A grand jury in New York has indicted former US President Donald Trump over hush money payments made to a porn star, Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 presidential election.
Gatekeepers News reports that although the details of the case against him have not yet been released, the grand jury has voted to indict him after investigating a $130,000 payout to Daniels in an attempt to buy her silence over an alleged affair.
76-year-old Trump denies wrongdoing. He is the first serving or former US president to face a criminal charge.
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who has been pursuing the investigation, confirmed that it had contacted Trump’s attorney to “co-ordinate his surrender” on unspecified charges.
Two sources familiar with the matter told CBS News that the ex-president, who lives in Florida, is expected to fly to New York on Monday and be arraigned in court on Tuesday
The charges in the indictment will be read to him at the hearing, which is set to last about 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, the United States Secret Service which is tasked with protecting serving and former US presidents will be in charge of security for the court appearance.
In 2016, adult film star Stormy Daniels contacted media outlets offering to sell her account of what she said was an adulterous affair she had with Donald Trump in 2006 – the year after he married his current wife, Melania.
The former President’s team got wind of this, and his lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to Daniels to keep quiet. This is not illegal.
However, a record for the reimbursement indicated it was for legal fees. Prosecutors say this amounts to Trump falsifying business records, which is a misdemeanour – a criminal offence – in New York.
Prosecutors could also potentially allege that this breaks election law because his attempt to hide his payments to Daniels were motivated by not wanting voters to know he had an affair with her.
Nevertheless, Trump in a statement lashed out at the Manhattan district attorney, called the prosecutor a “disgrace”, and accused him of “doing Joe Biden’s dirty work”.
Trump said, “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 has repeatedly slammed the investigation in his hometown of New York as a political “witch hunt” led by his opponents.
Mr Bragg, who is a registered Democrat, has denied pursuing a political vendetta against Mr Trump. “We evaluate cases in our jurisdiction based on the facts, the law, and the evidence,” he tweeted earlier this month.
Trump’s lawyer, Susan Necheles, in a statement said, “He did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in court.”
Following the indictment, Daniels thanked her supporters. “I have so many messages coming in that I can’t respond… also don’t want to spill my champagne,” she tweeted.
Trump is also being investigated in several other cases, including probes into his role in the US Capitol riot of January 2021, his efforts to overturn his loss in the state of Georgia in the 2020 election, and his handling of classified documents after leaving office.