Former President Donald Trump Indicted for Alleged Hush-Money Scheme
Donald Trump, the former President of the United States, has become the first former president in American history to be criminally indicted. Donald Trump has been indicted by a grand jury in Manhattan for his supposed involvement in organizing hush-money payments prior to the 2016 election. The indictment itself remains under seal, and the specific charges against Trump are unknown. The indictment shatters a long-held American political norm, as Richard Nixon, the president who arguably came the closest to being indicted after he was found to have covered up evidence related to the Watergate break-in, was preemptively pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford.
The indictment stems from charges related to paying hush money to a former porn star, Stormy Daniels, and sets up a complicated and explosive legal battle as Trump vies for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Trump is also facing two Justice Department probes into his conduct in the weeks prior to the January 6 riot and his handling of classified documents, as well as a probe by state prosecutors in Georgia into his attempts to reverse his 2020 election loss. At this time, Trump as well as his offspring are being sued by the New York Attorney General in a civil case claiming that they unlawfully exaggerated the worth of their possessions in order to obtain loans with more beneficial terms.
The outcome of several other investigations against Trump unrelated to the Daniels scheme remains uncertain. The former president is facing three additional and separate investigations into his handling of classified documents, allegations of election meddling in Georgia, and his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. The former president could face further legal complications as a result of all these cases.
Trump’s defense attorney, Joe Tacopina, said Thursday night that Trump is expected to be arraigned as early as Tuesday. The decision on whether to detain the former president or limit his domestic travel during the pending case will rest with the state-court judge assigned to Trump's case, however, it appears improbable that the prosecutors will pursue such actions. He can carry on his presidential campaign and face criminal charges without any legal obstacle, even if he is imprisoned.
Should Trump attain the presidency amidst charges or a conviction, the legal implications become increasingly unclear. The possibility of preventing an elected federal official from serving by a state court raises significant constitutional concerns. Should Trump's strategy of delaying the trial prove effective in extending it until 2025, and if he were to win the 2024 election, it is likely he will contend that the charges against him must be dismissed as unconstitutional, citing the Justice Department's 2000 directive that prohibits the indictment or prosecution of a sitting president.
In the upcoming months, the case will undoubtedly take center stage in American politics and trigger an unparalleled legal spectacle. The Manhattan District Attorney's office is conducting an investigation on Trump regarding a payment of $130,000 made by his former confidant Michael Cohen to Daniels during the last days of the 2016 presidential campaign. The payment was allegedly made to prevent Daniels from publicly disclosing her alleged affair with Trump, which Trump has consistently denied.
In response to the news of his indictment, Donald Trump called it “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history,” and accused Democrats of “weaponizing our justice system to punish a political opponent, who just so happens to be a President of the United States.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, said that “Mr. Every American, including Trump, is bound by the same laws. His fate will be determined by the legal system and a jury, based on the facts and the law, rather than politics, and he will have access to this process. The case should not be subject to any external political pressure, intimidation, or meddling. I urge both those who oppose and those who endorse Mr. Trump to allow the proceedings to unfold peacefully and in accordance with the law.
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1. “Trump's Indictment Is an Astonishing, Frightening First” The Atlantic, 30 Mar. 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/03/trump-indictment/673575/
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3. “Trump Indicted By Manhattan Grand Jury—Arraignment Expected Tuesday On Over 30 Charges, Reports Say” Forbes, 31 Mar. 2023, https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicholasreimann/2023/03/30/trump-indicted-by-manhattan-grand-jury-arraignment-expected-tuesday-on-over-30-charges-reports-say/
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7. “Donald Trump Was Just Indicted. Here's What to Know About the Charges and the Case” TIME, 10 Mar. 2023, https://time.com/6261993/donald-trump-indictment-updates/
8. “Trump becomes 1st current or former president to be indicted” ABC News, 30 Mar. 2023, https://abcnews.go.com/US/trump-1st-current-former-president-indicted-sources/story?id=97860580
9. “Donald Trump Issues Furious Response to Indictment in Stormy Daniels Hush Money Case” The Daily Beast, 30 Mar. 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/donald-trump-issues-furious-response-to-indictment-in-stormy-daniels-hush-money-case
10. “Dems react to Trump indictment: Schiff calls it ‘sobering,' Waters knew ‘Stormy Daniels would get him'” Fox News, 30 Mar. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/dems-react-schiff-news-sobering-waters-knew-stormy-daniels-would-get-him
11. “Former President Donald Trump indicted by Manhattan grand jury” NBC News, 30 Mar. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/manhattan-grand-jury-voted-whether-indict-trump-rcna73588