Donald Trump is the first former president to face criminal charges. What we know

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Former President Donald Trump on Thursday became the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges after a New York grand jury voted to indict him.

Though the charges were not made public, the grand jury has been investigating hush money payments to two women who claimed to have had affairs with him. Details of those payments were made public only after he was elected as president in 2016.

Trump, who has said an indictment would not deter him from running for president, has already denied the charges, calling his accusers liars and threatening in a social media post that there would be "potential death & destruction" if charges were filed against him in the case.

What happens next? Here's what we know:

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Make America Great Again Rally in Waco, Texas, Saturday, March 25, 2023.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Make America Great Again Rally in Waco, Texas, Saturday, March 25, 2023.

Has Trump been indicted?

A grand jury has voted to indict Trump.

The former president is under investigation for money payments to two women who claimed to have had sex with him, including a $130,000 payment made just before the 2016 election to silence adult film star Stormy Daniels for a past affair. Federal investigators ended their own inquiry into the payment in 2019.

What is an indictment?

An indictment is not the same as an arrest; it's a formal charge of a crime, while an arrest is when a person is taken into custody. An arrest of Trump is not likely, said former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti.

Mug shot? Perp walk? Will Trump go to jail?

Glenn Kirschner, a former prosecutor, told USA TODAY that authorities often negotiate the surrender of a high-profile defendant like Trump to avoid the spectacle of a “perp walk” in which the person is paraded before the media as they enter the courthouse or police station.

“There will be no reason to cuff him and walk him into police headquarters to be booked," Kirschner said. “There will still be a mug shot, fingerprints and lots of paperwork filled out as part of the booking process. So we will see a mug shot of a former president of the United States, but I do not think we're going to see a perp walk.”

Will the indictment cause pro-Trump protests?

Kirschner said authorities should take seriously Trump’s call to action, saying it could result in the kind of widespread rioting that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“This is a play right out of Trump’s playbook,” Kirschner said. “We started with ‘Stand back, stand by.’ We then moved to ‘Come to D.C. on January 6 , it’ll be wild.’ Now we have ‘Come to Manhattan for my arraignment. Protest, take our country back.’"

But Kirschner said he doubts Trump’s effort will have the same result this time.

“On January 6, people were aggrieved because they had been told their vote was stolen. So they took it personally. Here. I don't think there's that kind of personal motivator the way there was on January 6.”

Donald Trump's statement

Trump's campaign called the vote to indict "political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history."

What does this mean for the Secret Service?

With Trump facing possible criminal charges, W. Ralph Basham, a former Secret Service director, said the prospect raises unprecedented questions for the Secret Service and the boundaries of the agency's obligation to provide lifetime protection for the former president.

Basham, who served during the George H.W. Bush administration, said he was unaware of any provision that would allow the agency to drop its protection obligation, even if a protectee was sentenced to a prison term. "We are in uncharted territory here," Basham said. "I'm sure the attorneys are scrambling to find answers to those questions."

"I'm not aware of anything ... that would preclude them (Secret Service agents) from escorting a former president to a detention center in the event of a conviction and prison sentence," Basham said, adding that the agency would then have to consider "establishing a presence" at a detention center for the duration of any sentence. "I just don't know," he said. "The lawyers are going to have to figure this out."

Who is Stormy Daniels?

Stormy Daniels, an adult film star whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is central to the case Manhattan prosecutors are building against the former president.

Daniels alleges that in 2006 she had consensual sex with Trump, months after Melania Trump gave birth to the couple's son, Barron. Trump has denied the affair.

In October 2016, Trump’s then-attorney and personal fixer, Michael Cohen, made a wire transfer of $130,000 to Daniels' attorney after she said she was willing to go on record about the alleged affair with Trump.

Who is Michael Cohen?

Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and a convicted felon, is another key figure in the Manhattan case. He has testified at least 20 times on the former president’s alleged illegalities.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to concealing personal income from the IRS and "causing $280,000 in payments to be made to silence two women who otherwise planned to speak publicly about their alleged affairs with a presidential candidate, thereby intending to influence the 2016 presidential election," according to Justice Department documents.

Cohen told USA TODAY Trump's indictment is only the beginning of a new chapter in the former president's legal saga.

"Now that the charges have been filed, it is better for the case to let the indictment speak for itself," Cohen said in a written statement. "The two things I wish to say at this time is that accountability matters and I stand by my testimony and the evidence I have provided."

Who is Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg?

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is the first prosecutor to ever charge a former president.

This isn’t Bragg’s first time dealing with Trump. His office made headlines last December for convicting two of Trump's companies on charges related to a criminal tax fraud scheme.

After the convictions, Bragg alluded to Trump’s status as a former president, saying the verdict “underscores that here in Manhattan we have one standard of justice for all.”

Dig deeper: 

Contributing: Kevin Johnson

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump indictment: What we know about NY hush money case