Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury – marking the first time in American history that a current or former president has faced criminal charges.
The indictment has been filed under seal and will be announced in the coming days. The charges are not publicly known at this time, one source told CNN.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office will reach out to Trump’s attorneys to discuss his surrender to face an arraignment.
CNN has reached out to Trump’s attorneys for comment.
The DA’s office has been investigating the former president in connection with his alleged role in a hush money payment scheme and cover-up involving adult film star Stormy Daniels that dates to the 2016 presidential election.
The decision is sure to send shockwaves across the country, pushing the American political system – which has never seen one of its ex-leaders confronted with criminal charges, let alone while running again for president – into uncharted waters.
The legal action against Trump jolts the 2024 presidential campaign into a new phase – where the former president has vowed to keep running in the face of criminal charges.
Trump has frequently called the various investigations surrounding him a “witch hunt,” attempting to sway public opinion on them by casting himself as a victim of what he’s claimed are political probes led by Democratic prosecutors. As the indictment reportedly neared, Trump urged his supporters to protest his arrest, echoing his calls to action following the 2020 election as he tried to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden.
Trump has long avoided legal consequences in his personal, professional and political lives. He has settled a number of private civil lawsuits through the years and paid his way out of disputes concerning the Trump Organization, his namesake company. As president, he was twice impeached by the Democratic-led House, but avoided conviction by the Senate.
In December, the Trump Organization was convicted on multiple charges of tax fraud, though Trump himself was not charged in that case.
Trump’s Republican allies – as well as his 2024 GOP rivals – have condemned the Manhattan district attorney’s office over the looming indictment, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has vowed to launch an investigation into the matter.
Bragg’s office had signaled as recently as early March that they were close to bringing charges against Trump after they invited the ex-president to testify before the grand jury probing the hush money scheme. Potential defendants in New York are required by law to be notified and invited to appear before a grand jury weighing charges. But Trump ultimately declined to appear before the panel.
The long-running investigation first began under Bragg’s predecessor, Cy Vance, when Trump was in office. It relates to a $130,000 payment made by Trump’s then-personal attorney Michael Cohen to Daniels in late October 2016, days before the 2016 presidential election, to silence her from going public about an alleged affair with Trump a decade earlier. Trump has denied the affair.
At issue in the investigation is the payment made to Daniels and the Trump Organization’s reimbursement to Cohen.
According to court filings in Cohen’s own federal prosecution, Trump Organization executives authorized payments to him totaling $420,000 to cover his original $130,000 payment and tax liabilities and reward him with a bonus. The Trump Organization noted the reimbursements as a legal expense in its internal books. Trump has denied knowledge of the payment.
Lock him up!