Former US President Donald Trump has been indicted over an alleged cover-up of a hush money payment to a porn star ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
After days of uncertainties and speculations, the indictment in a case brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office becomes the first criminal case against a former US president.
According to Trump’s lawyer, a Manhattan grand jury has voted to indict Donald Trump on charges involving payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence claims of an extramarital sexual encounter.
The exact details of what he is being charged with are not yet known because grand jury proceedings in the US remain secret until the defendant is in custody.
9News Nigeria foreign correspondent gathered that the former US president is currently in his residence in Florida and his lawyer said Trump will surrender to face the charges and fly to New York for the arraignment.
Donald Trump who is bidding to take back the white house in 2024 has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly attacked the investigation, calling the indictment “political persecution” and predicting it would damage the Democrats in 2024.
As Donald Trump fought his way to victory in the 2016 presidential campaign, key allies tried to smooth his bumpy path by paying off two women thinking of going public with allegations of extramarital encounters with the Republican.
It was believed that during the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s key allies tried to pave way for his victory by paying off two women who wanted to go public with allegations of extramarital encounters with the Republican presidential candidate.
The way that Trump’s company accounted for one of the payoffs is believed to be at the centre of a grand jury investigation that led to a criminal indictment that could result in the first-ever criminal prosecution of a former US president.
Meanwhile, the former president’s supporters have gathered outside Mar-a-Lago to show unflinching support for Donald Trump. Trump’s supporters were seen outside his Palm Beach, Florida estate waving flags and holding signs in protest of his indictment.
While speaking to CNN, former vice president Mike Pence described Trump’s indictment as “a great disservice to the country,” saying it’s mere political persecution.
Pence said the idea that for the first time in American history, a former president would be indicted on a campaign finance issue to him, is just smacks of political prosecution.
“I really do believe that this decision today is a great disservice to the country,” Pence says.
“And the idea that for the first time in American history, a former president would be indicted on a campaign finance issue to me, it just smacks of political prosecution.”
“I think the overwhelming majority of the American people will see it that way,” Pence said adding that he can’t speak to the merit of this particular case.
On the other hand, Former House Speaker and leader of the Democrats, Nancy Pelosi says the grand jury has acted upon the facts of the law in indicting the former president.
Congresswoman Pelosi tweeted on her Twitter account: “No one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence”
“Hopefully, the former President will peacefully respect the system, which grants him that right.”
Reacting to the indictment saga, Professor James Sample who is an expert in Constitutional Law at Hofstra University said that It’s going to be a while before any trial will unveil if there even is one.
Professor Sample said: “This is a very, very big step in a big historic moment but it’s going to be many months, maybe even approximately a year before a trial, if there ever is one, will go forward,” he told Reuters.
“So we are a long way away from Donald Trump actually suffering lasting consequences for his actions.
“But this is one of the first times in Trump’s entire life, much less political career, where there are some real potential consequences for his actions and he’s no longer able to say that he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and commit a crime and not have anyone take it seriously.”
Professor James Sample also said that former president Trump won’t be able to “spin” his way out when placed in a court environment.
“At this point, he is no longer going to be able to compete merely in the court of public opinion,” he told Reuters.
“Competing in actual court is a different thing. Spin won’t matter, facts will matter, the law will matter and just as happened between election day in November of 2020 and the certification of the vote on January 6, 2021, in that in between period, every single time the president took his election denial efforts to court, in court where facts and law actually matter, he lost,” Sample said.
Speaking further, Professor James Sample also said that Donald Trump’s indictment “may open Pandora’s box in terms of the other prosecutions that he’s facing across the nation.”
“What’s staggering really is the sheer volume of the potential charges that he’s facing,” he told Reuters.
“I mean, totally different jurisdictions. This is Manhattan, New York. In Washington, DC, in the Department of Justice, Jack Smith, the special counsel, is potentially pursuing not just one but two separate investigations, one into the January 6 insurrection and one into the classified documents that were found in Mar-a-Lago and the obstruction of justice that occurred thereafter.
“And then in Georgia, Fani Willis is investigating and has said that an indictment is imminent, although imminent seems to be somewhat a malleable term, with respect to his attempt to interfere with the Georgia election counting process and the urging of the Secretary of State to find more votes.”
Report by Obinna Ejianya – 9News Nigeria, Melbourne Australia
9News Nigeria / ABC News Australia