Trump Facing at Least 1 Felony Charge 04/01 08:51
Former President Donald Trump is facing multiple charges of falsifying
business records, including at least one felony offense, in the indictment
handed down by a Manhattan grand jury, two people familiar with the matter told
The Associated Press on Friday.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Former President Donald Trump is facing multiple charges of
falsifying business records, including at least one felony offense, in the
indictment handed down by a Manhattan grand jury, two people familiar with the
matter told The Associated Press on Friday.
He will be formally arrested and arraigned Tuesday in his hush money case,
setting the scene for the historic, shocking moment when a former president is
forced to stand before a judge to hear the criminal charges against him.
The indictment remained sealed and the specific charges were not immediately
known, but details were confirmed by people who spoke on condition of anonymity
to discuss information that isn't yet public.
The streets outside the courthouse where the arraignment will unfold were
calm Friday compared with earlier in the week. There were no large-scale
demonstrations for or against Trump, though tourists stopped to take selfies
and throngs of reporters and police officers remained assembled.
When Trump turns himself in, he'll be booked mostly like anyone else facing
charges, mug shot, fingerprinting and all. But he isn't expected to be put in
handcuffs; he'll have Secret Service protection and will almost certainly be
released that same day.
In the meantime, Trump's legal team prepared his defense while the
prosecutor's office defended the grand jury investigation that propelled the
matter toward trial. Congressional Republicans, as well as Trump himself,
contend the whole matter is politically motivated.
"We urge you to refrain from these inflammatory accusations, withdraw your
demand for information, and let the criminal justice process proceed without
unlawful political interference," Leslie Dubeck, general counsel in the office
of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, wrote in a letter sent Friday to
three Republican House committee chairs that was obtained by The Associated
The case is plunging the U.S. into uncharted legal waters, with Trump the
first former president ever to face an indictment. And the political
implications could be titanic ahead of next year's presidential election. Trump
is in the midst of running for president a third time and has said the case
against him could hurt that effort -- though his campaign is already furiously
raising money by citing it.
The Trump campaign said it raised $4-plus million in the first 24 hours
after news of the indictment broke.
Top Republicans also have begun closing ranks around him. House Speaker
Kevin McCarthy has promised to use congressional oversight to probe Bragg.
Reps. James Comer, Jim Jordan and Bryan Steil, the committee chairs whom Bragg
addressed in his letter, have asked the district attorney's office for grand
jury testimony, documents and copies of any communications with the Justice
Trump's indictment came after a grand jury probe into hush money paid during
the 2016 presidential campaign to squelch allegations of an extramarital sexual
encounter. The indictment itself has remained sealed, as is standard in New
York before an arraignment.
The investigation dug into six-figure payments made to porn actor Stormy
Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both claim to have had sexual
encounters with the married Trump years before he got into politics. He denies
having sexual liaisons with either woman.
Trump also has denied any wrongdoing involving payments and has denounced
the investigation as a "scam," a "persecution," an injustice. He shouts in all
capital letters on his social media platform that the Democrats have "LIED,
CHEATED" and more to damage his 2024 presidential run.
Trump lawyer Joseph Tacopina said during TV interviews Friday he would "very
aggressively" challenge the legal validity of the Manhattan grand jury
indictment. Trump himself, on his social media platform, trained his ire on a
new target, complaining that the judge expected to handle the case, Juan Manuel
Merchan, "HATES ME."
The former president is expected to fly to New York on Monday and stay at
Trump Tower overnight ahead of his planned arraignment Tuesday, according to
two people familiar with his plans who spoke on condition of anonymity to
discuss Trump's travel.
Trump will be arraigned in the same Manhattan courtroom where his company
was tried and convicted of tax fraud in December and where disgraced movie
mogul Harvey Weinstein's rape trial took place. On Friday, officials from the
Secret Service and the NYPD toured the courthouse and met about security plans.
Court officers ultimately closed and secured access to the 15th floor, where
Merchan was continuing to preside over unrelated matters, until Trump's
Lawyers involved in the cases and some employees were permitted to stay, but
media were chased away by officers, who were standing sentry in front of a
bike-rack barricade set up in the hallway. Officers yelled at reporters who
ventured up, "This floor is closed," and ordered them to get back in the
elevator and leave.
"Officers have been cautioned to remain vigilant and maintain situational
awareness, both inside courthouses and while on perimeter patrols, as evidenced
by the incident on Tuesday afternoon outside of Manhattan Supreme Court," the
court said in a statement.
Since Trump's March 18 post claiming his arrest was imminent, authorities
have ratcheted up security, deploying additional police officers, lining the
streets around the courthouse with barricades and dispatching bomb-sniffing
dogs. They've had to respond to bomb and death threats, a suspicious powder
scare and a pro-Trump protester who was arrested Tuesday after witnesses say
she pulled a knife on passersby.
Since no former president had ever been charged with a crime, there's no
rulebook for booking the defendant. He will be fingerprinted and have a mug
shot taken, and investigators will complete arrest paperwork and check to see
if he has any outstanding criminal charges or warrants, according to a person
familiar who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive security operations.
All of that activity takes place away from the public. New York law
discourages the release of mug shots in most cases. Less clear is whether Trump
would seek to have the picture released himself, for political or other reasons.
Once the booking is complete, the former president would appear before a
judge for an afternoon arraignment.
Even for defendants who turn themselves in, answering criminal charges in
New York generally entails at least several hours of detention while being
fingerprinted, photographed, and going through other procedures.
As for the allegations, as Trump ran for president in 2016, his allies paid
two women to bury their accusations. The publisher of the supermarket tabloid
the National Enquirer paid McDougal $150,000 for rights to her story and sat on
it, in an arrangement brokered by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
After Cohen himself paid Daniels $130,000, Trump's company reimbursed him,
added bonuses and logged the payments as legal expenses.
Federal prosecutors argued -- in a 2018 criminal case against Cohen -- that
the payments equated to illegal aid to Trump's campaign. Cohen pleaded guilty
to campaign finance violation charges, but federal prosecutors didn't go after
Trump, who was then in the White House. However, some of their court filings
obliquely implicated him as someone who knew about the payment arrangements.
The New York indictment came as Trump contends with other investigations. In
Atlanta, prosecutors are considering whether he committed any crimes when
trying to get Georgia officials to overturn his narrow 2020 election loss there
to Joe Biden.
And, at the federal level, a Justice Department-appointed special counsel
also is investigating Trump's efforts to unravel the national election results.
Additionally, the special counsel is examining how and why Trump held onto a
cache of top secret government documents at his Florida club and residence,
Mar-a-Lago, and whether the ex-president or his representatives tried to
obstruct the probe into those documents.