Donald Trump, indicted in New York, is first ex-U.S. president to face criminal charges

Donald Trump was indicted in New York on Thursday, making him the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges and reigniting a heated national debate about the fairness of investigations into the Republican leader’s past actions.

The New York Times first reported that Trump was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly hiding a hush-money payment to an adult film actress during his 2016 campaign.

In a statement, the former president said the indictment was “political persecution” at “the highest level in history.”

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“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,” Trump said.

A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg confirmed the office had reached out to Trump’s attorneys to “coordinate his surrender.” The office released a statement that said the arraignment date had not yet been set and that the indictment remains under seal.

The exact nature of the charges remains unknown.

The charges represent a major complication in the GOP presidential primary, where Trump is trying to reclaim the party’s White House nomination. He faces a potentially large field of candidates that could include his former vice president, Mike Pence, and Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in addition to former South Carolina governor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.


The former president, who lost his reelection in 2020 to current Democratic President Joe Biden, is trying to become the first candidate in more than 125 years to win non-consecutive terms in the White House. Trump’s campaign began asking his supporters Thursday for political donations “to defend our movement from the never-ending witch hunts and WIN the WHITE HOUSE in 2024.”

“This is an unprecedented situation: a former president not only being indicted but also seeking reelection after having been elected out of office just a few years earlier,” presidential historian Mark Updegrove told ABC News Thursday night. “There is nothing even remotely like this in American history.”

Although historic, the indictment was not unexpected: Trump himself predicted more than a week ago that he would face charges, and reports emerged earlier this month that the Manhattan DA’s office had signaled to the former president’s legal defense team that he could soon face an indictment. Potential sites for pro-Trump protests, including the district attorney’s office in Manhattan and the U.S. Capitol, began preparations for demonstrations in recent days, bracing for the arrival of angry Trump supporters.

At the heart of the charges against Trump are allegations that, ahead of the 2016 presidential election, he illegally paid $130,000 in hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Daniels has said that she and Trump had a consensual sexual encounter a decade earlier, in 2006, which Trump also denies.


Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., condemned news of the indictment during a livestream, saying his father’s political opponents were trying to damage him however they can.

“This is weaponized justice at its absolute worst,” he said.

In addition to facing charges in New York over the hush money payments, Trump faces a multitude of other potential charges stemming from his conduct while president.

In Georgia, the district attorney for Fulton County is investigating whether Trump violated state law in his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Investigators there are reportedly probing whether Trump violated Georgia’s election code, as well as laws against racketeering, which could expose Trump to felony charges carrying up to 20 years in prison.


At the federal level, the Justice Department has appointed a special counsel to investigate whether Trump broke federal law in his attempts to overturn the election. Indictments from that probe could charge the former president with attempting to obstruct an official proceeding — Congress’ certification of the election results on Jan. 6, 2021 — with inciting an insurrection, or conspiring to defraud the United States.

And last year, FBI agents conducted a search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, seizing hundreds of classified documents related to his time as president — including some of the most sensitive documents in the U.S. government. That investigation, being run out of the same special counsel’s office, could result in a range of charges for the former president, including mishandling of classified material, unauthorized retention of national security material and obstruction of justice.

Trump also faces two defamation lawsuits filed by E. Jean Carroll, a writer who says Trump raped her in a New York department store dressing room in the 1990s. Trump denies the allegations. One suit is in federal court and was delayed indefinitely this week by the trial judge. The other suit, which also includes a battery allegation, is in New York state court and is scheduled for trial in late April.