Savannah Brooks ’26
After weeks of speculation about whether or not former President Donald Trump would be indicted (including the creation of several viral AI-created photographs of him running from the police and being forcefully placed in cuffs), a Manhattan Grand Jury decided to move forward with the indictment on Thursday. This means that the jury, which is made up of 23 New Yorkers, has charged former President Trump with one or more crimes. This came after a hearing period in which the jury heard evidence presented by witnesses of the prosecution, led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. This process is kept under wraps and the indictment is still sealed, so what the charges actually are are still officially a mystery; however, we know that the charges are based on an investigation into former President Trump’s $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election that allegedly was meant to keep her quiet about their affair.
Although former President Trump has publicly stated that he will be arrested, there are currently plans made by his attorney for him to turn himself in on Tuesday, April 4, at 2:15 p.m., after which he will appear in court for an arraignment. Former President Trump is the first president to ever be indicted. This comes after he became the first president to be impeached twice: once in 2019 for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress and once in 2021 for incitement of insurrection. Trump was only the third president to be impeached at all following President Andrew Johnson in 1868 and President Bill Clinton in 1998. Former President Trump could still be elected president even if he is found guilty, as the Constitution only requires a president to be born in the U.S., 35 years of age, and a U.S. resident for 14 years.
Since we do not yet know for certain what the official charge(s) placed against former President Trump are, we also can’t be sure what his sentence would be if found guilty, even if he will face jail time. If former President Trump was deemed guilty, it would be his first-time offense and a non-violent crime, which doesn’t always mean prison. It is likely that the charges include falsifying business records in the commission of another crime, which has a maximum of four years in prison.
So far, current President Joe Biden has refused to comment on the indictment. Former President Trump called it, “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history” in a statement issued Thursday. Other republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence, have also publicly denounced the indictment as divisive and unnecessary. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said in a tweet Thursday that “the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.” Democrats have responded to the indictment by saying that Trump should respect the legal system and follow the proceedings. Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tweeted Thursday that “no one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence,” although she has since been criticized for her wording since, under the American system, former President Trump is innocent until proven guilty.
Former President Trump’s indictment comes in the middle of a heated firestorm in American politics in which Republicans and Democrats are diametrically opposed on issues regarding transgender and abortion rights as well as education restrictions in Republican states.
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