Donald Trump has been indicted by a New York grand jury, marking the first time in American history that a president – current or former – has been charged with a crime.
New York court officials said Friday that Trump will be arraigned Tuesday afternoon at a courthouse in Manhattan.
In a brief statement, a spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg confirmed Trump's indictment and coordination with his legal team regarding his eventual surrender.
"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 spokesperson said. "Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected"
The indictment is under seal and has not been made public yet.
In a statement, Trump called the indictment "Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history."
"Never before in our Nation’s history has this been done," the former president said, before going on to attack Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, as well as Democrats and President Joe Biden, who are uninolved in the case.
Accusing Bragg of being "hand-picked and funded by George Soros," a billionaire philanthropist and frequent target of right-wing conspiracy theories, and "doing Joe Biden's dirty work," Trump said that the district attorney was "ignoring" the city's crime issues.
"I believe this Witch-Hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden," Trump said. "The American people realize exactly what the Radical Left Democrats are doing here. Everyone can see it. So our Movement, and our Party - united and strong - will first defeat Alvin Bragg, and then we will defeat Joe Biden, and we are going to throw every last one of these Crooked Democrats out of office so we can MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"
The former president now faces arrest and an arraignment on yet-to-be disclosed charges in Manhattan Criminal Court, a state-level court.
Trump's attorneys pledged to "vigorously fight" the indictment.
"He did not commit any crime," Trump attorneys Susan Necheles and Joe Tacopina said in a statement. "We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in court."
The case centers on well-chronicled allegations from a period in 2016 when Trump’s celebrity past collided with his political ambitions. Prosecutors scrutinized money paid to porn actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, whom he feared would go public with claims that they had extramarital sexual encounters with him. The case against the former president may involve falsifying business records and violating campaign finance laws.
Trump has previously denied both the affair and any wrongdoing.
Falsifying business records is a misdemeanor, but doing so in furtherance of another crime is a felony in New York state.
When Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal charges connected to the payment to Daniels and another he arranged to McDougal, federal prosecutors said the payments were made “to influence the 2016 presidential election” by exceeding campaign finance limits and “causing an unlawful corporate contribution.” Cohen paid Daniels through a shell company before he was reimbursed by Trump; the payments were logged as legal expenses by Trump’s company, the Trump Organization.
Trump’s company “grossed up” Cohen’s reimbursement for the Daniels payment to defray tax payments, according to federal prosecutors who filed criminal charges against the lawyer in connection with the payments in 2018. In all, Cohen got $360,000 plus a $60,000 bonus, for a total of $420,000.
Trump denies having relationships with either woman and has frequently described the investigation as a politically motivated “witch hunt” — one targeting him because of his position as a former president and leading Republican candidate for the 2024 nomination.
Cohen testified to Congress in 2019 that his former boss asked him to make payments and even discussed reimbursement in the Oval Office in February 2017. Checks of tens of thousands of dollars were sent to Cohen throughout 2017, he said, disguised as legal expenses.
Bragg and his office have been under siege since Trump speculated the arrest was going to come in a matter of days earlier this month. Republicans leading key House committees have threatened to subpoena Bragg for testimony and documents connected to the investigation. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called for investigations into Bragg’s office.
Bomb threats targeted Bragg’s office, Manhattan courthouses, and the headquarters of the NYPD last week, according to the New York Daily News, but were deemed unfounded. On Friday, Bragg’s office received a threatening letter with a powdery substance, though law enforcement later “determined there was no dangerous substance,” according to Bragg spokesperson Danielle Filson.
“Alvin, I am going to kill you,” the letter said, a person familiar with the matter told the Associated Press.
In social media posts, the former president has accused Bragg of being a puppet of the Biden administration, anarchists and the devil. Trump posted an altered picture of him about to hit Bragg with a baseball bat before deleting it, later claiming he was posting an article and wasn’t aware of the picture. In another post, Trump said there would be “potential death & destruction” if he were to face charges.
“I didn’t say ‘death and destruction.’” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Monday. “I didn’t say ‘do something bad,’ I said ‘I’m afraid that people will do something’ because people are very angry about it.”
He has also referred to Bragg, Manhattan’s first Black district attorney, as an “animal.”
In recent weeks, Daniels met with Manhattan prosecutors and Cohen testified in front of the grand jury multiple times. Trump declined an invitation to testify earlier this month, his lawyer Joe Tacopina said.
The grand jury was still hearing testimony from witnesses as of Monday, including former CEO of the parent company of the National Enquirer David Pecker, the Associated Press reported.
Pecker is seen as relevant to the investigation because his company, American Media Inc., secretly assisted Trump’s campaign by paying $150,000 to McDougal for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with Trump. The company then suppressed McDougal’s story until after the election, a dubious journalism practice known as “catch-and-kill.”
Federal prosecutors revealed in 2018 that they had agreed not to bring criminal charges against AMI. Pecker has since stepped away from the company.
Robert Costello, a lawyer who offered legal services to Cohen when he first was targeted by the FBI in 2018, testified in front of the grand jury on March 20, saying afterwards he was there to provide information to the jury that would help Trump and make it clear Cohen could not be trusted. In other legal proceedings, Costello has represented Trump and his allies, including former top adviser Steve Bannon and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“If they want to go after Donald Trump and they have solid evidence, so be it,” Costello said after testifying. “But Michael Cohen is far from solid evidence.”
Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 and was sentenced to three years in federal prison for tax evasion and campaign finance violations, but served just over a year in upstate New York. Federal prosecutors opted not to charge Trump in connection with their investigation.
“This is not revenge, right? What this is about is accountability,” Cohen told reporters before entering the Lower Manhattan courthouse on March 13. “I don’t want to see anyone, including Donald Trump, indicted, prosecuted, convicted, incarcerated, simply because I fundamentally disagree with them. This is all about accountability. He needs to be held accountable for his dirty deeds.”
After initially slowing down the investigation in his first year in office, Bragg confirmed to Spectrum News NY1 in January his office had an “ongoing active investigation” into the former president. A grand jury was convened later that month, according to multiple media reports.
New York law enforcement officials have been preparing for the indictment, which will require coordination with the Secret Service as Trump makes his way from Florida to New York City.
In addition to the Manhattan charges, a Georgia grand jury investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in that state wrapped up earlier this year, though no announcement on possible charges has been made as the former president’s lawyers have moved to bar the district attorney from investigating or prosecuting him.
On the federal level, Trump is being investigated by special counsel Jack Smith over his handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, and the Department of Justice is continuing its investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 election, though neither probe has resulted in any criminal charges. The DOJ recently told a federal court the former president could be sued by injured Capitol Police and Democratic lawmakers over the insurrection.
In December, Trump’s businesses were found guilty of 17 counts of tax fraud and other crimes and penalized $1.6 million, a case also prosecuted by Bragg.
And New York state Attorney General Letitia James is currently suing the former president and the Trump Organization for allegedly misleading banks about the value of his assets. She is seeking a $250 million fine and a ban on Trump doing business in the state. The trial is scheduled for October.
Spectrum News’ Victoria Manna and the Associated Press contributed to this report.