Donald Trump Becomes First Ex-US President to be Slapped with Criminal Charges

Last Updated on 2023-04-03 , 9:50 am

Mr Donald Trump is the first man in the Oval Office to be impeached twice, the first man in the Oval Office to incite an insurrection, and the first man to lose the popular vote twice.

Now, he is also the first ex-US president to be indicted.

Here’s what you need to know. 

Indicted for Paying Hush Money to a Porn Star

As of 31 March 2023, the former president of the US faces criminal charges.

A Manhattan grand jury has indicted him after an investigation regarding hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels.

CNN reported that Mr Trump is also facing more than 30 counts relating to business fraud.

However, the specific charges have yet to be revealed.

Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg led the investigation.

This news is a big deal and could reshape the 2024 presidential race.

Ms Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is a well-known adult film actress.

She said she received money in exchange for keeping silent about a sexual encounter with Mr Trump in 2006.

The payment occurred just before the 2016 election, where Mr Trump became the 45th president of the US. 

Her lawyer, Clark Brewster, said Mr Trump’s indictment shows that “no one is above the law”.

Mr Trump had previously announced that he would continue campaigning for the Republican Party’s nomination, even if he were charged with a crime.

He said he was “completely innocent”, and framed the situation as a “political persecution and election interference”.

Notably, he neglected to provide any evidence of his innocence. 

He even appealed to his supporters to donate money for a legal defence.

Mr Bragg’s office contacted Trump’s attorney to coordinate a surrender.

Mr Trump’s lawyers, Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina, said they would “vigorously fight” the charges.

However, Ms Necheles does not know when the surrender will occur. 

An anonymous law enforcement source and New York prosecutors have also confirmed the indictment.

Reportedly Wanted to be Handcuffed for Court Appearance

On 22 March 2023, it was reported that Mr Trump told his advisers that he wanted to be handcuffed during his court appearance if he is indicted, according to multiple sources close to the former president.

Apparently, Mr Trump reasoned that he might as well turn the incident into a “spectacle” since he had to go to the courthouse and surrender himself for fingerprinting and a mug shot.

He was also reportedly concerned about special arrangements like making his first court appearance via video instead.

He feared it would make him look “weak” or like a “loser”.

He also wanted to project defiance since he felt the prosecution was unfair, especially in light of his 2024 presidential campaign.

The 76-year-old former president had previously sought re-election in 2020 but was defeated by Democrat Joe Biden.

The Investigation

Mr Bragg’s office prosecuted Trump’s business last year on tax-fraud charges.

This resulted in a criminal penalty of US$1.61 million (S$2.14 million).

Regarding the Daniels case, Mr Bragg was threatened with assassination via a letter containing powder.

The letter was received mere hours after Mr Trump warned of “potential death and destruction” if indicted.

According to law enforcement sources, the typewritten note in the letter said, “ALVIN: I AM GOING TO KILL YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!”, WNBC reported.

However, it seems that Mr Bragg isn’t deterred.

Besides investigating the Daniels case, Mr Bragg’s office is also investigating another hush money deal involving Mr Trump.

Ms Karen McDougal, Playboy Magazine’s Playmate of the Year in 1998, claimed she began a 10-month relationship with Mr Trump in 2006.

According to people familiar with the incident, Mr Bragg’s office is examining a S$150,000 payment to Ms McDougal, according to The Wall Street Journal.

This means that Mr Trump potentially faces charges related to silencing both women. 

In addition, he also faces a criminal investigation by a special counsel appointed by US Attorney General Merrick Garland and another by a local prosecutor in Georgia. 

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Divisive Issue

It is no doubt that Mr Trump is a controversial figure.

According to a poll by Reuters last week, about 44% of Republicans feel that he should drop out of the race if indicted.

While Mr Trump’s allies and fellow Republicans have criticised the indictment for being politically motivated, Democrats said the former president is not immune to the law.

Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the United States House of Representatives accused Mr Bragg for damaging the country in an attempt to interfere with the elections.

However, Trump supporters and critics alike have doubts over the Daniels case’s legal merits. 

There are also concerns that Trump getting indicted could propel him to victory in the nomination race.

Mr Brewster tweeted, “The indictment of Donald Trump is no cause for joy.”

California Representative Eric Swalwell released a statement on the former president’s indictment.

Pointing out that the indictment of a former president is a “sombre issue”, he asks Americans not to be incited and believe in America’s judicial system.

You can view his statement in full below: