Historic indictment against Donald Trump for paying hush money
Republican Donald Trump has become the first ex-president in US history to be accused of a hush-money scandal – a historic step with potentially huge political implications. The responsible grand jury in New York voted to indict Trump for hush money paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election, it was announced on Thursday. Trump, who denounced “political persecution and electoral interference,” could face justice next week.
Initially, numerous US media reported on the charges against the 76-year-old right-wing populist, who wants to retake the White House in the 2024 presidential election. The prosecutor then upheld the charges. Manhattan Chief Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said it contacted Trump’s attorney to coordinate how the ex-president could present himself for an indictment hearing.
The public prosecutor’s office did not provide any information on the content of the indictment. The document is still “sealed”.
Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, told NBC News that the ex-president is expected to turn himself in early next week and appear in Bragg’s office. The news channel CNN spoke of Tuesday. The Republican would then – at least according to the normal procedure – be treated by the identification service. Then a judge would read out the indictment in his presence.
The case is about a hush money payment of $ 130,000 (around 120,000 euros) to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. The porn star, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims to have had an affair with Trump in 2006, which he rejects.
The payment itself is not illegal. But the ex-president could be held responsible for forging business documents or illegal campaign financing. Trump denies any unlawful conduct.
After the indictment became known, Trump described himself as the victim of a “witch hunt” by “the left-wing Democrats”. Bragg does the “dirty work” for President Joe Biden, who in all likelihood also wants to run again after 2024. “Impeaching a completely innocent person is an act of blatant electoral interference,” said the former head of state.
Party friends of the ex-president also sharply criticized the indictment. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted that Bragg had “irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our presidential election.”
Florida Republican governor and potential presidential candidate Ron DeSantis tweeted that the legal system had been used as a weapon to advance a “political agenda.” “It’s un-American.”
Well-known Democratic Party MP Adam Schiff said an indictment against a former president was “unique” in the country’s history. “But so does the unlawful conduct for which Trump has been accused.” A lawyer for Stormy Daniels emphasized: “No one is above the law.”
Trump himself said on March 18 that he should be arrested three days later and called on his supporters to protest. Initially, however, neither charges nor arrests were made.
The ex-president later warned that impeachment could lead to “death and destruction” and be “catastrophic” for the US. Critics then accused the right-wing populist of inciting radical supporters to violent protests with his statements. Even memories of the Capitol storming on January 6, 2021 were awakened.
The charges against Trump are politically highly explosive. The ex-president announced last fall that he wanted to run again in the presidential election in November next year. In surveys of candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump, who is still extremely popular with the right-wing base, is far ahead.
However, the ex-president is not only in the sights of the judiciary in the Stormy Daniels affair. Investigations are underway in southern Georgia into possible illegal interference with the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
A US special investigator is also examining Trump’s responsibility for the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021 and the taking of numerous secret documents from the White House to Trump’s private estate Mar-a-Lago in the state of Florida after the Republican’s term ended.
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