NEW YORK — Donald Trump was indicted Thursday by a Manhattan grand jury in the Stormy Daniels hush money probe, an unprecedented legal move that marks the first criminal charges in U.S. history brought against a former president, The New York Daily News has learned.
Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina confirmed the indictment to the Daily News shortly after Trump learned of it. The papers were filed under seal at the clerk’s office in Manhattan Supreme Court at about 5:30 p.m., a court source told the Daily News.
“President Trump has been indicted. He did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in Court,” Tacopina and Susan Necheles said in a joint statement.
Trump is expected to surrender Tuesday, a source with knowledge of the situation told the Daily News.
It is not known what charges Trump faces. The grand jury had been investigating a hush money payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels on the eve of Trump’s 2016 election as president, among other areas of interest related to his business dealings, according to sources connected to the probe.
Sources believe DA Alvin Bragg has been considering charging Trump with felony-level crimes concerning hush money deals paid out in the leadup to the 2016 presidential election to women with whom he allegedly had sexual encounters.
A spokesperson for Bragg issued a short statement, but provided no details as to what the charges against the former president might be.
“This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal,” the statement read. “Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”
The former president decried the indictment in a lengthy statement.
“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 hardworking men and women of this Country — have been engaged in a Witch-Hunt to destroy the Make America Great Again movement,” Trump said.
“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.”
The hush money deal has long been public knowledge. Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, detailed the entire scheme and Trump’s role in it during his 2018 federal case when he copped to campaign finance violations, among other crimes.
The former Trump lawyer notoriously referenced Trump in his plea as “Individual 1,” admitting that he issued the payment to Daniels “for the principal purpose of influencing” the 2016 presidential election.
Daniels’ $130,000 payoff came as the Trump campaign learned she was ready to go public with her allegations about sleeping with Trump in 2006 at a Lake Tahoe golf tournament, according to the federal case. Cohen took the money out through a home equity line of credit and had it wired to Daniels through an LLC.
Cohen said he further helped arrange for The National Enquirer’s publisher to pay Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000, who said she slept with Trump between 2006 and 2007. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that prosecutors are interested in McDougal as well.
In the federal case, prosecutors said Cohen “acted in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump and campaign officials to illegally pay Daniels into silence about the alleged sexual encounter to better his prospects of winning the presidency.
The feds said Trump and his company paid Cohen back for the hush money to Daniels in monthly reimbursement checks with interest, which were falsely classified as “legal expenses.”
While directly implicating him in their case, the feds ultimately declined to press charges against Trump, reportedly fearing the case would devolve into a political firestorm and pale in comparison to what he was accused of in the Jan. 6 insurrection of the U.S. Capitol.
The historic charges against Trump in his hometown come more than four years after Bragg’s predecessor Cy Vance Jr. first launched an investigation into the real estate developer and his business dealings.
The long-running probe, which made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, has seen numerous twists and turns, in 2021 spinning off criminal charges against the Trump Organization and its finance chief Allen Weisselberg for tax fraud, resulting in both of their convictions.
Soon after DA Bragg took office in January 2022, the investigation spanning multiple areas of interest was believed dead in the water when he let a special grand jury hearing evidence against Trump expire and the lead investigators quit in protest.
Bragg came under fierce criticism upon the leaking of Mark Pomerantz’s resignation letter to the New York Times, in which he said Trump was guilty of numerous felonies and should face charges.
After revisiting the hush money deal that prompted the probe, Bragg in January revived speculation Trump could still face charges upon the impaneling of a new grand jury, summoning Cohen to his downtown offices, along with former senior Trump aides Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks.