Five Facts on the Trump Indictment
On April 4, the former president of the United States was arrested and arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on charges he repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election. Here are Five Facts about the People of the State of New York vs. Donald J. Trump.
1. This was the first-ever criminal indictment of a former president of the United States.
Trump is the first former president to be charged with a felony. Falsifying business records is only a felony in New York State when it is committed with the intent to “commit or conceal” another crime. Prosecutors allege falsifying records to conceal other crimes, illegal conspiracy, covert and illegal payments, suppressing information, disguising monthly payments, hiding the true nature of the payoff, mischaracterization with intent to defraud, and intent to commit other crimes. While other presidents like Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton have faced investigations into misconduct, no president has faced this level of legal jeopardy in two and a half centuries.
2. Trump was arraigned on a New York Supreme Court indictment returned by the grand jury of New York County. Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.
Indictment 71543 of 2023 charges Trump with 34 counts of FALSIFYING BUSINESS RECORDS IN THE FIRST DEGREE, P.L. §175.10. The statement of facts accompanying the indictment reveals charges including 11 falsified invoices, $30,000 paid to a Trump Tower doorman to keep quiet, $130,000 paid to Stormy Daniels through a shell company, $150,000 in hush money to Karen McDougal, 12 falsified general ledger entries, and 11 checks falsely recording payments as “retainer.” Prosecutors contend the overall scheme was a violation of New York state election law. Each one of the individual charges is a Class E felony and each of the 34 counts carries a maximum of up to four years in prison.
3. At least two others have been implicated in the crimes.
Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to two federal crimes involving illegal campaign contributions, and subsequently served time in prison. American Media, Inc. aka The National Enquirer admitted that it made a payment to make sure women “did not publicize damaging allegations” about Trump “before the 2016 presidential election and thereby influence that election.”
4. Three of four Americans think the indictment of the former president was at least in part motivated by politics.
A CNN poll found that 60% of Americans are in favor of Trump being indicted, though a separate poll from NPR/PBS/Marist College found that most Republicans don’t believe the charges are serious. Notably, the CNN poll found that 75% of Americans believe that the indictment of the former president was at least in part political.
5. Trump’s legal problems do not prevent him from running for president again.
Even if he were convicted of these crimes, Donald Trump could still seek reelection in 2024. The Constitution makes clear that the only requirements for president are being a natural-born U.S. citizen, at least 35 years old, and to have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years.