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Trump Indicted In NY After Hush-Money Probe

By Frank G. Runyeon and Rachel Scharf · 2023-03-30 17:26:12 -0400 ·

New York - A Manhattan grand jury has indicted former President Donald Trump on charges that have not yet been released to the public, the district attorney's office said Thursday, following an investigation into an alleged hush-money scheme ahead of the 2016 election.

As of Thursday evening, the indictment remained sealed and had not been processed. The details of the charges are not yet public.

"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," a spokesperson for DA Alvin Bragg's office said in a statement. "Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected."

Trump on Thursday issued a statement alleging a conspiracy of "Political Persecution and Election Interference" against him.

"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 said. "Never before in our Nation's history has this been done."

A Timeline of the Trump Investigation

Susan Necheles and Joe Tacopina, criminal defense attorneys for Trump, confirmed that the former president had been indicted. Tacopina said he was contacted by the district attorney's office but that he did not know the substance of the charges.

"President Trump has been indicted. He did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in court," the attorneys said in a statement.

Necheles told Law360 she expects Trump will surrender Tuesday.

A New York state grand jury has been hearing evidence about Trump's alleged role in an illegal hush money payment amid increasing signals that the first-ever indictment of a former U.S. president was looming.

Former attorney and longtime Trump fixer Michael Cohen told the grand jury that Trump directed him to pay adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep voters in the dark about their alleged affair just before Election Day in 2016, according to a source familiar with the testimony. Cohen paid the money and Trump secretly repaid him under the pretense of legal fees, including at least one check signed by Trump in the White House in 2017, Cohen previously told federal prosecutors.

Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, who previously told federal prosecutors he had an explicit agreement starting in 2015 to "catch and kill" any negative stories about Trump's relationships with women, also testified before the grand jury earlier this week.

While Trump was invited to testify, he declined and instead sent Robert J. Costello, a former attorney for Cohen, whose testimony sought to undermine the credibility of the prosecution's key witness.

Trump has denied wrongdoing in social media posts excoriating the investigation, calling Bragg an "animal" and "degenerate psychopath" and warning of "death & destruction" if he were to be charged.

There were clear signs that something unusual was happening in the courthouse late Thursday afternoon.

Clerks abruptly shut down the office where indictments are filed and processed in New York County Supreme Court, Criminal Term, ejecting reporters from the room. The lights were shut off even though several employees remained inside.

Prosecutors appeared to have entered the office through a back door.

Through the locked glass doors, two men in suits could be seen talking quietly in the dark behind the counter of the clerk's office. Three court officers then arrived and directed the press to leave the floor. One claimed there was nothing to see.

The apparent charges triggered statements from those involved in the case.

An attorney for Daniels said that "the indictment of Donald Trump is no cause for joy."

"The hard work and conscientiousness of the grand jurors must be respected," said Clark Brewster of Brewster & De Angelis PLLC. "Now let truth and justice prevail. No one is above the law."

Meanwhile, an attorney for Cohen praised his client's bravery in deciding to testify against his longtime boss.

"On July 2, 2018, Michael Cohen made the brave decision to speak truth to power and accept the consequences. And he has done so ever since," said Lanny Davis. "I am proud to have been his lawyer and his friend through this long journey on the path to justice and accountability. "

An attorney for Trump in civil litigation, Alina Habba of Habba Madaio & Associates LLP, denounced the indictment.

"A former president, a current candidate and my friend President Donald J. Trump is a victim of a corrupt and distorted version of the American justice system and history. He will be vindicated," Habba said in a statement.

The indictment will leave Trump fighting criminal charges in the midst of his third presidential campaign as he seeks an expected rematch with President Joe Biden in 2024. Trump also faces potential charges in Georgia for alleged interference in the 2020 election as well as federal investigations into his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and alleged mishandling of classified documents.

--Editing by Alanna Weissman.

Update: This story has been updated with additional information and comment from Trump, the district attorney's office, and others involved in the case.

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