Donald Trump (R), a man considered the most anti-LGBTQ+ president of all time, has been indicted by a New York grand jury. As such, he is the only president in U.S. history to face criminal charges, though it’s unclear when formal charges will be filed and when Trump might be arrested or turn himself in to legal authorities.
Though the charges have not yet been made public, the indictment is likely connected to Trump’s alleged orchestration of a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, an adult video performer with whom Trump reportedly had a sexual relationship in 2006. The payment occurred near the conclusion of the 2016 presidential race.
Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen previously testified that Trump told him to facilitate the $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels so she wouldn’t publicly discuss the alleged affair during Trump’s presidential campaign. Cohen established a shell company, Essential Consultants, and made the payment in October 2016.
The payment possibly violated campaign finance laws since Trump was then “a candidate for federal office.” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleged that the Trump Organization falsely recorded the payment as a legal expense rather than disclosing it as a campaign expense, which would’ve made it subject to legal campaign spending limits.
Trump could potentially face a misdemeanor charge for falsifying business records if he can be tied to the crime. It’s unclear what felony charges Trump might face in connection with the indictment. The indictment charges are currently under a seal, but they could be made public once Trump is arraigned in court.
“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. Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected,” a spokesperson for Bragg said in a Thursday statement.
Predictably, Trump called the indictment, “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history.” He has previously denied any sexual relationship with Daniels and said he had done “absolutely nothing wrong” in connection to the payment.
In a Thursday statement with anti-semitic dog undertones, Trump wrote, “Manhattan [District Attorney] Alvin Bragg, who was hand-picked and funded by [Jewish billionaire] George Soros, is a disgrace. Rather than stopping the unprecedented crime wave taking over New York City, he’s doing Joe Biden’s dirty work, ignoring the murders and burglaries and assaults he should be focused on. This is how Bragg spends his time!”
Right-wingers often invoke Soros as an antisemitic dog whistle implying that powerful and wealthy Jewish people have control over the world, including political leaders, financial businesses, and the media.
It is widely thought that Trump, who is a 2024 presidential candidate, will use the indictment to portray himself as a political martyr. He has already mentioned the indictment in a fundraising email to his followers, and other Republican congresspeople have defended Trump, accusing Bragg of prosecuting Trump purely for political purposes.
In a Truth Social post last week, Trump said that criminal charges against him would likely result in “death and destruction,” a comment that was widely interpreted as a threat and a command for his followers to commit violence on his behalf, much like they did during the January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol following Trump’s 2020 election loss to now-President Joe Biden.
Responding to Trump’s indictment, Noah Bookbinder, president of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, tweeted, “We know of literally dozens of credible allegations of crimes committed by Donald Trump as president or running for it, with no charges filed. Until now.”
“Donald Trump has spent his entire political career dodging accountability for his wanton disregard for the law. It is finally catching up to him,” Bookbinder continued. “The charges in New York are the first ever brought against him, but they will not be the last.”