NEW YORK (AP) — Former President donald trump faces multiple counts of falsifying business records, including at least one felony, in the indictment handed down by a Manhattan grand jurytwo people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Friday.
He will be formally arrested and arraigned Tuesday at his silent money casesetting the stage for the historic and shocking moment when a former president is forced to appear before a judge to hear the criminal charges against him.
The indictment remained sealed and the specific charges were not immediately known, but the details were confirmed by people who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss information that is not yet public.
The streets outside the courthouse where the arraignment will take place were quiet Friday compared to earlier in the week. There were no large-scale demonstrations. For or against Trumpthough tourists stopped to take selfies and throngs of reporters and police remained gathered.
When Trump turns himself in, he’ll be secretive just like anyone else facing charges, mugshot, fingerprinting and all. But you are not expected to be put in handcuffs; he will have the protection of the Secret Service and will almost certainly be released that same day.
Meanwhile, Trump’s legal team prepared his defense while the prosecutor’s office defended the grand jury investigation that brought the matter to trial. Congressional republicansas well as Trump himself, argue that the whole affair is politically motivated.
“We urge you to refrain from these inflammatory accusations, withdraw your information demand, and allow the criminal justice process to continue without unlawful political interference,” wrote Leslie Dubeck, general counsel in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, in a letter sent Friday to three Republican House committee chairs obtained by The Associated Press.
The case is plunging the US into uncharted legal waters, and Trump is the first former president to face impeachment. And the political implications could be titanic before next year’s presidential election. Trump is in the midst of running for president for the third time and has said the case against him could hurt that effort, even though his campaign is already raking in money by citing him.
The Trump campaign said it raised more than $4 million in the first 24 hours after news of the impeachment broke.
Major Republicans have also begun to close ranks around him. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has promised to use congressional oversight to investigate Bragg. Representatives James Comer, Jim Jordan and Bryan Steil, the chairmen of the committees to whom Bragg addressed in his letter, asked the district attorney’s office for grand jury testimony, documents and copies of any communications with the Justice Department.
Trump’s indictment came after a grand jury investigated money paid during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence allegations of an extramarital sexual encounter. The indictment itself has remained sealed, as is customary in New York before an arraignment.
The investigation focused on six-figure payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both claim to have had sexual encounters with married Trump years before he got into politics. He denies having sex with either of the two women.
Trump has also denied any wrongdoing related to the payments and denounced the investigation as a “scam,” a “persecution,” an injustice. He yells in all caps on his social media platform that the Democrats have “LIED, CHEATED” and more to hurt his 2024 presidential bid.
Trump’s attorney, Joseph Tacopina, said during television interviews Friday that he would “very aggressively” challenge the legal validity of the Manhattan grand jury indictment. Trump himself, on his social media platform, trained his anger on a new target, complaining that the judge expected to hear 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 before his scheduled appearance on Tuesday, according to two people familiar with his plans who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Trump’s trip. .
Trump will be arraigned in the same Manhattan courtroom where his company was tried and convicted of tax fraud in December and where the rape trial of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was held. On Friday, Secret Service officials and the New York police toured the courthouse and met about security plans.
Court officials eventually closed and secured access to the 15th floor, where Merchan continued to preside over unrelated business, until Trump’s arraignment.
Lawyers involved in the cases and some employees were allowed to stay, but officers shooed away the media, who were standing guard in front of a bicycle parking barricade set up in the hallway. The 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 advised to remain alert and situationally aware, both inside the courthouses and during perimeter patrols, as evidenced by the incident Tuesday afternoon outside the Manhattan Supreme Court,” the court said. it’s a statement.
Since Trump’s March 18 post saying his arrest was imminent, authorities have increased security, deploying additional police officers, lining the streets around the courthouse with barricades and sending in bomb-sniffing dogs. They had to respond to bomb and death threats, a suspected gunpowder scare and a pro-Trump protester who was arrested Tuesday after witnesses said she pointed a knife at bystanders.
Since no former president has ever been charged with a crime, there is no rule book for booking the defendant. He will be fingerprinted and a mugshot taken, and investigators will fill out arrest paperwork and check to see if he has any criminal charges or outstanding warrants, according to a family person 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 mugshots in most cases. Less clear is whether Trump would seek the release of the image, for political or other reasons.
Once the booking is complete, the former president will appear before a judge for an afternoon arraignment.
Even for defendants who turn themselves in, answering criminal charges in New York generally involves at least several hours of detention while fingerprinting, photographing, and other procedures are performed.
As for the allegations, when Trump ran for president in 2016, his allies paid two women to bury his allegations. The publisher of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer paid McDougal $150,000 for the rights to his story and kept it, in a deal brokered by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
After Cohen himself paid Daniels $130,000, Trump’s company reimbursed him, added bonuses and recorded the payments as legal expenses.
Federal prosecutors argued, in a 2018 criminal case against Cohen, that the payments amounted to illegal aid to the Trump campaign. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violation charges, but federal prosecutors did not pursue Trump, who was then in the White House. However, some of his court filings obliquely implicated him as someone who knew about the payment arrangements.
The New York indictment came as Trump faces other investigations. In Atlanta, prosecutors are considering whether he committed any wrongdoing by trying to get Georgia officials to overturn his narrow 2020 election loss to Joe Biden.
And, at the federal level, a special prosecutor appointed by the Justice Department is also investigating Trump’s efforts to crack the national election results. In addition, the special counsel is examining how and why Trump withheld a cache of top-secret government documents at his Florida club and residence, Mar-a-Lago, and whether the former president or his representatives attempted to obstruct an investigation of those documents. documents. .
Weissert reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz and Jill Colvin in New York and Michael Balsamo and Farnoush Amiri in Washington contributed to this report.
More on the investigations related to Donald Trump: https://apnews.com/hub/donald-trump