Donald Trump Indicted In Stormy Daniels Hush-Money Case; Ex-President Expected to Surrender Tuesday

UPDATED with latest: A New York grand jury today indicted Donald Trump on charges related to hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels during his 2016 campaign. It’s a development that the former president has seized upon to rally his supporters against prosecutors.

“This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement. “Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”

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The New York Times reported, “Trump is expected to turn himself in on Tuesday for arraignment on the indictment in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, according to one of his lawyers, Susan R. Necheles.” CNN confirmed that timing.

Broadcast and cable networks broke in for special reports, starting around 5:40 PM ET, with some positioning cameras on Trump’s private jet, anticipating the former president will soon be trekking to New York from Florida.

Trump, the twice-impeached, one-term commander-in-chief who rose to national fame as the longtime host of NBC’s reality hit The Apprentice, is the first former U.S. president to face a criminal charge and arrest. He had been dodging legal jeopardy for decades, long before he came down the Trump Tower escalator in June 2015 to announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination.

The indictment also will likely have an impact on the 2024 presidential race, as Trump has attacked Bragg’s pending action as politically motivated. In a lengthy statement, Trump called the indictment “political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history.”

“The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to ‘Get Trump,’ but now they’ve done the unthinkable — indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant election interference.”

Trump already has urged supporters to protest the indictment, and last weekend warned of “potential death and destruction” while posting a picture of himself holding a baseball bat next to a headshot of Bragg. That has raised concerns that the former president’s words will lead to some of his supporters carrying out acts of violence.

The former president’s most prominent competition for the Republican nomination next year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also weighed in, calling the indictment “un-American,” and “the weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda.”

The Florida governor also wrote that “Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue.”

DeSantis last week needed Trump over his pending indictment, telling reporters, “I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair.” He also said that he had “no interest” in taking part in a “manufactured circus.” His comments drew an angry reaction from Trump allies.

The Florida governor, a Harvard Law graduate, also is likely aware of Article IV, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which reads, “A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.”

In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer tonight, Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence, said: “I think the indictment of a former U.S. President on a campaign finance issue is an outrage” and called the indictment “one more example of a two-tiered justice system.”

Read an overview of the case from the Manhattan DA’s office from April 2022 below.

The charges stem from a $130,000 hush money payment that Trump’s then-attorney Michael Cohen made to Daniels just weeks before the 2016 election. Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels, which she alleges took place in 2006.

Trump was expected to be accused of reimbursing Cohen for the payment and then falsifying business records — a way to evade election law. Cohen, who went to prison after pleading guilty to an array of charges, including those related to the payments, has testified before a grand jury. But federal prosecutors also examined the payment and did not press charges.

“I believe that Donald, right now, is petrified,” Cohen said in an MSNBC interview today. “This is one of his biggest fears.”

Daniels’ attorney, Clark Brewster, released a statement in which he said, “The indictment of Donald Trump is no cause for joy. The hard work and conscientiousness of the grand jurors must be respected. Now let truth and justice prevail. No one is above the law.”

The news of the indictment follows hours of testimony earlier this week by David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer. A past confidant to Trump, Pecker was instrumental to the “catch and kill” method used to quell stories unfavorable to Trump. The ex-publisher’s return to court on Monday likely was a tipping point in the investigation, according to sources.

Pecker was previously granted immunity by federal prosecutors in their investigation.

The case may be only the first that is being waged against Trump. Wall Street Journal and CNN are reporting that Manhattan prosecutors also are looking into a different hush-money scheme that predates the 2016 campaign involving Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who said the National Enquirer tried to buy her story about an alleged affair with Trump in a “catch and kill” ploy to keep the story from coming out. The National Enquirer’s parent company A360 Media LLC agreed in 2021 to pay $187,500 as part of a settlement with the Federal Election Commission.

Also, prosecutors in Fulton County, GA, are weighing charges for Trump’s role in trying to overturn the 2020 election results in that state. Special Counsel Jack Smith also has been investigating Trump and whether he faces criminal liability for his role in the siege of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Smith also is looking into Trump’s handling of classified information that was found at Mar-a-Lago last summer.

Earlier this month, when Trump wrote on Truth Social, his social media platform, that he expected to be arrested, many media outlets scrambled on the expectation that an indictment was imminent. Trump’s predicted time of an arrest — March 21 — came and went, but it had the effect of having some of his allies rally to his side.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy backed Trump up, vowing to launch investigations of whether federal funds were involved in the prosecution. After the indictment, McCarthy wrote on Twitter that “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.”

Other Republicans were more cautious. Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, a potential 2024 candidate, said in a statement that it is “a dark day for America when a former President is indicted on criminal charges. While the grand jury found credible facts to support the charges, it is important that the presumption of innocence follows Mr. Trump.” He said that it was “essential that the decision on America’s next President be made at the ballot box and not in the court system. Donald Trump should not be the next President, but that should be decided by the voters.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that Trump “is subject to the same laws as every American. He will be able to avail himself of the legal system and a jury, not politics, to determine his fate according to the facts and the law. There should be no outside political influence, intimidation or interference in the case. I encourage both Mr. Trump’s critics and supporters to let the process proceed peacefully and according to the law.”

Here is an overview of the case that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office published a year ago:

In recent weeks, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has been repeatedly asked whether our investigation concerning former President Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization, and its leadership is continuing.

It is.

There have also been questions about the timing of the grand jury. As anyone who has worked on criminal cases in New York knows, New York County has grand juries sitting all the time.

There is no magic at all to any previously reported dates.

The team working on this investigation is comprised of dedicated, experienced career prosecutors. They are going through documents, interviewing witnesses, and exploring evidence not previously explored. In the long and proud tradition of white-collar prosecutions at the Manhattan D.A.’s Office, we are investigating thoroughly and following the facts without fear or favor.

The team is led by Susan Hoffinger, Chief of the Investigation Division. Susan has decades of experience as an Assistant District Attorney and a defense attorney, including New York State grand jury and trial experience, which are crucial for this investigation.

High-profile, complex investigations have been trademarks of my professional career.

As a state prosecutor and a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, I successfully brought cases involving money laundering, witness tampering, mortgage fraud, official misconduct, and bribery. And, I went wherever the facts took me, prosecuting two mayors, a city council member, an FBI agent, a former Senate Majority Leader, a District Attorney, and business executives.

Indeed, litigation involving the former president himself is not foreign to me. As the Chief Deputy at the New York State Attorney General’s Office, I oversaw the successful litigation against the former president, his family, and the Trump Foundation.

These experiences shape my approach and the investigative steps that the team is hard at work on. Prosecutors fulfilling their duties cannot and do not bring only cases that are “slam dunks.” To the contrary, every case must be brought for the right reason – namely that justice demands it. That’s what I’ve done throughout my career, regardless of how easy or tough a case might be.

I understand the public desire to know more about our investigative steps. But, the law requires secrecy during an investigation. It is a felony in New York for a prosecutor to disclose grand jury matters. And for good reason.

Doing so can create problems for cases and investigations, the individuals involved, and the criminal justice system. It can affect witness testimony or even lead to witness tampering. Unauthorized public disclosures also potentially can affect a defendant’s right to a fair trial.

While the law constrains me from commenting further at this time, I pledge that the Office will publicly state the conclusion of our investigation – whether we conclude our work without bringing charges, or move forward with an indictment.

In the meantime, we will not be discussing our investigative steps. Nor will we be discussing grand jury matters.

In short, as we have previously said, the investigation continues.

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