Updated Mar 30, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Trump indicted by Manhattan grand jury

Former President Donald Trump speaking in National Harbor, Maryland, in March 2023.

Former President Trump speaking in National Harbor, Maryland, in March. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A grand jury in New York indicted former President Trump on Thursday on charges related to a 2016 illegal hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels who alleged they had an affair, the Manhattan district attorney's office confirmed.

Why it matters: Trump, who's running for president in 2024 and facing multiple criminal probes, is the first president in U.S. history — sitting or former — to face criminal charges. The indictment is sure to ripple through his latest presidential campaign.

  • The charges come more than four years after Michael Cohen, the lawyer who handled the payment for Trump, was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison. He has been a witness against the former president.
  • The prospect of a Trump indictment was raised in early March after the district attorney's office invited Trump to testify before a grand jury.

State of play: "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 Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement.

  • "Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected."
  • A New York Police Department spokesperson told Axios that every member of the NYPD will report in full uniform Friday as a "precautionary measure" in response to Trump’s indictment.

What they're saying: Trump in a statement Thursday claimed the indictment was an act of "Political Persecution" and accused Democrats of "weaponizing our justice system to punish a political opponent, who just so happens to be a President of the United States and by far the leading Republican candidate for President."

Meanwhile, an attorney for Daniels tweeted Thursday evening that the indictment is "no cause for joy."

  • "The hard work and conscientiousness of the grand jurors must be respected," Clark Brewster said. "Now let truth and justice prevail. No one is above the law."
  • Trump's attorney did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment and the White House declined to comment.

Worth noting: The Trump campaign later sent fundraising emails asking for donations to help defend the MAGA movement "from the never-ending witch hunts."

The big picture: Trump, who frequently casts himself as a victim of overzealous investigators, the media and others, has repeatedly blasted the probe on Truth Social.

  • While Trump publicly predicted earlier this month that he would be arrested, upending news cycles and provoking reactions across his party, the grand jury investigating him did not conclude on that timeline.
  • Trump also called for protests, which prompted law enforcement to prepare for large-scale demonstrations that did not materialize.

Background: After his conviction, Cohen alleged that Trump had ordered him to pay Daniels $130,000 in hush money just before the 2016 election and later reimbursed him for it through the Trump Organization as legal expenses.

  • Trump has denied the affair. His legal team claimed he's "the victim of extortion" from Daniels and called Bragg's efforts to have him indicted "insane."
  • Federal prosecutors did not pursue charges in the case, but Bragg's office chose to do so — a controversial decision that made Bragg the focus of Republican accusations that the prosecution was politically partisan.

Of note: Capitol Hill allies of Trump came to his defense after the indictment news broke.

Zoom out: Trump also faces a federal investigation over his efforts to interfere with the 2020 election results and his handling of classified materials.

  • In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' office is investigating whether Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results there violated state law.

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Editor's note: This is a breaking news story. Please check back for new details.

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