(New York) A grand jury in a New York court criminally indicted Donald Trump in a 2016 case of buying the silence of a porn actress, an unprecedented historical fact for a former American president, who denounced Thursday a “political persecution”.
The former tenant of the White House, who dreams of winning it back in 2024, should be very officially charged by Manhattan prosecutor Alvin Bragg, dependent on New York justice, for the payment of US $ 130,000 to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels.
The Manhattan prosecutor’s office announced Thursday evening that it had contacted a lawyer for Donald Trump to organize his “surrender” before the New York courts and thus officially notify him of his indictment.
“We contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney tonight to coordinate his surrender to Manhattan District Attorney (Alvin Bragg) for an arraignment hearing in a New York Supreme Court,” a brief statement said. spokesperson for the Manhattan prosecutor’s office, after a grand jury voted to indict the former president of the United States.
The indictment remains “under seal” at this time and a hearing date is not known at this time, according to the statement.
In a statement, the 45th President of the United States (2017-2021) derided “political persecution and interference in the presidential election” of November 2024.
He again denounced a “witch hunt” that “will turn against (Joe) Biden”, the Democratic president elected in November 2020 and whom Mr. Trump has accused for more than two years of “stealing” the victory.
Just before him, one of his sons, Eric Trump, blasted on Twitter “an opportunistic act targeting a political opponent in the middle of an election campaign”.
The indictment is “contrary to the values of America”, for his part denounced his Republican rival Ron DeSantis, criticizing a “instrumentalization of the judicial system”.
The governor of Florida, who is flirting with a candidacy in 2024, assured that his state, in which Donald Trump resides, would not respond favorably “to a request for extradition” from the former president.
For Stormy Daniels’ attorney, real name Stephanie Clifford, there’s “no cause for celebration.”
“The hard and conscientious work of grand jurors (panel of citizens with investigative powers who work in concert with prosecutors and vote on indictments, editor’s note) must be respected”, wrote on Twitter Clark Brewster. “Now let truth and justice prevail. No one is above the law.”
What purpose ? For her to keep quiet about a supposed extramarital affair 10 years earlier in 2006.
According to New York State Criminal Procedure, Prosecutor Bragg is expected to abide by the vote of indictment by the grand jury, the proceedings of which are confidential.
In the coming days, once formally charged, former President Trump is expected to “visit” the Manhattan court to be served with a judge for his indictment, be briefly placed “under arrest”, photographed and his fingerprints taken.
He will then have to plead guilty or not guilty.
The key man in the case is called Michael Cohen: former lawyer and now enemy of Mr. Trump, he had paid Stormy Daniels. He testified before the grand jury, and the actress also cooperated with justice.
After having held America in suspense for ten days, this criminal indictment of Donald Trump still seemed this Thursday not to occur before the end of April.
The press was buzzing with rumors in early March of a possible indictment of the Republican billionaire.
He had pulled off a political stunt on March 18, claiming without evidence on his Truth Social network that he would be “arrested” and appear in New York court three days later to be charged.
But nothing had happened.
And the country waited ten days for this indictment, a historic fact against a former American president.
All the press in New York and Washington still affirmed with one voice on Wednesday evening, citing sources familiar with the matter, that justice should not rule before April 24.
Since March 20, the grand jury in New York had only met twice and no further meetings were scheduled.
For his part, Donald Trump, who denies “any crime” and any connection with Stormy Daniels, had estimated Sunday and Monday that the investigation was “dead”, a “swindle” and “election interference” orchestrated by “thugs” before 2024.
Accused by Mr. Trump of being an “animal” and a “racist” and by Republicans of having a “political motive”, Attorney Bragg, an elected African-American Democrat, replied that the billionaire had “created a media false expectation” on his indictment and denounced “interference” in the investigation.
Donald Trump became the first president in history to be indicted on Thursday, in the case of buying the silence of a porn actress in 2016.
Here is a point on the other disputes with the justice of the one who seeks a second term in 2024.
A parliamentary committee, dissolved by the new Republican majority, investigated the role of the Republican in the attack of his supporters on the seat of Congress on January 6, 2021, when elected officials certified the victory of his rival Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential.
In high-profile hearings, this Democratic-majority panel said the former president fired up his supporters before the coup and “failed his duty as commander-in-chief” during the assault.
In its final report, the commission said Donald Trump should never be able to hold new public office after inciting his supporters to insurrection.
Its members also recommended that criminal proceedings be launched against him by the federal justice system, in particular for calling for insurrection.
This is the case likely to lead to the most serious charges.
A special prosecutor, Jack Smith, is also looking into the role of the former president in the attempts to overturn the results of the presidential election of 2020. At the end of his investigation, he could recommend whether or not to indict him.
But the last word will go to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
A Georgia state prosecutor has been investigating since 2021 “attempts to influence the electoral operations” of this southern state, won by a short head by Joe Biden in 2020.
In a phone call, the recording of which has been made public, Donald Trump had asked a senior local official, Brad Raffensperger, to “find” nearly 12,000 ballots in his name.
Fani Willis, a Fulton County District Attorney which includes Atlanta, appointed a grand jury to determine if there was enough evidence to indict the real estate mogul. She managed to collect testimonies from her relatives, in particular from her ex-personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
This grand jury recommended indictments against several people without revealing whether the former president was among them.
Leaving the White House, Donald Trump took entire boxes of documents. However, a 1978 law obliges all American presidents to transmit all of their emails, letters and other working documents to the National Archives.
In January 2022, he returned 15 cards. After examination, the federal police estimated that he probably kept others in his luxurious Mar-a-Lago residence.
FBI agents then conducted a spectacular search there on August 8 on a warrant for “withholding classified documents” and “obstructing a federal investigation,” and seized about 30 more boxes.
An intense legal battle then opened to determine the nature of the documents seized (classified? personal? declassified?) which slowed down the procedure but, here again, a federal indictment remains possible.
Special Prosecutor Jack Smith is also investigating the case.
In January, the Trump Organization was fined in New York up to US$1.6 million for financial and tax fraud, a criminal first for the group, which is awaiting an even larger civil lawsuit in autumn.
At the head of the justice of the State of New York, Letitia James, an elected Democrat, has indeed filed a complaint against Donald Trump, his children and the Trump Organization.
She accuses them of “deliberately” manipulating the valuations of the group’s assets — which includes golf clubs, luxury hotels and other properties — to obtain better loans from banks or reduce its taxes.
She is seeking US$250 million in damages on behalf of the state, as well as bans from running companies for the ex-president and those close to him.