Former President Donald Trump Indicted on Criminal Charges for Hush Money Payments to Stormy Daniels
Former President Donald Trump has become the first US president to ever face criminal charges, after being indicted by a Manhattan grand jury. The specific charges remain sealed at this point, but it is believed that the indictment relates to hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s lawyers could argue that the prosecutors waited too long to bring the charges, as the matter dates back to 2016 and 2017, and New York’s statute of limitations for most felonies is five years. However, there are some exceptions to that deadline, including if the person being charged was living out of state.
The indictment raises a slew of questions about how the criminal case will unfold, and Trump is planning to surrender to the Manhattan district attorney's office next week, probably on Tuesday. While he is allowed to run for president while under indictment, or even if he is convicted of a crime, it remains to be seen whether he will campaign while under indictment.
The indictment is a historic moment in American history, and presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told NPR on Friday that there is no comparable moment in the country's history. While there have been instances of presidents facing legal trouble, such as President Ulysses S. Grant being arrested in 1872 for speeding through Washington on a horse-drawn carriage, Trump's indictment is unprecedented.
Meanwhile, the speculation continues over who will run for president in 2024. A list of potential Democratic candidates has been compiled, with the top 10 ranked, but it remains to be seen who will ultimately run for the presidency.
The Stormy Daniels scandal has also resurfaced in light of Trump’s indictment, with reports suggesting that he could be facing up to “30 counts related to business fraud.” The alleged affair between the former president and Daniels took place in 2006, but it was only in 2016 that she contacted media outlets offering to sell her account of the affair. The National Enquirer under a previous “catch and kill” agreement with the Trump campaign reportedly declined to run the story, and the Trump campaign was made aware that Daniels was coming forward. Days before the 2016 election, Michael Cohen—Trump’s longtime fixer—gave the porn actress $130,000 in hush money through a shell company.
Trump initially denied any knowledge of the transaction between Cohen and Daniels, but later admitted to reimbursing Cohen for the payment. Cohen admitted to committing federal campaign finance offenses related to the hush money and testified that Trump and his organization had mislabeled the payments as legal expenses. Federal prosecutors, who pressed criminal charges against Cohen in 2018 over payments made to Daniels, have revealed that Trump's company increased Cohen's reimbursement to cover tax expenses.
The indictment of a former US president is a historic moment in American history, and raises a lot of questions about what happens next. While Trump is allowed to run for president while under indictment, it remains to be seen whether he will choose to do so. The legal system has been plunged into murky waters, and the case against Trump is likely to be a long and complex one.
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