(CNN) Former President Donald Trump Indictment by a New York grand jury It has plunged the nation into uncharted political, legal and historical waters, and raised many questions about how the criminal case will unfold.
Manhattan District Attorney’s Office He is investigating Trump He was allegedly involved in an undercover payment scheme involving adult film star Stormy Daniels leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
Although the indictment, filed under seal, has yet to be released, Trump and his allies are already torn by District Attorney Alvin Bragg and the grand jury’s verdict, “political harassment and election interference at the highest level in history.”
Here’s what we know Trump’s accusation So far.
Why the accusation?
Trump faces more than 30 counts of business fraud in the indictment, CNN reported. It is under seal.
The former president is expected to appear in Manhattan Criminal Court next Tuesday, but the timing of that appearance remains fluid.
The investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office began while Trump was still in the White House and into a $130,000 payment to Daniels by Trump’s then-personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in late October 2016, days before the presidential election. public about an alleged affair with Trump more than a decade ago. Trump has denied the matter.
What charges may be at play?
Daniels was paid, and the Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen, a target of the investigation.
According to court filings when Cohen faced federal criminal charges, Trump Organization executives authorized payments of his original $130,000 in back pay and tax liabilities, plus a total of $420,000 in bonuses. The company recorded the reimbursement as a legal expense in its internal books. Trump has denied any knowledge of the payments.
Hush payments are not illegal. Ahead of the indictment, prosecutors were weighing whether to charge Trump with falsifying the Trump Organization’s business records that reflected how payments were made to Cohen, who said he gave the money to Daniels. Falsifying business records is a misdemeanor in New York.
Prosecutors weighed whether to charge Trump with falsifying business records in the first degree for falsifying a record with the intent to commit another crime, or with aiding or abetting another crime. It is a Class E felony and carries a minimum sentence of one year and up to four years in prison. To prove the case, prosecutors must show Trump intended to commit a crime.
Donald J. People of New York State Against Trump
The judge overseeing the case against Trump signed an order Thursday granting Bragg’s request to make public the sealed grand jury indictment.
Case Name on Order: Donald J. New York State People Against Trump
Judge Juan Merchan wrote in the order that disclosure is “in the public interest and in the appropriate exercise of this court’s discretion,” according to the document.
How did Trump respond?
According to one person who spoke directly to Trump, he was caught off guard by the grand jury’s decision to indict him. As the former president prepared for impeachment last week, he began to believe news reports that a possible impeachment was weeks — or more — away.
The former president has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in the affair and continued his attacks on Bragg and other Democrats following news of the indictment.
“I believe this witch hunt will cause a huge backlash for Joe Biden,” the former president said in a statement Thursday. “The American people realize exactly what the far-left Democrats are doing here. Everyone can see that. So our movement and our party — united and strong — first we’re going to defeat Alvin Bragg, then we’re going to defeat Joe Biden, and so will we. These crooked Democrats. We’re going to throw everyone out of office so we can make America great again!”
Trump’s advisers and allies have expressed concern that the former president could be tried in Manhattan, pointing to the borough’s overwhelmingly Democratic-voting population for not getting a fair trial.
“There’s no way he’s going to get a fair jury,” one counsel said. “What they’re going to say — have you ever heard of Donald Trump? Have you been living under a rock?”
However, Trump’s attorneys are not currently considering a change of venue and do not plan to make many decisions until they see the indictment.
What’s next for Trump?
The former president was originally asked to surrender on Friday in New York, his lawyer said, but his side wanted more time. He is expected in court Tuesday.
As for the former president’s initial court appearance, it will be, in some ways, similar to other defendants, and in others, very different.
First appearances are usually public actions. If a defendant does not need to be arrested, arrangements are made with them or their attorneys to voluntarily surrender to law enforcement. Upon their first appearance in court, defendants are usually booked and fingerprinted. And if the first appearance is an investigation, a plea is expected to be entered.
Trump must go through the same process as any other defendant when charged against him. But Trump’s status as a former president now running for the White House again will undoubtedly inject additional security and procedural concerns into the next steps in his case.
Is this a unique situation?
Yes. This is the first time in US history that a current or former president has faced criminal charges.
That is what makes history. But Trump is now months into his third White House bid, and his criminal case is turning the 2024 presidential campaign into a new phase as the former president vows to continue running despite criminal charges.
What does this mean for him politically?
This is one of the many big questions here. So far, many congressional Republicans have rallied to Trump’s defense, attacking Bragg on Twitter and accusing the district attorney of a political witch hunt.
House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of the Republican caucus leaders who has called on Bragg to testify before Congress about the Trump investigation, tweeted.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz called the indictment “absolutely unprecedented” and “a devastating expansion in the weaponization of the judiciary.”
As part of the response to the impeachment, Trump and his team will release proxies to attack Democrats, the investigation and various media outlets in Prague as they work to shape the public narrative, according to sources close to Trump.
Can Trump run for president even if he is indicted?
This story has been updated with additional information.
CNN’s Kara Scannell, John Miller, Jeremy Herb, Kristen Holmes, Tierney Sneed, Z. Byron Wolf, Holmes Lybrand, Hannah Rabinowitz, Lauren del Valle, Paula Reid and Alayna Treene contributed to this report.
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