Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks outside a polling station during midterm election in Palm Beach, Florida, November 8, 2022.
Ricardo Arduengo | Reuters
A New York grand jury voted Thursday to indict former President Donald Trump in connection with a $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, his lawyer told CNBC.
Trump is the first former president to be charged with a crime.
The historic indictment stems from the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into how the Trump Organization recorded a reimbursement to Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen after Cohen paid Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in 2006.
Trump was filming his TV show, “Celebrity Apprentice,” at the time of that purported tryst, and was married to his current wife, Melania Trump, who had given birth to their son, Barron, a few months earlier.
The Trump Organization in business records described the reimbursement to Cohen as a legal expense.
Falsifying business records is normally a misdemeanor under New York law, but can be elevated to a felony if the misstatement was done to cover up another crime.
Trump denies having sex with Daniels or committing wrongdoing of any kind.
Joseph Tacopina, Trump’s criminal defense lawyer, confirmed to CNBC that Trump had been indicted after several media outlets reported the development. Tacopina had no immediate comment on the criminal case being lodged.
The indictment, which will be prosecuted by the DA’s Alvin Bragg’s office, is the first in what could end up being several criminal cases against Trump, the leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Trump is also under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice in two separate criminal cases.
Cohen in a statement to NBC News said, “For the first time in our Country’s history, a President (current or former) of the United States has been indicted. I take no pride in issuing this statement and wish to also remind everyone of the presumption of innocence; as provided by the due process clause.”
“However, I do take solace in validating the adage that no one is above the law; not even a former President,” Cohen said. “Today’s indictment is not the end of this chapter; but rather, just the beginning. Now that the charges have been filed, it is better for the case to let the indictment speak for itself. The two things I wish to say at this time is that accountability matters and I stand by my testimony and the evidence I have provided to” the Manhattan district attorney, he said.
One is related to his efforts to overturn the Electoral College victory of President Joe Biden in the 2020 election as he made false claims of widespread ballot fraud in the popular vote that year.
The other probe is focused on Trump’s removal of government records from the White House, and whether he obstructed justice by keeping them at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, for more than a year as government officials sought their return.
A state prosecutor in Atlanta is also separately investigating Trump and a number of his allies over their attempt to get Georgia officials to reverse his loss to Biden in the state in 2020.
The Manhattan prosecution of Trump comes more than four years after Cohen, who loyally served him for years before that, turned on Trump and began cooperating with federal, state and local law enforcement officials in New York.
Michael Cohen, former attorney for former U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives to the New York Courthouse in New York City, U.S., March 13, 2023.
Eduardo Munoz | Reuters
Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal criminal charges that included campaign finance violations for both the Daniels payment and a separate payment he facilitated to Playboy model Karen McDougal to buy her silence over an affair she said she started with Trump in 2006.
The Federal Election Commission in 2021 fined the publisher of The National Enquirer $187,500 for “knowingly and willfully” violating campaign law by paying McDougal a $150,000 “catch and kill” fee to buy her story and bury it ahead of the 2016 election.
Cohen said the payments were designed to protect Trump’s chances in that election, when he faced Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump escaped punishment from the FEC.
Cohen met 20 times with investigators from the DA’s office before testifying over two days last week before the grand jury in Manhattan Criminal Court. That panel began meeting in late January and heard testimony from multiple witnesses before Cohen.
Trump and a number of Republican elected officials have accused Manhattan DA Bragg, who is a Democrat, of pursuing the investigation to harm him politically.
Bragg’s focus on the payment to Daniels in recent months came as a surprise, as it was considered by many to be the weakest possible criminal case against Trump in a probe that began four years ago under Bragg’s predecessor as DA, Cyrus Vance Jr.
Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels speaks US Federal Court with her lawyer Michael Avenatti (R) on April 16, 2018, in Lower Manhattan, New York.
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez | AFP | Getty Images
In February 2022, two top prosecutors who were working on the investigation quit after Bragg indicated he was suspending the probe.
At the time, that investigation was focused on Cohen’s allegations that Trump and the Trump Organization reported different values for the same real estate properties to lower their tax burden and insurance costs and to maximize the value of loans against them, among other things.
One of the prosecutors, Mark Pomerantz, in his resignation letter said Trump was “guilty of numerous felony violations,” which related to the “preparation and use of his annual Statements of Financial Condition,” which “were false.”
Attorney General Letitia James in September filed a civil lawsuit seeking at least $250 million in penalties from Trump, his company, and three of his adult children, alleging widespread fraud in financial statements.
James’ lawsuit, which is headed to trial later this year, seeks to permanently bar Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump from serving as an officer of a company in New York and permanently prohibit the Trump companies named in the suit from doing business in New York state.
In December, a Manhattan jury convicted two subsidiaries of the Trump Organization of multiple crimes related to a scheme that since 2005 had sought to avoid paying taxes on executive compensation in the form of perks including free apartments and luxury cars to then-chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg.
Trump was not personally charged in that case, but he “knew exactly what was going on,” a prosecutor said in closing arguments in Manhattan Supreme Court.
The Trump subsidiaries convicted in the case were fined $1.6 million for the scheme in January at sentencing.
Weisselberg, who had pleaded guilty in that case in August, was sentenced in January to five months in jail. He is scheduled to be released from the notorious Rikers Island jail on April 19, which factors in time off his sentence for good behavior.
This is breaking news. Check back for updates.
Chia Network Faces IPO Setback, Lays Off 26 Workers – Bear Market Woes Continue?
Uncover the Secrets of the UAE’s Food Scene with a Foodie Tour Operator
Jack Carr’s take on ‘Black Hawk Down’ on October 3, 1993: ‘Bond shared by brothers in blood’
Magnolia Tree Earth Center starts much-needed repairs after decade-long preservation effort
Ferrari Hypercar Spotted With Microphones Next To Exhaust Tips
I’m a Long-Distance Hiker With Ulcerative Colitis—Here’s How I Manage On and Off the Trail
This Back and Biceps Workout With Dumbbells Can Help Improve Your Posture
The Benefits of Lactic Acid for Skin Go Beyond Exfoliation
33 Tasty Pumpkin Recipes That Are Perfect for Fall
APL TechLoom Dream Review: A Comfy Shoe for Stylish Walkers and Casual Runners
China’s economic ills infecting the rest of Asia
Divining Xi’s behavior: It’s all about power
What has the Nobel Prize in Physics ever done for you?
This Website Exposes the Truth About Soaring Food Prices
The ‘Green’ Future of Furniture Is a Sofa Stuffed With Seaweed
News17 hours ago
Liverpool bomber detonated homemade device in taxi outside women’s hospital after his asylum claim was rejected, police probe finds
Finance17 hours ago
Crypto Trading Platform GSR Receives In-Principal MPI License in Singapore
News21 hours ago
Lexington native among winners of Nobel in medicine for work that enabled creation of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19
Tech19 hours ago
Apple and devs plan software fixes for iPhone 15 Pro overheating issues
News22 hours ago
Furious NFL fans slam Taylor Swift’s football ‘take-over’ and slam broadcaster for too many mentions and cutaways of the singer saying the coverage is ‘destroying football’
News22 hours ago
Climate target walk-backs highlight ‘overzealous’ policy pledges, OPEC chief says
News8 hours ago
Rep. Matt Gaetz triggers vote to oust Kevin McCarthy from speaker’s office
Investing22 hours ago
Evercore ISI upgrades this electric vehicle maker, says it can become the next Tesla