WASHINGTON (TND) — The grand jury in Manhattan investigating Donald Trump voted to indict the former president in connection to alleged 2016 hush money payments made by his then-attorney Michael Cohen to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, according to a New York Times report.
The vote took place earlier this week and the precise charges are not yet known because no formal announcement has been made.
Trump reacted to the news in a statement, calling it political persecution and election interference. He also described it as a witch hunt.
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 hard-working men and women of this Country -- have been engaged in a Witch-Hunt to destroy the Make America Great Again movement," Trump noted.
Earlier this month, Trump was invited to appear before the grand jury. That fueled widespread speculation a vote would be happening soon.
Trump himself predicted an indictment. He posted on social media that he expected to be arrested soon.
No sitting or former president has ever been charged with a crime.
Lanny David, who is Cohen's attorney, said he and his client "regard Mr. Trump innocent until proven guilty. He's entitled to the protection of the very constitution that he was ready to repudiate and he's innocent until proven guilty."
The investigation has been going on for years, with a grand jury hearing from multiple witnesses during the last several weeks.
The district attorney’s office has been investigating whether Trump or his company broke any laws in connection with the payments. Cohen has said he arranged payments to Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal for them to keep quiet about alleged affairs.
Later on Thursday night, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said his office contacted Trump's attorney "to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A. Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal," Bragg noted. "Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected."
Cohen pleaded guilty to federal charges connected to the payment to Daniels in 2018, but federal prosecutors never charged Trump, who was president at the time of Cohen’s conviction, with a crime.
The hush money case is under investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in New York, led by Democrat Alvin Bragg. The investigation has taken years to get to the point of a potential indictment and was started by the previous district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr.
Law enforcement officials were preparing after the former president posted to his social media platform Truth Social over the weekend encouraging his supporters to take action. New York City police put up barricades and the U.S. Capitol Police were stepping up security Monday in anticipation of the arrest.
IT’S TIME!!!” he wrote. “WE JUST CAN’T ALLOW THIS ANYMORE. THEY’RE KILLING OUR NATION AS WE SIT BACK & WATCH. WE MUST SAVE AMERICA! PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!”
A handful of his followers did just that recently making their way out to Mar-a-Lago to show their support.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has already attempted to quell potential unrest, calling for calm ahead of a potential arrest.
I don’t think people should protest this, no. And I think President Trump, if you talk to him, he doesn’t believe that, either,” McCarthy said during a news conference Sunday at the House Republicans’ retreat in Orlando.
As Trump contends with multiple investigations, how it will impact his 2024 campaign remains unknown. Some think it’ll re-energize his supporters and his chances as he trails behind DeSantis in multiple polls.
Others say it will be more damage piled onto his back-to-back losses in the popular vote, as well as the continued baggage of being the only president to be impeached twice.
NBC News reported that Trump's attorney Joe Tacopina said the former president plans to surrender to the Manhattan District Attorney's office early next week.
THE FOLLOWING IS TRUMP'S RESPONSE IN FULL:
This is Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history. 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 hard-working men and women of this Country — have been engaged in a Witch-Hunt to destroy the Make America Great Again movement. You remember it just like I do: Russia, Russia, Russia; the Mueller Hoax; Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine; Impeachment Hoax 1; Impeachment Hoax 2; the illegal and unconstitutional Mar-a-Lago raid; and now this.
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.
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.
Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who was hand-picked and funded by George Soros, is a disgrace. Rather than stop the unprecedented crime wave taking over New York City, he’s doing Joe Biden’s dirty work, ignoring the murders and burglaries and assaults he should be focused on. This is how Bragg spends his time!
I believe this Witch-Hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden. 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!