NEW YORK — Donald Trump was indicted Thursday by a Manhattan grand jury in the Stormy Daniels hush money probe, an unprecedented legal move marking 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 on Tuesday, a source involved in the negotiations told the Daily News.
Trump faces more than two dozen charges, according to The New York Times and CNN, though details were not immediately known. His own attorney could not confirm details of the charges to the Daily News. The grand jury heard evidence about the notorious hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels on the eve of his 2016 election as president, among other areas of interest related to his financial habits and business dealings, witnesses who testified before the grand jury told the Daily News.
DA Alvin Bragg had no comment leaving his office at around 7 p.m. flanked by a heavy security detail. A spokesperson issued a short statement confirming the indictment but provided no details as to the charges or whether they carry prison time.
“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.”
Trump 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.”
Sources involved in the probe believed Bragg planned to charge Trump with felony-level crimes concerning hush money deals paid out in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election to women with whom he allegedly had extramarital sexual encounters.
The hush money deals have long been public knowledge. Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, served three years in federal custody for the illicit payoffs, detailing Trump’s role in them during his 2018 guilty plea to campaign finance violations and other crimes.
The former Trump lawyer notoriously referenced Trump as “Individual 1,” and admitted 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 him in 2006 at celebrity golf tournament event in Lake Tahoe, according to the federal case. Cohen took the money out through a home equity line of credit and had it wired to Daniels’ lawyer through a shell company.
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 presented evidence about the McDougal deal as well.
In his 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 payoff to Daniels — which they described as an “illegal campaign contribution” — 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, Cyrus Vance Jr., first launched an investigation into the real estate developer and his business dealings.
The long-running probe, which twice 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. In a rare statement addressing the probe last April, Bragg swore it wasn’t over and that Trump could still face charges. The DA said he would tell the public when the decision was made.
In January, Bragg jolted suspicions that day might come soon, impaneling a new grand jury to hear testimony from the whole cast of characters involved in the notorious hush money deal that started it all.