Former President Trump Facing Historic Legal Challenge, Could Face First Presidential Indictment

Former President Donald Trump is facing a historic legal challenge as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is reportedly close to bringing criminal charges against him for his alleged role in the hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Trump has denied any wrongdoing, calling the investigation a “witch hunt.”

Trump has been invited to testify before a grand jury next week, in what could be a prelude to criminal charges.[0] It would be an unprecedented event if the district attorney's office brings charges: Donald Trump would be the first former President of the United States to ever be indicted and the first major presidential contender to be under indictment while running for office.

The investigation focuses on a $130,000 payment made to Daniels in late October 2016, days before the 2016 presidential election, to silence her from going public about an alleged affair with Trump a decade earlier.[1] President Trump has denied having an affair.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, pleaded guilty in 2018 to making the illegal payment to Daniels for the “principal purpose of influencing” the 2016 presidential election, saying he did so on Trump's orders.[2] It is anticipated that Cohen will testify soon, as he has already had at least 20 meetings with investigators.[3]

Special counsel Jack Smith is leading a federal probe into Trump’s role in attempting to overturn the election and the violent aftermath at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and also into whether he broke the law by hoarding documents bearing classified markings at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.[4]

Kellyanne Conway, Trump's White House counselor and former campaign manager, and Hope Hicks, Trump's former director of strategic communications, have both been questioned by prosecutors.[5]

Prosecutors are looking into whether Trump's activities may have been a criminal offense since his organization may have “falsely accounted” repayments to Cohen and done so for an unlawful political contribution, taking into account that Daniels' quietness assisted Trump's run.[6] It’s uncertain legal terrain, as the Times notes, which could make for a challenging case.[6] More challenging still could be the unprecedented process of trying the former president, who has seemingly threatened political violence if prosecuted.[6]

Should Bragg bring charges against Trump, it would be the initial indictment among the various criminal probes facing the ex-president.

0. “Trump has been invited to testify in front of a grand jury in New York” NPR, 10 Mar. 2023,

1. “NY prosecutors invite Trump to testify in hush money investigation; decision on charges could come soon” CNN, 10 Mar. 2023,

2. “Turning Trump's Hush Payment to Stormy Daniels Into a Felony Would Reinforce ‘Witch Hunt' Complaint” Reason, 10 Mar. 2023,

3. “Trump invited to testify before grand jury in Manhattan DA probe, a sign charges could be coming soon” New York Daily News, 10 Mar. 2023,

4. “Donald Trump Likely to Be Criminally Charged in New York Soon: Report” VICE, 10 Mar. 2023,

5. “Trump invited to testify before New York grand jury: NYT” Business Insider, 10 Mar. 2023,

6. “Donald Trump Might Soon Be Vying for Presidency While Facing Criminal Charges” Vanity Fair, 10 Mar. 2023,

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