Former President Trump has been Indicted.

For the first time in American history, a former US president is facing criminal charges. Former President Donald Trump was indicted by a grand jury for roughly 30 charges relating to business fraud and falsifying records, and on April 4th he was arrested and taken to court to face the charges. During the arraignment, Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges. While the case is still in progress, Trump is not halted from campaigning for the 2024 elections. 

The whole scandal started before the 2016 presidential elections with Michael Cohen–Trump’s lawyer from 2006 to 2018–paying off the adult film actress, Stormy Daniels, to keep quiet about an alleged affair between her and Trump. The payment was around $130,000 in total. Trump and his company then repaid Cohen in installments and logged those payments as legal fees.

In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to making the payment to Daniels before the 2016 elections and stated that it was through Trump’s direction that the payments were made. As time passed, the investigation of the hush-money died out in 2019, and the New York DA Office began their investigation of Trump’s business dealings–later charging the Trump Organization with tax fraud. So, the hush money case was left closed.

When New York County DA Alvin Bragg took office, he slowed the Trump Organization investigation and brought back the hush-money cases. Since Trump is no longer President, he would not be protected by the Justice Department’s policy which prevented Trump’s indictment. There was debate within the DA Office discussing the pros and cons of reopening the case. While the case is believed to have sufficient evidence for Trump’s indictment, some of the doubt lied in the relevance of the indictment and the difficulty that will be met against Trump in court. Bragg continued the Trump Organization indictment, which resulted in Allen Weisselberg receiving a sentence of five months in jail, and the Trump Organization receiving a fine of $1.6 million. 

With the reopened hush-money case, the thirty indictments Trump is receiving are based on each payment involving Cohen that was logged as a legal expense. Bragg is aiming to argue these falsified records were made to cover up other crimes Trump has committed. This changes the charges from misdemeanors to felonies. 

Following his arrest, Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges. Later that same day, Trump flew to Florida and held an event with his supporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort, despite warnings from Judge Juan Merchan against commenting on the arraignment. He stated how he plans to fight against the charges and his Presidential Campaign in 2024, 

The full indictment is now open to the public and it can be read here. The next in-person hearing is set to be held in December 2024. Along with the indictment, a thirteen-page statement has been released and adds to the list of Trump’s charges. The statement makes the argument that Trump has allegedly committed crimes in order to get elected during the 2016 elections, “From August 2015 to December 2017, the Defendant orchestrated a scheme with others to influence the 2016 presidential election by identifying and purchasing negative information about him to suppress its publication and benefit the Defendant’s electoral prospects,” quoted from the statement.

Recent evidence has surfaced that may leave Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation of the writer and journalist E. Jean Carroll. In 2019, Carroll first came out about her assault during the MeToo movement and the Harvey Weinstein revelations, and then attempted to sue. Trump would later respond to her accusations by calling them a “complete con job,” as well as “a hoax and a lie.”  In 2023, Carroll took Trump to court once more for a lawsuit, entailing not only Trump’s assault, but his defamation of Carroll as well. The jury decided the assault as sexual abuse rather than rape, and found that Trump had defamed Carroll. Trump was then ordered to pay Carroll $2 million in damages for sexual abuse, and $3 million in damages for defamation. 

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