MANHATTAN — Former president Donald Trump has been indicted by a grand jury in New York over his role in a hush payment made to an adult film star during the 2016 election — an unprecedented and monumental development that is certain to rattle US politics as the country gears up for another election.
In a statement, Trump said the indictment is “political persecution” and “election interference at the highest level in history.”
“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,” the statement reads.
The indictment spearheaded by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which confirmed the indictment on Thursday, marks the first time in US history that a president — former or current — has been criminally charged. It also comes as Trump, who has so often seemed to escape real consequences over his many scandals and wrongdoings, makes another run for the White House.
Trump will now need to be formally arrested and arraigned like any other defendant — a stunning fall from grace for someone who was once one of the most powerful people on the planet. But unlike others who appear in court, Trump will be accompanied by Secret Service agents as he does so. As of Thursday, Trump was reportedly at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, and a spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said his office was working with Trump’s attorneys to coordinate his surrender and select a date for arraignment.
News of the indictment, while staggering, was not unexpected. For weeks, legal and media observers had been preparing for the possibility that Trump would be charged as the grand jury in Manhattan heard evidence about the $130,000 payment to adult performer Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford and who alleged she had sex with Trump in 2006 — a claim he has denied.