A Manhattan grand jury voted Thursday to indict former president Donald Trump for alleged hush money payments in the lead-up to the 2016 election, per a report from The New York Times.
The Times reported one of Trump’s lawyers said the former president would turn himself in on Tuesday for arraignment.
Trump said in a statement the indictment is “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history.”
Although the charges won’t ban Trump from running for president in 2024, this will mark the first time in history a former president of the United States of America is formally charged with a crime.
Details of the sealed indictment are not known but are expected to be read publicly when Trump surrenders to New York authorities. The Times said it anticipates the indictment to be announced publicly in coming days.
A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg released a statement through Twitter Thursday that said they had contacted Trump’s attorneys to “coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal.” Further information will come once the arraignment date is set, the statement said.
Trump published a statement on Truth Social shortly after reports on the grant jury vote were published. He condemned the charges as illegitimate but did not provide any more details on what the charges entailed.
“Even before I was sworn in as your President of the United States, the Radical Left Democrats - the enemy of the hard-working men and women of this Country - have been engaged in a Witch-Hunt to destroy the Make America Great Again movement,” Trump said.
He continued by accusing Bragg of “ignoring the murders and burglaries” in New York City and instead “doing Joe Biden’s dirty work.”
Trump vowed earlier this month to keep running for president despite an indictment. His statement Thursday ends with the same conclusion: “Our movement, and our Party - united and strong- will first defeat Alvin Bragg, and then we will defeat Joe Biden.”
The grand jury met for weeks, its deliberations shrouded in secrecy as it contemplated potential charges against Trump related to hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels by Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing despite Cohen reportedly testifying that Trump directed him to make the payments. Trump has also denied having an affair with Daniels.
But Cohen’s former attorney, Robert Costello, said he testified to the grand jury that Cohen is a “totally unreliable” witness, according to NBC New York.
Previously, federal prosecutors in New York in 2019 and the Federal Election Commission in 2021 decided not to pursue charges against Trump regarding the payments to Daniels, according to Fox News.
Unlike a criminal trial jury which needs unanimity to convict, a grand jury only needs a majority of members to recommend pressing charges. It is not known what the vote total was. A grand jury also only needs to believe there is “probable cause” to believe Trump committed a crime, while a trial jury will need to remove any reasonable doubt before voting for conviction.
When will Trump be arrested?
Bragg’s office is expected to negotiate surrender terms with Trump’s attorneys before he shows up in court to be booked and arraigned. It is expected Trump will surrender in the coming days or weeks.
Booking arraignment consists of posing for a mug shot, taking finger prints and appearing in court before a judge. It is unclear how the Secret Service will take part throughout the process.
With Trump standing before a judge, the grand jury’s indictment will then be unsealed by district prosecutors and read publicly to the former president. He will then be asked if he pleads guilty or not guilty.
The judge will then set a trial date and Trump will most likely be able to return to his home in Florida.
The prospect of Trump handcuffed and walked into a police station in front of the media is possible, but will depend on the terms of surrender negotiated by his attorneys.
A virtual arraignment for non-violent, white collar crimes has been used in the past, but sources told Fox News that Bragg is opposed to it in this case. This will require Trump to surrender in person at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City.
Potential for Protests
Trump predicted he would be indicted last week and called for his supporters to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK.”
New York City and Washington, D.C. law enforcement set up barricades last week in anticipation of protests. The commanding officer of the New York Police Department told his uniformed police divisions to be prepared for mobilization at any time, according to local press reports.
The U.S. Capitol Police in D.C. have also set up barricades around the Capitol and made preparations in case of any civil unrest.
Although Trump asked supporters to protest, Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other GOP members have said there is no need.
McCarthy tweeted his condemnation of the indictment Thursday and said he would hold Bragg accountable for an “abuse of power.”
Alvin Bragg has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election.— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) March 30, 2023
As he routinely frees violent criminals to terrorize the public, he weaponized our sacred system of justice against President Donald Trump.
The American people will not…
In the tweet, McCarthy pledged to investigate Bragg.
“The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account,” he said.