Donald Trump: why he was sued and what we know so far in the case | USA | News

Donald Trump: Grand jury votes to indict former president

For the first time in history, a US president has been indicted after a grand jury voted to charge Donald Trump on Thursday. The ex-POTUS, 76, is accused of being involved in an illegal payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

Here’s what we know about the case so far.

Why was Trump indicted?

Daniels, 44, real name Stephanie Clifford, began reaching out to the media in 2016 ahead of the presidential election to sell her account of what she claimed was an adulterous affair she had with the businessman in 2006. This was a year after he married his current wife Melania.

Trump’s team found out, and his former attorney Michael Cohen eventually handed out a $130,000 payment to Daniels to keep his mouth shut. This in itself is not against the law.

But Cohen allegedly paid Daniels through a shell company before being reimbursed by Trump, whose company, the Trump Organization, reportedly recorded the fees as legal fees.

Since Trump’s records for the payment show it was for legal fees, rather than reimbursing his attorney for paying Daniels, prosecutors say it shows Trump falsified business records. This is a felony (a criminal offense) in New York.

Trump

Trump has been indicted (Image: AP)

Stormy Daniels

Trump was involved in a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels (Image: Getty)

Trump’s company reportedly “grossed up” Cohen’s refund for Daniels’ payment to cover tax payments, according to federal prosecutors who filed criminal charges against the lawyer in connection with the 2018 payments. Cohen received £291,000 ($ 360,000) plus £48,000 ($60,000) bonus, for a total of £339,000 ($420,000).

What has happened so far?

While Trump denies wrongdoing, Cohen pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance law in connection with the payments.

Federal prosecutors say the payments amounted to illegal, unreported aid to Trump’s campaign. But they declined to press charges against Trump himself.

A grand jury in Manhattan on Thursday decided to indict the ex-POTUS for the alleged crime. It came after weeks of investigating the case led by Manhattan District Attorney prosecutor Alvin Bragg.

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Trump supporters

Trump wants to become president in 2024 (Image: AP)

What could happen next?

What might happen after the grand jury vote isn’t quite on the table yet. The indictment has not yet been unsealed, meaning it is not entirely clear what charges will be brought against Trump.

To secure a conviction for a felony charge, prosecutors would have to prove that records had been falsified with intent to commit or conceal a second felony. It’s not clear what prosecutors can claim as the second crime.

Based on publicly available information, legal experts have noted that several elements of the case could put Trump in jeopardy as his accusers race for a guilty verdict.

For example, the cabinet is from 2016 and 2017 and is therefore more than five years old. New York’s statute of limitations for most crimes is five years, meaning Trump could argue that prosecutors waited too long to charge him.

Prosecutors may also have to prove that Trump knew the arrangement violated the law.

Trump could also argue that he reasonably assumed that Cohen, as a lawyer, was making the payments and paperwork in a lawful manner.

If arrested, the former president, who hopes to run again in the 2024 election, will be fingerprinted, photographed and handcuffed.

But Trump is also fighting to return to office in the next presidential election in 2024.

While it will be up to the state court judge assigned to Trump’s car to determine whether he can campaign while he faces charges, it’s unlikely prosecutors won’t want to detain him or restrict his travel in the US while the case is pending.

Bragg

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is leading the investigation into the hush money case (Image: AP)

Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen, former Trump attorney (Image: Getty)

There is also no law that would prevent him from campaigning while facing criminal charges, even if he were put behind bars. But if he were to win the election while being charged or convicted, it would complicate matters.

It is also expected to take months for a trial to begin, with legal and constitutional issues likely to drag things into next year and into the 2024 primary season.

What did Trump say?

Trump strongly denies having sex with Stormy Daniels and civil unrest is feared after the former president called on his supporters to rally when he falsely predicted his arrest, which he called a “witch hunt,” at 21 March would come.

In a furious diatribe on his Truth Social platform, Trump said, “What kind of person can sue another person, in this case a former president of the United States … who received more votes than any sitting president in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a crime, when everyone knows NO crime was committed, and also know that potential death and destruction in such a false accusation could be catastrophic for our country?

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