Former U.S. President Donald Trump has been indicted by a New York grand jury on Thursday, marking the first criminal case against an ex-president in U.S. history. This landmark decision follows extensive investigations into Trump's personal, business, and political affairs.
The crux of the inquiry centered on the concealment of payments made to women on Trump's behalf. Since January, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's team has been presenting evidence and summoning witnesses before the grand jury.
Despite Trump's social media post last weekend suggesting his arrest was imminent, specifically on Tuesday, the investigation continued, ultimately culminating in the grand jury's decision to indict the former president.
As the indictment is now official, the 76-year-old Trump would only face arrest if he declines to turn himself in voluntarily.
Trump's legal representatives have indicated that he intends to follow standard procedures, which could entail his surrender to a New York Police Department precinct or directly to Bragg's office. The Associated Press has reported that, according to an anonymous source, Trump is expected to surrender to authorities sometime next week.
The New York grand jury has been scrutinizing Trump's involvement in a $130,000 payment made in 2016 to Baton Rouge born adult film actress Stormy Daniels to prevent her from publicly disclosing an alleged sexual encounter with Trump. The payment was made using the personal funds of Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, who later claimed reimbursement from the Trump Organization, in addition to receiving extra bonuses, amounting to $420,000.
Cohen is among the several former members of Trump's inner circle who have testified before the grand jury. Other known witnesses include Trump's ex-spokesperson Hope Hicks, his former political adviser Kellyanne Conway, and Stormy Daniels herself. Trump was also invited to testify—an invitation legal experts viewed as a sign of an impending indictment.
Bragg's office has been investigating whether Trump or his company violated any state laws in connection with the payment or the manner in which Cohen was compensated for his efforts to suppress the allegations.
The indictment arises as Trump is considering another presidential run in 2024 while simultaneously confronting numerous other legal challenges. Apart from the hush money case, Trump is also facing separate criminal investigations in Atlanta and Washington regarding his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. Moreover, a Justice Department special counsel has been presenting evidence to a grand jury examining Trump's possession of classified documents at his Florida estate.