What You Need to Know About Donald Trump’s Indictment


Tommy Thompson (he/him), Staff Writer

Throughout United States’ history, no president has ever been charged criminally.  This all changed on April 4th, 2023, when Donald Trump, former US president, was charged for criminal activity. He is being charged for 34 accounts of falsifying business information in the first degree. The former president drove into the Manhattan criminal court at 2:15 and pleaded not guilty to any of the charges presented to him, leaving the courthouse stating “There was nothing done illegally!” on social media. This, of course, will be decided by the jury, but in the meantime, here are the details of this unprecedented indictment of a former US president. 

The charges are all related to a “hush money” payment to the adult film star Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election. To prevent Daniels from talking about the affair, Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen paid the actor $130,000. The prosecution’s case states: “The defendant Donald J Trump repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 election.” In 2017, after Donald Trump had become president, he met with Cohen and over 10 months would send him checks for handling assets. The checks in question were registered as legal fees but Cohen says otherwise, stating that the checks were in fact payments for the hush money. The prosecution case stated: “The payment records which were kept and maintained by the Trump Organization, were false New York business records.” 

What originally could have been charged as a misdemeanor quickly turned into a felony. While hush money payments are not by themselves illegal, spending the money to help a presidential campaign without disclosing it violates federal campaign finance law. Since the checks sent to Cohen were not disclosed to the public, this, alongside the falsified business records, is a violation of federal law. District Attorney Alvin Bragg pointed out to the court Trump’s pattern of criminal activity. According to the indictment’s Statement of Facts, “The defendant orchestrated a scheme with others to influence the 2016 presidential election by identifying and purchasing negative information about him to suppress its publication and benefit the defendant’s electoral prospects.”  Trump’s pattern of criminal activity was again brought up by District Attorney Bragg when he cited two more examples of hush money payments made by Trump.  In one case, a doorman who knew that Trump had a child out of wedlock was paid over $30,000. The second case involved another woman who claimed to have had an affair with Trump, and she was paid $150,000. Trump has denied the affair ever happened. However their is only so much that Trump can deny, as District Attorney Bragg states that he has obtained texts, emails, phone records, and testimonies from multiple witnesses. His next court date is due December 4th.  The prosecution said it hoped to have a trial in January of 2024. 

Despite being one of the Republican frontrunners in  the upcoming presidential election, Donald Trump finds himself close to losing the ability to run for president again. After his indictment, Trump flew back to Florida and made a statement regarding the indictment. “The only crime I have ever committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy,” said Trump during his speech. “Virtually, everybody that has looked at this case, including RINOS and even hardcore Democrats, say that there is no crime.”

As Trump continues to gain attention through his controversial speeches, and with election season approaching quickly, it’s hard to say if Trump will be indicted for his crimes.