New York, Mar 30 (EFE).- A grand jury in New York voted Thursday to indict Donald Trump in a case related to alleged hush money payments made during his 2016 presidential campaign to women who claimed to have had extramarital affairs with the real estate mogul.
Trump, 76, becomes the first sitting or former president of the United States to be charged with a crime.
The investigation of the alleged payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal is being conducted by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
News of the indictment, which comes less than a week after the first rally of Trump’s bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and 12 days after he anticipated his arrest and called for protests, was broken by The New York Times, citing “five people with knowledge of the matter.”
The former president denounced the indictment as “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history.”
“I believe this Witch-Hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden,” Trump said in a statement. “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!”
Neither Trump nor any media outlet mentioned the specific charges, which will remain under seal until his arraignment in a New York court.
The Times said that Bragg’s office will contact Trump in the coming days to request that he surrender to authorities and the former president’s attorneys have indicated his willingness to do so if indicted.
In this instance, the likeliest scenario would be for Trump’s US Secret Service detail to accompany him to the Manhattan DA’s Office, which has its own detective squad to handle the fingerprinting and mug shots.
The former president would be taken directly to the courthouse for arraignment and then released on his own recognizance.
Media outlets reported weeks ago that the New York Police Department had already begun contingency planning for such an eventuality amid fears of possible disturbances at the courthouse involving supporters and opponents of the former president.
Thursday’s development came as something as a surprise as the grand jury was due to adjourn for a month, leading most observers to expect that a decision on indicting Trump would not come before late April.
Trump is also the subject of criminal investigations in Georgia and Washington, DC, in connection with his attempts to overturn his loss to Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
And the Justice Department named a special counsel to look into the classified documents found last year at Trump’s Florida residence. EFE nqs/dr