Live updates: Trump asked to surrender after Manhattan grand jury indicts him for hush money payments

Published March 30, 2023 at 6:38 PM EDT
Former U.S. President Donald Trump, pictured here at a campaign rally in Waco, Texas, has been indicted by a Manhattan Grand Jury for his role in hiding hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
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Getty Images North America
Former President Donald Trump, pictured here at a campaign rally in Waco, Texas, has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury for his role in hiding hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

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Donald Trump has been indicted by a New York grand jury for his role in paying hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said it has contacted Trump’s attorney “to coordinate his surrender” for arraignment. The grand jury’s indictment remains under seal.

Get up to speed:

A member of the Exonerated 5 has one word for Trump's indictment

Posted March 30, 2023 at 11:47 PM EDT

Yusef Salaam, a member of The Exonerated 5, took to Twitter to issue his own response to former President Donald Trump’s indictment on Thursday.

“For those asking about my statement on the indictment of Donald Trump - who never said sorry for calling for my execution - here it is: Karma,” he said.

Salaam, who is running for New York City council, was one of five Black and Hispanic teenagers at the time accused of raping a white woman who was jogging through Central Park in 1989. Trump took out several newspaper ads across the city calling for the boys to receive the death penalty.

Salaam, along with Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise became known as the Central Park Five, but have since been called The Exonerated 5 when their convictions were vacated in 2002 and they received a $41 million settlement from New York City in 2014.

Salaam spoke with Fresh Air in 2021 about that experience and his memoir, Better, Not Bitter. Listen to that conversation and read the highlights here.

What Democrats are saying about the indictment

Posted March 30, 2023 at 11:26 PM EDT

Several Republican politicians rallied around former President Donald Trump amid news he was indicted Thursday for allegedly covering up hush money he paid to actress Stormy Daniels, while Democrats largely voiced their support for the legal process.

“Today is a solemn day for our nation,” House assistant Democratic leader James Clyburn said. “The indictment of a former president, someone who should act in accordance with the highest of standards, serves as a sobering affirmation of the words written in 1776 by Thomas Paine in Common Sense.”

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said there are still a lot of unknowns and Trump should be granted due process, but that “The Manhattan District Attorney must be allowed to continue his investigation without interference.”

“Any attempt to undermine this process is contrary to the rule of law; and political violence or threats of violence cannot be tolerated,” he added.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “Donald Trump is subject to the same laws as every American.”

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who served as a lead impeachment manager against Trump, said, “The indictment of a former president is unprecedented. But so too is the unlawful conduct in which Trump has been engaged. A nation of laws must hold the rich and powerful accountable, even when they hold high office. Especially when they do. To do otherwise is not democracy.”

Who is Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan DA who indicted Trump?

Posted March 30, 2023 at 10:22 PM EDT

A years-long investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office into Donald Trump’s hush-money payments to an adult film star led to Thursday’s grand jury vote to indict the former president.

Now it’s up to the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, to pursue the criminal charges against Trump. He plans to do just that.

His role has unsurprisingly made him a target of attacks from Trump and pro-Trump Republicans who say Bragg’s move to indict Trump is politically motivated.

What do we actually know about Bragg?

The prosecutor is a Democrat from Harlem, who served as a state and federal prosecutor before becoming the first Black person to hold the Manhattan DA post a just over a year ago.

Over his more than two decades spent working in the criminal justice system, his priorities have included tackling police misconduct, gun violence, hate crimes and recidivism.

But, as NPR previously detailed, it’s not his first brush with Trump-related litigation. When Bragg became DA, he inherited an investigation involving the former president’s alleged lies to banks and tax officials. But he chose to not move forward with the case — the evidence wasn’t enough to convince him, he said.

Bragg’s challenge now is executing Trump’s arraignment. Bragg’s office said it has contacted Trump’s attorney “to coordinate his surrender” for arraignment. That will involve logistics like bringing in the former president for fingerprinting as he works with Trump and his lawyers, the Secret Service and the police.

Trump has called for protests if he’s arrested. Bragg’s office has said that intimidations will not interfere with the case.

“We will not be intimidated by attempts to undermine the justice process, nor will we let baseless accusations deter us from fairly applying the law,” a spokesperson for the DA told NPR in a statement last week.

Falsifying business records, Trump's possible charge, is 'quite serious,' says a former U.S. prosecutor.

Posted March 30, 2023 at 10:15 PM EDT

What kind of charge could Trump be facing? Mostly likely a violation of New York penal code 175.10, falsifying business records in the first degree, says Kim Wehle, a former U.S. attorney and now a law professor at the University of Baltimore.

Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen negotiated a deal with porn star Stormy Daniels, paying her $130,000 in exchange for keeping her story about an alleged affair with Trump quiet. Cohen transferred that money to Daniels less than two weeks before the election. And then after Trump won, Trump reimbursed Cohen, including with his own personal checks. Trump has denied having had an affair with Daniels, although he has admitted reimbursing Cohen for money paid to her.

The Trump Organization said that those reimbursement payments were for legal fees, which is not true. In New York, that's a felony if it was done to cover up another crime — in this case, probably the violation of campaign finance laws, Wehle says.

"It's quite serious, even if the charge itself doesn't reach the heights that some people would expect from a former president," Wehle told NPR's Adrian Florido on All Things Considered.

As a Class E felony, a conviction on falsifying business records could come with a prison sentence of up to four years, Wehle said.

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Mike Pence is taking questions about Trump live on television

Posted March 30, 2023 at 9:46 PM EDT

The former vice president is currently sitting for a live interview on CNN, and he appears to be staying pretty consistent with the party line, dismissing the indictment as a weaponization of the district attorney's office.

Here's a flavor of what the discussion is like:

CNN Host Wolf Blitzer: "I want to begin with the New York grand jury. [...] I want to get your reaction to this unprecedented development."

Pence: "Well, I think the unprecedented indictment of a former president of the United States on a campaign finance issue is an outrage. And it appears for millions of Americans, to be nothing more than a political prosecution that's driven by a prosecutor who literally ran for office on a pledge to indict the former president."

And later:

Blitzer: "Are there any circumstances at all, Mr. Vice President, in which you would think it would be appropriate to criminally prosecute a former U.S. president or should former presidents be categorically immune from any and all criminal charges?"

Pence: "No one is above the law, including former presidents. Let me be clear on that point. And the American people know this, but in this case, in a controversy over campaign finance -- I can't speak to the merits of this case at all. But I can speak to the issue emanating out of a question over campaign finance should never have risen to the level to bring an unprecedented and historic prosecution against the former president."

In a follow-up question, Pence said the indictment wouldn't serve as a factor in his decision on whether to run for president in 2024.

ICYMI
political activists

Political activists are celebrating and condemning the news of Trump's indictment

Posted March 30, 2023 at 9:40 PM EDT
A banner reading "Trump Lies All The Time" is unfurled on the sidewalk in front of the Manhattan District Attorney's office in New York City on March 30, 2023. - A New York grand jury has voted to indict former US president Donald Trump over hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, multiple US media reported on March 30, 2023. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP) (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)
ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images
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AFP
A banner reading "Trump Lies All The Time" is unfurled on the sidewalk in front of the Manhattan District Attorney's office in New York City on March 30, 2023. - A New York grand jury has voted to indict former US president Donald Trump over hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, multiple US media reported on March 30, 2023. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP) (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

The news of former President Trump’s indictment is bringing out political activists — who are condemning New York’s district attorney while others celebrate the grand jury's decision.

One political activist, Lisa Fithian, is in Lower Manhattan with a group holding a gigantic banner that reads “Trump lies all the time” and made its first appearance during one of Trump’s impeachment trials in Washington, D.C.

“We thought it was apropos based on this indictment," Fithian told WNYC's Catalina Gonella.

Meanwhile, in Florida protesters lined the side of a road with signs in support of the former president.

Supporters of former US President Donald Trump protest near the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, on March 30, 2023. - A New York grand jury has voted to indict former US president Donald Trump over hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, multiple US media reported on March 30, 2023. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images
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AFP
Supporters of former US President Donald Trump protest near the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, on March 30, 2023. - A New York grand jury has voted to indict former US president Donald Trump over hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, multiple US media reported on March 30, 2023. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

In the days leading up to the expected indictment, Trump called on his supporters to protest. Many of his Republican allies, however, urged people not to protest after news of the indictment broke Thursday.

Video: A quick recap of what's at stake

Posted March 30, 2023 at 9:39 PM EDT

NPR political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro breaks down what we know about the indictment against former President Donald Trump — and notes this isn't even the most serious case Trump faces right now.

Here's a look at what we know -- and what we don't

Posted March 30, 2023 at 9:27 PM EDT
Police officers stand outside the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Thursday evening.
Yuki Iwamura
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FR171758 AP
Police officers stand outside the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Thursday evening.

If you're just joining us (or even if you, understandably, just need a quick and easy breakdown of a whirlwind day), we've got a quick and easy break down for you.

Here's what we know:

And here's what we don't know:

  • What kind of charges Trump will face
  • When those charges will be announced (several media outlets are reporting Trump will be arraigned on Tuesday. NPR has not been able to independently verify that account)
  • Whether Trump will surrender, as Bragg's office has requested
  • What a trial, conviction or sentencing could look like — this is really just the first step

Trump is reacting in real time on his Truth Social platform

Posted March 30, 2023 at 9:22 PM EDT

Former President Donald Trump is sharing supporters' statements and making his own denouncements on Truth Social, his own social media platform.

"They only brought this Fake, Corrupt, and Disgraceful Charge against me because I stand with the American People, and they know that I cannot get a fair trial in New York!" he writes in one post.

Truth Social launched about a year ago as an alternative to Twitter, which Trump had been banned from after the Capitol riot until November 2022.

Just In

DA Alvin Bragg has left the courthouse

Posted March 30, 2023 at 8:36 PM EDT

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was spotted leaving the courthouse about an hour ago, according to several reporters on the ground and photos published by multiple agencies.

Bragg tweeted out his office statement confirming the indictment earlier, but otherwise has not made any public comment since the news broke.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (L) leaves his office in New York on March 30, 2023.
Ed Jones
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AFP via Getty Images
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (L) leaves his office in New York on March 30, 2023.

Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen says 'no one is above the law'

Posted March 30, 2023 at 8:29 PM EDT

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and a key witness in the Manhattan district attorney’s case against Trump, says the indictment against the former president shows that "no one is above the law."

"I take no pride in issuing this statement and wish to also remind everyone of the presumption of innocence," Cohen said in a statement. "However, I do take solace in validating the adage that no one is above the law; not even a former President. Today’s indictment is not the end of this chapter; but rather, just the beginning. Now that the charges have been filed, it is better for the case to let the indictment speak for itself. The two things I wish to say at this time is that accountability matters and I stand by my testimony and the evidence I have provided to [the New York district attorney].”

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to campaign finance violations linked to the $130,000 payment made to keep Stormy Daniels quiet about Trump’s alleged extramarital affair with the porn star.

Trump faces 3 more investigations

Posted March 30, 2023 at 8:22 PM EDT

Amid all this news of the Manhattan indictment, it's worth remembering that Trump also faces scrutiny in other investigations that could lead to charges of their own:

1. The Georgia 2020 election interference investigation

A case led by the Fulton County district attorney's office centers on the actions of Trump and his allies in the weeks following the 2020 presidential election, as they pressured state officials to undo his loss in the state.

The office's work was finalized in early January, and a portion of its report was released last month, but a judge ruled that most of it should remain confidential, for now.

The district attorney has said decisions on indictments are "imminent." It's not clear whether Trump would be among those charged. Possible crimes for him or others could include soliciting election fraud, giving false statements to government bodies and racketeering.

2. The Justice Department's investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection

Jack Smith, pictured here at The Hague in Nov. 2020, now serves as the Department of Justice's special counsel and oversees two investigations into Donald Trump.
Peter Dejong
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AP
Jack Smith, pictured here in November 2020, now serves as the Justice Department's special counsel and oversees two investigations into Donald Trump.

Prosecutors have interviewed numerous Trump allies and aides for this investigation. They even subpoenaed former Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump pressured intensely to overturn the 2020 election results during the certification process on Jan. 6, 2021.

This investigation is ongoing. Not much is known about when charges, if any, would come.

3. The Justice Department's investigation into Trump's handling of classified documents

Special Counsel Jack Smith is investigating how Trump handled classified documents after his presidency ended.

Last June, a lawyer for Trump certified that a "diligent search" for classified documents had been conducted at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and that all documents found had been turned over to federal authorities. But two months later, an FBI search recovered more than 100 additional documents.

As with the other Justice Department investigation, this work is ongoing. Not much is known about when charges, if any, would come.

➡️ Read more about the investigations that Trump is facing.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida won't help extradite Trump (if it comes to that)

Posted March 30, 2023 at 8:14 PM EDT

NPR hasn't been able to independently confirm whether Donald Trump is still in Florida. Two reliable flight trackers haven't registered movement on his private plane since the 757 flew to West Palm Beach five days ago.

But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, took to Twitter after the news of the DA's request for Trump to surrender to say that his state would not help arrest and extradite the former president, should it come to that.

Though DeSantis has yet to announce his candidacy, he's widely considered to be a top 2024 Republican presidential contender — a threat to Trump's bid for reelection.

Earlier this month, DeSantis told reporters he wouldn't get involved in the spectacle "in any way."

“I have no interest in getting involved in some type of manufactured circus by some Soros DA,” he said, according to an account from POLITICO, making a reference to billionaire donor George Soros’ campaign donations. “He’s trying to do a political spectacle … I’ve got real issues I’ve got to deal with here in the state of Florida.”

What do Americans think of the grand jury investigation?

Posted March 30, 2023 at 8:10 PM EDT
Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives during a rally at the Waco Regional Airport on March 25, 2023 in Waco, Texas.
Brandon Bell
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Getty Images North America
Former President Donald Trump arrives during a rally at Waco Regional Airport on March 25 in Waco, Texas.

It's about as you'd expect: When it comes to whether the criminal investigations into Trump are fair, the American public is largely split along party lines.

A majority of Americans say the multiple investigates are fair, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. By a 56%-to-41% margin, respondents said the investigations are fair and not a "witch hunt."

But that varies by party affiliation: 9 in 10 Democrats say the investigations are fair, while 8 in 10 Republicans call them a witch hunt. A slim majority of independents call them fair, but they are closely split, 51% to 47%.

What's more, just 10% of Republicans think Trump did something illegal. They are more split when it comes to whether Trump did something unethical or nothing wrong — 45% say nothing wrong, and 43% say he has done something unethical but not illegal.

➡️Read more about how the country is feeling toward Trump.

Here's the latest on the GOP's counter investigation into the New York DA

Posted March 30, 2023 at 8:09 PM EDT
District Attorney Alvin Bragg shown speaking at a press conference in September 2022.
Alex Kent
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AFP via Getty Images
District Attorney Alvin Bragg shown speaking at a press conference in September 2022.

As rumors that the grand jury's investigation were swirling earlier this month, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., took to Twitter to blast the Manhattan DA's office, arguing that the allegations against former President Trump were so bogus that Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg Jr., was likely abusing his office and taxpayer dollars for political gain.

A trio of GOP House leaders sent Bragg a letter last week demanding documents, communications and testimony related to his investigation of the former president.

Bragg called the requests "an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution" designed to "punish" the office for its work. He offered instead to submit a letter detailing how the DA office uses federal funds.

In a third letter, the GOP leaders reiterated the need for a full slate of documents and set a Mar. 31 deadline for handing over the materials.

➡️Read the latest on the GOP's investigation into Bragg.

Trump predicted he'd be arrested — but he was off on the timing

Posted March 30, 2023 at 7:58 PM EDT

Wait, wasn't Trump supposed to get arrested Tuesday of last week?

Eh, not exactly. That was a rumor that started with the former president himself.

Trump posted the claim on his social media platform, Truth Social, on March 18, citing, "illegal leaks from a corrupt & highly political Manhattan District Attorneys Office."

He added that the arrest would be "based on an old & fully debunked (by numerous other prosecutors!) fairytale."

A man in a MAGA hat stands behind a barricade displaying a "Trump" flag
Ed Jones
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AFP via Getty Images
Donald Trump forecasted his arrest on Truth Social on March 18, inspiring a handful of his supporters to gather in front of Trump Tower in New York and Mar-a-Lago in Florida on March 20.

Trump's attorney Susan Necheles told NPR that Trump's speculation was "based on media reports" and implied Trump's legal team hadn't received advance notice of an impending indictment.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office declined to comment earlier this month on whether it would soon be pursuing an arrest warrant for Trump.

Several media outlets reported in mid-March that law enforcement officials in New York were making security preparations for an indictment, but they framed the timing of such an event as "in the coming weeks," as The Associated Press put it.

Just another reminder of how quickly this all is moving.

Can Trump still run for president?

Posted March 30, 2023 at 7:43 PM EDT

Yep. There's nothing in U.S. law that prevents a candidate charged with a crime — or even found guilty of one — from campaigning for office. And Trump has repeatedly indicated he'd charge ahead.

An arrest would undoubtedly complicate the physical business of campaigning, removing him from the trail at a time when other conservative candidates are considering a challenge.

But narratively, Trump has already turned the frenzy over a possible indictment into fodder for his overarching message of political martyrdom, creating a clear us-vs.-them line for his competitors to dare to cross.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been widely considered a top Republican presidential contender, walked that line like a tightrope when weighing in on the investigation last week.

"I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over an alleged affair. I can't speak to that," he said, sparking laughter in the room.

But he later added: "The real victims are ordinary Americans, ordinary New Yorkers. They get victimized every day because of the reckless political agenda of these [George] Soros [-funded] DAs."

➡️ Read more about the complications of running (and winning) while facing charges.

RNC calls Trump's indictment a 'blatant abuse of power'

Posted March 30, 2023 at 7:35 PM EDT

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called the indictment a "blatant abuse of power from a DA focused on political vengeance."

In a tweet shortly after the indictment was announced, McDaniel took to Twitter to defend former President Donald Trump.

"When our justice system is weaponized as a political tool, it endangers all of us," she tweeted.

Some of Trump's key allies urged his supporters not to protest

Posted March 30, 2023 at 7:33 PM EDT

Despite Trump's calls for protest, prominent Republicans, including some of his key allies, are urging the opposite. In some cases, they're dismissing the idea of protest altogether as a waste of time or, worse, a trap.

Speaking at a Republican Party retreat on March 19, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he wants everyone to stay calm.

"I don't think people should protest this, no. And I think President Trump, if you talk to him, he doesn't believe that either," McCarthy said, according to NBC News.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., a reliable soothsayer for conservative sentiment, said on Twitter that Trump's supporters don't need to demonstrate because they could take revenge at the 2024 ballot box.

Ali Alexander and Alex Jones, two conspiracy theorists who organized the Stop the Steal movement, tweeted in mid-March that Trump supporters would be arrested if they showed up in Manhattan to protest.

"You have no liberty or rights there,” Alexander tweeted.

To be clear: McCarthy, Alexander and other Republicans are still giving Trump a full-throated defense, dismissing the investigation as politically motivated.

But their hesitancy to show up in person raises questions about whether Trump still has the power to mobilize his supporters, especially in the wake of hundreds of arrests in connection to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.

Trump has been asked to surrender to the Manhattan DA's office

Posted March 30, 2023 at 7:30 PM EDT

A spokesperson for District Attorney Alvin Bragg just issued this statement:

"This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal. Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”

We'll bring you more on this as we have it. Stay tuned.

Just In

Republicans are condemning the decision

Posted March 30, 2023 at 7:26 PM EDT

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted: “Alvin Bragg has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election. … The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.”

House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, issued a one-word statement in response to reports of the former president’s indictment, saying, ”Outrageous.”

Earlier this month, Jordan, along with House Oversight Committee Chair Jim Comer, R-Ky., and House Administration Committee Chair Bryan Steil, R-Wis., sent Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg a letter demanding documents, communications and testimony related to his investigation of the former president.

Bragg’s office responded calling Republican requests for its documents and testimony "an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution."

Democrats, meanwhile, responded by saying that no one is above law.

“As we see this process unfold, I hope Americans can find faith in our judicial system and take heart in knowing justice benefits us all,” said Colorado Rep. Jason Crow, a former impeachment manager.

Stormy Daniels weighs in

Posted March 30, 2023 at 7:16 PM EDT

Clark Brewster, the lawyer for the adult film star whose story started it all, remarked on the indictment on Twitter, saying it “is no cause for joy.”

“The hard work and conscientiousness of the grand jurors must be respected,” he tweeted. “Now let truth and justice prevail. No one is above the law.”

Stormy Daniels responded with a simple phrase: "Thank you."

Just In

What we know about protests

Posted March 30, 2023 at 7:13 PM EDT

Since first forecasting his arrest in mid-March, Trump has taken to Truth Social several times to ask his supporters to protest.

"We just can't allow this anymore," he wrote on March 18. "They're killing our nation as we sit back and watch."

The rhetoric struck an ominous echo of Trump's words ahead of the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has signaled that he takes the threats seriously. As first reported by Politico, the district attorney sent an internal memo to staff members after Trump's initial protest calls, assuring his colleagues that their safety was his first priority.

The next morning, reporters spotted New York police placing metal barricades around the perimeter of the Manhattan criminal court. The barricades are still up, according to photos and social media posts from the scene.

A worker unloads a metal barricade from a police truck.
Michael M. Santiago
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Getty Images
New York police drop off metal barricades in front of Manhattan's criminal court on Monday, ahead of the grand jury vote on whether to indict the former president.

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Trump calls indictment vote 'political persecution'

Posted March 30, 2023 at 7:10 PM EDT

Former president Donald Trump dismissed the Manhattan grand jury’s vote to indict him as “political persecution” and “election interference,” in a statement on Thursday.

He blamed the “Radical Left Democrats” for targeting him from the start of his political career, and framed the grand jury vote as the latest effort in what he sees as a conspiracy to punish him politically ahead of the 2024 election.

“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,” the statement from his website reads.

“Never before in our Nation’s history has this been done. The Democrats have cheated countless times over the decades, including spying on my campaign, but weaponizing our justice system to punish a political opponent, who just so happens to be a President of the United States and by far the leading Republican candidate for President, has never happened before. Ever," he continued. "I believe this Witch-Hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden."

Context

What, exactly, is an indictment, and is it the same as being charged with a crime?

Posted March 30, 2023 at 7:02 PM EDT
Security barricades are set up near Manhattan Criminal Court March 27, 2023 in New York City.
Drew Angerer
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Getty Images North America
Security barricades are set up near Manhattan's criminal court on March 27 in New York City.

Since the updates might be coming at you fast today, let's take a minute to make sure we're clear about what's what.

Here are four terms to know and how each relates to Trump:

Indicted — An indictment isn't quite the same as being charged with a crime. For starters, an indictment comes from a grand jury and not from a prosecutor.

After reviewing the district attorney's investigation in private, a grand jury has decided there's probable cause that Trump has committed a crime. It doesn't mean the jury found Trump guilty of anything.

Charged — In contrast, charging someone with a crime is the first tangible step in moving toward a public trial.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has not announced charges against Trump.

Arrested — To be arrested means to be taken into legal custody. Again, it doesn't mean someone is guilty of anything, but it's usually a necessary step to ensure defendants appear in court to kick off proceedings.

Two scenarios could play out here. Trump could voluntarily surrender to the district attorney's office in Lower Manhattan, where he'd be fingerprinted. Or he could make things more complicated and refuse to turn himself in, which would make for the more traditional handcuffs-type moment you might be picturing.

At the moment, Trump is in Florida, at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Arraigned An arraignment is when someone is brought before the court so a judge can read out the criminal charges the person is facing.

It's unclear when Trump's arraignment will take place.

A simple guide to the allegations against Trump

Posted March 30, 2023 at 6:54 PM EDT

Today's indictment stems from the probe led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Bragg's office is examining whether Trump broke state laws in paying hush money to adult film star Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels.

The criminal case is related to money that Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, paid to Stormy Daniels in exchange for her not going public with allegations she had an affair with Trump.

At the time of the 2016 payment, Election Day was less than two weeks away.

Trump has denied having had an affair with Daniels, though he has admitted reimbursing Cohen for money paid to her.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen testified before the Manhattan grand jury earlier this month.
Yuki Iwamura
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AFP via Getty Images
Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen testified before the Manhattan grand jury earlier this month.

Trump is implicated, prosecutors say, because he reimbursed Cohen for what were designated as "retainer fees," even though the money actually went to reimburse Cohen for $130,000 paid to Daniels and other expenses.

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to numerous federal charges, including making illegal campaign contributions in the form of buying women's silence about their alleged relationships with Trump.

In his plea, Cohen outlined the arrangement: In the final month of the 2016 presidential campaign, he paid $130,000 to silence Daniels, who claimed she had an affair with Trump.

Cohen got the money from a home equity line of credit. He arranged to be reimbursed over the course of the next year by Trump.

The monthly checks, totaling $420,000, were identified as a "retainer" payment for Cohen. Some came from the Trump trust, but others were signed by Trump himself, from what Cohen said was his personal account.

Just In

Donald Trump has been indicted by a grand jury

Posted March 30, 2023 at 6:43 PM EDT

A New York grand jury has voted to indict Donald Trump, multiple sources close to the former president confirmed to NPR.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr.'s office has not yet shared specific charges.

The criminal case is related to money Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, paid to the adult film actor known as Stormy Daniels, in exchange for her not going public with allegations she had an affair with Trump.

Trump is implicated, prosecutors say, because he reimbursed Cohen for what were designated as "retainer fees," even though the money actually went to reimburse Cohen for $130,000 paid to Daniels and other expenses.

Stay tuned for updates.