleading tapes, though Cohen claims the former president was fully aware of them.
In 2018, Cohen admitted in court that he “coordinated with and at the request of federal election candidates…to make payments to two women to influence the election.” Daniels was among them.
But that would be a misdemeanor, not a felony.
To make it a felony, the case could hinge on proof that the payment violated election law, as the payment was a donation from Daniels to the Trump campaign to create and avoid a scandal surrounding the polls.
A payment of $130,000 violated the campaign’s maximum donation limit of $2,700. Cohen made the payment on October 27, 2016, 12 days before the election.
If that is the allegation, Manhattan prosecutors may have used state election law, which defines a campaign contribution as “anything of value in connection with an election.”
Beyond the Manhattan case, Trump faces other legal challenges.
It revolves around classified documents in his possession, efforts to overturn Georgia election results, his role in fomenting the January 6, 2021 uprising, and the business practices of the Trump Organization.