Donald Trump is expected to surrender next week after impeachment

The exact nature of the charges was unclear Friday because the indictment remained sealed, but they stem from payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence allegations of an extramarital sexual encounter.

Prosecutors said they were working to coordinate Trump’s handover, which could happen as early as next week.

They did not say whether they intended to seek prison time in the event of a conviction, a development that would not prevent Trump from seeking and assuming the presidency.

The indictment, the first against a former US president, places a local district attorney’s office at the heart of a national presidential race and ushers in criminal proceedings in a city the former president called home for decades.

Coming at a time of deep political divisions, the charges are likely to reinforce, rather than reshape, the competing perspectives of those who see accountability as long overdue and those who, like Trump, feel the Republican is being targeted for political purposes by a Democratic prosecutor.

Trump, who has denied wrongdoing and has repeatedly attacked the investigation, called the allegation “political persecution” and predicted it would hurt Democrats in 2024.

In a statement confirming the charges, defense attorneys Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina said Trump “committed no wrongdoing,” adding: “We will vigorously fight this political accusation in court.”

A spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney’s office confirmed the allegation, saying prosecutors had contacted Trump’s defense team to arrange a turnaround.

Trump was asked to surrender on Friday, but his lawyers said the Secret Service needed more time while it made security preparations, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. The people, who were unable to publicly discuss the security details, said Trump is expected to surrender early next week.

District Attorney Alvin Bragg left his office Thursday night without comment.

The case centers on well-documented allegations from a period in 2016 when Trump’s celebrity past collided with his political ambitions.

Trump's legal troubles Key people
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (Seth Wenig/AP, File)

Prosecutors pored over months of money paid to porn actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, whom he feared would go public with claims they had extramarital sexual encounters with him.

The timing of the indictment appeared to surprise Trump campaign officials, following news reports that criminal charges would likely be weeks away. The former president was at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida property, on Thursday and filmed an interview with a conservative commentator earlier that day.

For a man whose presidency was defined by one erased rule after another, the prosecution sets up another never-before-seen spectacle: a former president who is fingerprinted and mugged, then faces prosecution.

For security reasons, it is expected that your reservation will be carefully choreographed to avoid crowding inside or outside the courthouse.

The impeachment also means that Trump will have to simultaneously fight for his freedom and his political future, while also fending off potentially more dangerous legal threats, including investigations into attempts by him and his allies to undo the 2020 presidential election. as well as hoarding. of hundreds of classified documents.

Indeed, until recently New York was seen as an unlikely candidate to be the first place to prosecute Trump, who continues to face lengthy investigations in Atlanta and Washington that could also result in charges.

Unlike those investigations, the Manhattan case concerns allegations against Trump that occurred before he became president and are not related to his highly publicized efforts to quash the election.

The impeachment comes as Trump seeks to reassert control of the Republican Party and avoid a host of former allies who may threaten his bid for the presidential nomination.

The main expected rival in the race, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, called the allegation “un-American” in a statement Thursday night that pointedly did not mention Trump’s name.

In filing the charges, Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, is taking up an unusual case that was investigated by two previous sets of prosecutors, both of whom refused to take the politically explosive step of seeking to impeach Trump.

Trump's legal troubles
Michael Cohen, former lawyer and mediator for Donald Trump (Mary Altaffer/AP)

The case may also hinge in part on the testimony of a key witness, former Trump lawyer and mediator Michael Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from the hush money payments, including false declaration.

The fate of the investigation seemed uncertain until news broke in early March that Bragg had invited Trump to testify before a grand jury, a sign that prosecutors were close to filing charges.

Trump’s lawyers declined the invitation, but a lawyer closely allied with the former president testified briefly in an effort to undermine Cohen’s credibility.

Trump himself anticipated that he would be impeached soon, issuing a statement earlier this month in which he predicted an impending arrest and called for protests.

He did not repeat that call in a new statement Thursday, but the New York Police Department told its 36,000 officers to be fully mobilized and ready to respond to any potential protest or riot.

Late in the 2016 presidential campaign, Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about what she says was a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier, after they met at a celebrity golf tournament.

Cohen was then reimbursed by Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, which also rewarded the lawyer with bonuses and additional payments recorded internally as legal expenses. Over several months, Cohen said, the company paid him $420,000.

In early 2016, Cohen also arranged for the publisher of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer to pay McDougal $150,000 to silence his story of a Trump affair in a journalistically dubious practice known as “catch and kill.”

The payments to the women were intended to buy secrets, but backfired almost immediately when details of the arrangements were leaked to the media.

trump charge
Trump has long criticized the Manhattan investigation as “the biggest witch hunt in history” (Evan Vucci/AP)

Federal prosecutors in New York finally charged Cohen in 2018 with violating federal campaign finance laws, arguing that the payments amounted to impermissible aid to Trump’s presidential campaign.

Cohen pleaded guilty to those charges and unrelated tax evasion charges and served time in federal prison.

Trump was implicated in the court documents for having knowledge of the arrangements, referred to obliquely in the charging documents as “Individual 1,” but US prosecutors at the time declined to file charges against him.

The Justice Department has a longstanding policy against impeaching a sitting president in federal court.

Bragg’s predecessor as district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr, took over the investigation in 2019. While the investigation initially focused on hush money payments, Vance’s prosecutors moved on to other matters, including an examination of tax strategies and Trump’s business dealings. .

Vance ultimately accused the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer of tax fraud related to fringe benefits paid to some of the company’s top executives.

The secret money affair became known in the prosecutor’s office as the “zombie case,” and prosecutors reviewed it regularly but never chose to press charges.

Bragg saw it differently. After the Trump Organization was convicted on tax fraud charges in December, he overhauled the well-worn case, hired white-collar prosecutor Matthew Colangelo to oversee the investigation and convened a new grand jury.

Cohen became a key witness, meeting with prosecutors nearly two dozen times, turning over emails, recordings and other evidence, and testifying before the grand jury.

Trump has long criticized the Manhattan investigation as “the biggest witch hunt in history.” He also lashed out at Bragg, calling the prosecutor, who is black, a racist against white people.


Leave a Reply