Donald trump becomes the first former U S president to face criminal charges with the leader indicted by a Manchester grand jury. The shocking news comes even as trump is jolting his bid to retake the White House next year.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office has been investigating Trump in connection with his alleged role in a hush money payment scheme and cover-up involving adult film star Stormy Daniels that dates to the 2016 presidential election. Trump is expected to turn himself in and face arraignment early next week.
HUSH MONEY PAYMENT
Trump has been indicted in a case related to the payment of $130,000 to Daniels during his 2016 election campaign. Reports said the money was given by the former President’s then lawyer Michael Cohen in exchange for her silence about a sexual encounter she allegedly had with Trump. Cohen funded the payment through a home equity line of credit, and was reimbursed later by Trump through his company, the Trump Organization.
Denying initially of any knowledge of the transaction between Cohen and Daniels, Trump later admitted to reimbursing Cohen for the payment. He then called the transaction a “simple private transaction”. This happened in 2018. The same year Cohen pleaded guilty to charges including federal campaign finance crimes involving the hush money. Cohen testified that Trump and his company had falsely classified the purpose of the payments by labelling them as legal expenses.
The federal prosecutors concluded that the money given to Daniels was “an improper donation” to Trump’s campaign.
The specific charges against Trump are still unknown. However, the major one would be that he falsified business records that showed the reimbursement to Cohen as a legal expense. Under New York law, disguising such payments in corporate records is illegal.
After indicted, Trump said, “This is Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history. From the time, I came down the golden escalator at Trump Tower, and even before I was sworn in as your President of the United States, the Radical Left Democrats – the enemy of the hard-working men and women of this Country – have been engaged in a Witch-Hunt to destroy the Make America Great Again movement. You remember it just like I do: Russia, Russia, Russia; the Mueller Hoax; Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine; Impeachment Hoax 1; Impeachment Hoax 2; the illegal and unconstitutional Mar-a-Lago raid; and now this.
“The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to ‘Get Trump,’ but now they’ve done the unthinkable – indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant Election Interference.
“Never before in our Nation’s history has this been done. The Democrats have cheated countless times over the decades, including spying on my campaign, but weaponizing our justice system to punish a political opponent, who just so happens to be a President of the United States and by far the leading Republican candidate for President, has never, happened before. Ever.
“Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who was hand-picked and funded by George Soros, is a disgrace. Rather than stopping the unprecedented crime wave taking over New York City, he’s doing Joe Biden’s dirty work, ignoring the murders and burglaries and assaults he should be focused on. This is how Bragg spends his time!
“I believe this Witch-Hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden. The American people realize exactly what the Radical Left Democrats are doing here. Everyone can see it. So our Movement, and our Party – united and strong – will first defeat Alvin Bragg, and then we will defeat Joe Biden, and we are going to throw every last one of these Crooked Democrats out of office so we can MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
He also posted on his social media platform ‘Truth Social’ that the indictment “is an attack on our country the likes of which has never been seen before. It is likewise a continuing attack on our once free and fair elections”.
Meanwhile, Daniels also tweeted. Clark Brewster, Daniels’ attorney tweeted, “The indictment of Donald Trump is no cause for joy. The hard work and conscientiousness of the grand jurors must be respected. Now let truth and justice prevail. No one is above the law. #teamstormy”.
THE GRAND JURY
A grand jury is set up by a prosecutor to determine whether there is enough evidence to pursue a prosecution to determine whether probable cause exists to believe a crime has been committed. The Jury has investigative powers. It can issue subpoenas to compel people to testify or hand over documentation relating to the case.
The Grand Jury is in the Bill of Rights. The Grand Jury comprises members of the public. The US courts handbook says they “are drawn at random from lists of registered voters, lists of actual voters, or other sources as necessary”. The jury members can range from as low as six to as high as 23. However, a federal grand jury usually comprises 16 to 23 people and hence is known as “grand”. Petit jury is small.
Unlike the trial jury, the grand jury does not determine whether a person is guilty of a crime. The jury sits in secret and the person under investigation is not allowed to be present.
Though the majority opinion varies, the jury does not have to be unanimous to recommend an indictment – or criminal charge. It can take a two-thirds, or three-quarters verdict.