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According to sources familiar with the situation, a Manhattan grand jury has voted to indict Donald Trump for his part in paying hush money to a porn star on the eve of the 2016 election, beginning off a process in which the former president would likely be obliged to return to New York to face the charges.
According to the sources, the grand jury returned Mr. Trump’s indictment following a vote on Thursday, making him the first former president to face criminal charges. The indictment, requested by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office, is not public.
Trump is also facing legal consequences for his election tampering and incitement of the January 6 attack on Congress; his attempts to overturn the 2020 Georgia election result; his retention of classified records; his business dealings; and a defamation suit stemming from an allegation of rape by writer E Jean Carroll, which Trump denies.
Daniels claims to have had an affair with Trump in 2006. Trump denies the affair, but he has confessed ordering his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, to pay Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her quiet. Cohen reportedly arranged for $150,000 to be paid to Karen McDougal, a Playboy model who claimed to have had an affair with Trump.
David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper that buried the story, made the payment.
Trump has admitted to reimbursing Cohen with funds accounted for as legal expenditures by the Trump Organization.
According to legal experts, any prospective trial is still at least a year away, creating the possibility that the former US president might face a jury in a Manhattan courthouse during or even after the 2024 presidential campaign, as he pursues a comeback to the White House, Reuters reported.
According to data from the state’s division of criminal justice services, the average criminal case in Manhattan took more than 900 days to progress from indictment to trial verdict in the first three quarters of 2022 – and Trump’s case is far from ordinary.
Any trial may be delayed until after Election Day in November 2024, however putting a president-elect or president on trial for state crimes would be unprecedented in legal history. He would not be able to pardon himself of state charges if elected.
When challenged with legal difficulties in his early real estate career, as a television personality, and subsequently in politics, the famously litigious Trump has used aggressive counter-attacks and delay tactics.
Trump has accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, an elected Democrat, of pursuing him for political advantage and may try to have the charges dropped on that basis.
Trump will very certainly seek other paths as well, some of which may offer difficult legal concerns that may take months to settle.
Falsifying company documents, which legal specialists believe is the most likely charge, is usually a misdemeanor.
Prosecutors must establish that Trump altered documents to conceal a second offense in order to raise that accusation to a felony. According to the New York Times, prosecutors might argue that the payment itself broke state campaign finance law since it was virtually an illegal hidden gift to his campaign.
Nevertheless, utilizing state election law in this fashion – particularly in a case involving a federal, rather than a state, candidate – is an unproven legal theory, according to legal experts, and Trump’s attorneys would undoubtedly dispute it.
Trump may possibly argue that the statute of limitations – in this case, five years – might have already ran out. The statue of limitations in New York can be extended if the defendant has been out of state, but Trump may claim that acting as president of the United States should not apply.
“There’s a whole host of possibilities,” said David Shapiro, a former FBI agent and prosecutor who now teaches at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice: “He’s loud, he’s brash, so proving that he had specific intent to fraud, one is almost left with the idea that, ‘well, if he has that specific intent of fraud, he has it all of the time, because that’s his personality,’
Is this a sign that prosecutors have run out of time? Trump believes so. He claims in social media posts that the statute of limitations “long ago expired,” calling the subject “old news.”
Yet, this is not necessarily how the law operates. When a possible defendant is continually outside the state, the clock on the statute of limitations in New York might stop. Trump visited New York only a few times during his four-year administration and currently resides primarily in Florida and New Jersey.
Reuters also reported that “according to a Bragg spokesperson, prosecutors and Trump’s legal team are negotiating a surrender date, when Trump would have to travel from his Florida home to the district attorney’s office in New York to be fingerprinted and photographed.” (…) “Trump would then make an initial appearance in court, where he would be formally charged. He would likely be allowed to head home afterward, experts said.”
Several personalities, politicians and political commentators have stated that the case is a political stunt against Donald Trump and that it is an example of the justice system being ‘weaponized’ by the Democratic Party in order to intimidate or incarcerate political opponents.
Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis was among the first people who responded with these claims after the indictment news broke:
The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head. It is un-American. The Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney has consistently bent the law to downgrade felonies and to excuse criminal misconduct. Yet, now he is stretching the law to target a political opponent. Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda. DeSantis Twitter statement’s said.
Senator Ted Cruz also made a statement via Twitter calling the indictment an ‘absolute outrage’ and a ‘tragedy’:
On the other hand, other politicians like former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, made statements in favor of the Grand Jury ruling:
Twitter fact-checked the Pelosi Tweet by stating the following:
“Ms. Pelosi mistakenly says that Trump can prove his innocence at trial. Law in the US assumes the innocence of a defendant and the prosecution must prove guilt for a conviction.”
A presumption of innocence states that every defendant in a criminal trial is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. As a result, if a person is to be convicted, the prosecutor must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual committed the crime. To do so, proof of each element of a crime must be presented. But, a presumption of innocence does not guarantee that a person will be free until their trial is over. A person can be detained in certain circumstances.
This story is developing.
Independent Writer. Marketing and communications strategist for politicians, artists, public figures & corporate brands for more than 10 years. Contact: @alejandrosbasso (Twitter)
Escritor independiente. Consultor en marketing y comunicaciones de políticos, artistas, figuras públicas y marcas por más de 10 años. Contacto: @alejandrosbasso (Twitter)