Live updates: Trump blasts the 34 felony charges he's facing
Former President Donald Trump remained defiant in a Mar-a-Lago speech after pleading not guilty to 34 felony counts. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleges Trump falsified business records in order hide damaging information from voters in 2016.
Here's what we're following:
- Charges: The official indictment alleges Trump falsified records with "intent to commit another crime."
- Politics: District Attorney Alvin Bragg defended the investigation, saying "these are felony crimes in New York State no matter who you are."
- Defense: Trump said the multiple ongoing criminal investigations against him, including the charges announced Tuesday, are politically motivated.
What to watch for next
We've wrapped live coverage for the night, but we'll be bringing you more in the days (and months) ahead.
- 🎧 Find our recaps of the historic indictment and what it means on The NPR Politics Podcast and on NPR.org.
- 📝Subscribe to our Up First morning newsletter and the NPR Politics weekly newsletter.
Legal next steps: The next court date in the case is scheduled for Dec. 4, with a trial possible next year in the thick of 2024 presidential primaries. And as we've noted, there are three other criminal investigations ongoing aside from the hush money case, which could bring indictments of their own.
And that's all from Trump
The former president wrapped after just about 25 minutes, which is on the shorter side of his typical stump speech. He shook hands with supporters as he left the stage but did not appear as ebullient as he has at other campaign events. He does not appear to be sticking around at the event any longer than he needs to.
Trump attacks Bragg despite Judge Merchan's warnings
After talking about other investigations against him, Trump turned to the 34 felony charges he's facing in Manhattan.
He says a "local, failed district attorney" has delivered a case that "virtually every legal pundit" has said is too weak to stand.
Bragg should be prosecuted or resign for leaking grand jury evidence, Trump said, in apparent reference to media reports last week that broke the story on the felony charges before they were unsealed. Trump himself posted on social media about an impending arrest before any media outlets were able to confirm details of what was in the indictment.
He also personally attacked Judge Juan Merchan and Merchan's family, saying they were "Trump-hating" people.
Just a few hours ago, Merchan issued a sharp warning to "counsel on both sides" of the case, asking them to avoid using language that is "likely to incite violence or civil unrest," according to an NPR reporter in the courtroom.
Trump revisits another criminal investigation and false voter fraud claims
The former president doubled down on his claims that Democrats have been conducting “fraudulent investigations." His remarks included unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud
In particular, Trump addressed a criminal investigation in Georgia, which is looking at his role in pressuring elections officials after the 2020 presidential election he lost.
“Nobody said ‘sir you shouldn’t say that,’ many people on the phone, or hung up in disgust because of something I inappropriately said,” he said in reference to a call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021, in which he instructed the Republican Raffensperger to "find 11,780 votes."
Trump claims that this case was only brought up to interfere with his 2024 election run “and it should be dropped immediately.”
The inquiry has also examined efforts to send slates of fake electors to the Electoral College to say that Trump won, rather than Joe Biden.
Trump dismisses the other investigations he's facing
Parts of this speech are resembling Trump's typical stump speech. He's commented on the economy, on China, on drug polices, on his success as a businessman.
But the main narrative he's using to weave those topics together is a familiar litany of complaints by the former president about the perceived injustices perpetrated against him.
Seeking to contrast his own treatment at the hands of the FBI, he repeated claims about the contents of the laptop owned by Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son, which has been the subject of a law enforcement and congressional investigations and conservative media scrutiny. Trump suggested the laptop hadn’t been subject to the same type of investigation as he was.
Trump has also touched on the three additional investigations he's facing, dismissing each as an act of political weaponry at the hand of Democrats.
➡️Read more about what's behind those investigations.
Trump says he hasn't committed any crimes
"We have to save our country. God bless you all," Trump said to a crowd that'd just chanted "USA, USA" as he took the stage.
"I never thought anything like this would happen in America," he continued. "The only crime I have committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it."
He then recounted some of the various scandals he's faced throughout his political career, including the Mueller investigation, two impeachment cases and his handling of classified documents.
The former president then transition into false claims of election fraud — doubling down on a narrative of political martyrdom that's defined his 2024 campaign so far.
Trump takes the stage in what is very much his home turf
After a bruising day, Trump is now taking the stage in the same spot where he announced his third bid for presidency.
Three of his children — Tiffany, Eric and Don Jr. — are in the ballroom. Two right-wing congressional leaders, Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, are also visible in the audience, as is Roger Stone, the adviser who's encouraged Trump's political ambitions from the get-go.
The NPR Politics Podcast talks about the 34 counts Trump faces
Catch up on today's events with a 15-minute recap and analysis from NPR's Andrea Bernstein, Tamara Keith, Domenico Montanaro and Carrie Johnson on NPR's Politics Podcast.
The Manhattan District Attorney's Office alleges that Trump falsified business records in an effort to conceal scandal from surfacing in the final months of the 2016 presidential election.
Trump traveled from his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida to New York City where he pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. Crowds of his supporters peacefully faced off with opposition who celebrated the former president's indictment.
He has since returned to Florida and will give a televised statement.
Here's what you need to know about the case against Trump.
Trump is set to speak momentarily
The song "Real American" is blasting in the Mar-a-Lago ballroom as a crowd of Trump's supporters wait for him to take a stage decked out in flags.
Looking for a livestream link? We'll be bringing you summaries of Trump's remarks on this page but won't be using a livestream this time. Here's a handy link toPBS's livestream on YouTube if you're eager to follow along.
As Trump prepares to take the stage, campaign touts fundraising levels
Former President Donald Trump is expected to take the stage in Mar-a-Lago this evening for his public address after being indicted and arraigned — and pleading not guilty — in Manhattan earlier this afternoon.
The Trump campaign has continued to utilize the indictment to push its 2024 fundraising. As of Monday afternoon, according to Trump adviser Jason Miller, the campaign has raised $10 million.
The former president’s team has claimed that more than 25% of the contributions came from first-time donors.
To Trump's messaging, a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday found that two-thirds of all respondents think that the charges in New York are not that serious and 6 in 10 say the investigation is politically motivated.
As NPR has previously reported, by most accounts, the other three criminal investigations — two federal and one out of Georgia — are likely to put Trump in far more potential political peril than the New York case.
A crowd is gathered at Mar-a-Lago
Trump adviser Jason Miller tweeted out this image of the room where the former president is set to speak:
Wire images from the event also show MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is among the crowd. The businessman is a prominent Trump supporter and facing a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion says Lindell spread false information that its voting machines were rigged in the 2020 presidential election.
The media was also there in force.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg is 'decisive' and 'clear-eyed,' says his former colleague
District Attorney Alvin Bragg has made some history. He was the first Black person to serve as Manhattan's DA. And today, he became the first prosecutor to press charges against a former president.
A former colleague, Peter Skinner, says Bragg's background and demeanor make him uniquely suited to dothe job of prosecuting Trump, and do it well.
Bragg has worked for most of his career as a prosecutorial leader, but served as a defense lawyer early on in his career, gaining valuable perspective, Skinner told All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly.
"He's decisive, he's clear-eyed in a difficult situation," Skinner said. "I am happy he's the one there, making these decisions. The man who I know would be very careful and deliberate about making these decisions, would do them for the right reasons."
When asked if he had any advice for Bragg, Skinner kept it simple: "Do the right thing," he said.
🎧Listen to the full interview with Peter Skinner on All Things Considered.
Trump has landed back in Florida
Trump's private plane has arrived back at Palm Beach International Airport ahead of his remarks to supporters this evening.
Trump is expected to speak around 8:15 p.m. ET, and if his Truth Social posts are any indication, he'll dismiss the historic charges he's facing as an act of political weaponization.
"We've seen this show before with Trump. He's been impeached twice. It didn't really change anything. Not much moves the needle when it comes to Trump's base, and he's trying to capitalize here," Montanaro said.
Could this case impact the other investigations into Trump?
Trump has come out on top of more than a handful of investigations in recent years, but none of those resulted in criminal charges or an arrest.
Today's charges may just be the beginning. NPR's Justice Correspondent Carrie Johnson said on All Things Considered that legal experts expected the Manhattan DA case to be "potentially the weakest" of the four investigations Trump is currently facing.
In Georgia's Fulton County,prosecutors are examining Trump's role in pressuring local officials to falsely overturn the 2020 election results.
And just before today's hearing in New York, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., allowed a Department of Justice investigation into Trump to proceed. The court ruled that Special Counsel Jack Smith can question top Trump aides on his actions in Jan. 6 and handling of classified documents, Johnson reports.
➡️Read more about the other investigations into Trump.
When will the case head to trial?
It could be a while until the trial actually gets underway.
Judge Juan Merchan set the next in-person court date for Dec. 4. The prosecution is pushing for opening arguments to begin sometime in January 2024, but Trump's defense asked for a few more months, maybe sometime in spring 2024.
That's right in the heart of primary season, which could complicate the former president's reelection bid.
NPR's Justice Correspondent Carrie Johnson told All Things Considered that the next steps include: 1) discovery, in which the district attorney's office would share evidence and files with the defense 2) motions.
"The former president has already signaled on social media he may want to switch the venue from Manhattan to somewhere like Staten Island, which may be more favorable to him," Johnson said.
Trump says Manhattan DA has 'no case'
Former President Donald Trump took to his social media platform Truth Social around 5:30 p.m. ET to assure his supporters that his prosecutors have no case against him.
In the post, he told his supporters, "The hearing was shocking to many in that they had no 'surprises,' and therefore, no case."
Earlier today, the ex-president pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. He swiftly left the courthouse, jumped in his motorcade and then boarded his plane bound for Florida.
Trump also reminded his followers that he will indeed give a statement at 8:15 tonight from his Mar-a-Lago home, where he'll likely deliver similar remarks.
"Virtually every legal pundit has said that there is no case here," Trump said. "There was nothing done illegally!"
Republican lawmakers continue to paint the case against Trump as an unjust overreach
Across the GOP, both Trump allies and critics are responding to the news of his charges by upholding what's become the Republican party line on this case. By charging Trump, the District Attorney is abusing his power, the Republicans say.
"I believe President Trump’s character and conduct make him unfit for office," said Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah., in a statement. "Even so, I believe the New York prosecutor has stretched to reach felony criminal charges in order to fit a political agenda."
"No one is above the law," Romney said, but added: "The prosecutor’s overreach sets a dangerous precedent for criminalizing political opponents and damages the public’s faith in our justice system."
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York, said Bragg should answer to the "illegal weaponization of his office."
Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, echoed the sentiment in a tweet, implying Trump had been singled out because of his re-election bid.
Equal justice under the law, unless you’re a Republican running for president.— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) April 4, 2023
Jordan is one of three Republican lawmakers pressuring Bragg to turn over documents and testimony as part of a larger inquiry into local prosecutors.
In his own response to the charges, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Bragg's "weaponization of the federal justice process" would be held accountable by congress.
Alvin Bragg is attempting to interfere in our democratic process by invoking federal law to bring politicized charges against President Trump, admittedly using federal funds, while at the same time arguing that the peoples’ representatives in Congress lack jurisdiction to…— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) April 4, 2023
Not just Stormy Daniels: Prosecutors cite two other 'catch and kill' instances
The Manhattan prosecutors' case rests on the idea that Trump regularly employed a "catch and kill" scheme to bury negative information about him as a way to boost his chances in the 2016 presidential election — and then falsifying business records to cover his tracks.
On Tuesday, prosecutors cited three occasions in which they say Trump "orchestrated" such a scheme with executives at American Media Inc., the company that publishes the National Enquirer. All three took place after Trump announced his candidacy for president in June of 2015.
The first instance came that fall, when AMI paid $30,000 to a former Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have a story about a child that Trump had allegedly fathered outside of his marriage. Even as the magazine concluded that the story was not true, executives agreed not to release the doorman from the agreement until after the election, prosecutors say, and the payment was "falsely characterized" in AMI's books and records.
The second "catch and kill" took place in June of 2016 when Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate, alleged that she had an affair with Trump while he was married. Trump, Cohen and AMI's CEO David Pecker "had a series of discussions about who should pay off [MacDougal] to secure her silence," prosecutors say. Ultimately, AMI paid her $150,000 "on the understanding" from Cohen that Trump or his business would reimburse the publisher. (On the advice of AMI's general counsel, that reimbursement never took place.)
The final "catch and kill" was, of course, the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels in October 2016, just before the election, to suppress her allegations of an affair at a celebrity golf tournament in 2006. You can read more about that here.
Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts alleging that he falsified business records — and has denied the affairs.
This case stems from former Trump attorney Michael Cohen's 2018 guilty plea
The case against Trump stems from a 2018 guilty plea by Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney. Cohen said that in 2016, he paid $130,000 to silence porn star Stormy 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.
Falsifying business records could be a felony under New York law, if it was done in furtherance of another crime, such as a campaign finance violation. Cohen said he even discussed the checks with Trump inside the White House.
Trump and his allies have questioned Cohen's credibility.
➡️Read more about the background of this case.
Bragg defends his decision to bring charges against Trump after others declined to do so
Bragg and his team of prosecutors were not the first to investigate Trump's hush money payment to Stormy Daniels and the scheme to reimburse Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen. But they are the first to charge the former president with a crime.
Since The Wall Street Journal first broke the story of the hush money payments in 2018, numerous investigations had resulted in no criminal charges for Trump, including the federal prosecutors who charged Cohen with tax evasion and campaign finance violations in 2018.
Bragg's predecessor as Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., also had declined to prosecute Trump before leaving office at the end of 2021.
"The investigation, in my view, was not concluded," Bragg told reporters Tuesday. "Since that time, we've had more evidence made available to the office and the opportunity to meet with additional witnesses."
“I’ve been doing this for 24 years and am no stranger to rigorous, complex investigations. I bring cases when they’re ready," he said. "Having now conducted a rigorous, thorough investigation, the case was ready to be brought, and it was brought."
Bragg says Trump hid 'damaging information from the voting public'
At a news conference shortly after Donald Trump's court hearing, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg explained why the former president is facing 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. Under state law, Bragg said it is a felony to falsify business records “with intent to defraud and conceal another crime.”
“That is exactly what this case is about: 34 false statements made to cover up other crimes. These are felony crimes in New York State no matter who you are,” Bragg told reporters in New York. “We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct.”
Bragg said Trump “repeatedly made false statements on New York business records” in order to “hide damaging information from the voting public” and that he was covering crimes related to the 2016 presidential election.
Specifically, Bragg is making the case that Trump and his team bought and suppressed negative information in order to help him win the election — including three payments to people who claimed to have negative information about the then-candidate. This includes a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels.
Bragg said this also includes payments made to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, allegedly falsely claiming that he was being paid for legal services.
“At its core, this case today is one with allegations like so many of our white collar cases, allegations that someone lied again and again, to protect their interests and evade the laws to which we are all held accountable,” Bragg said. “We today uphold our solemn responsibility to ensure that everyone stands equal before the law. No amount of money, no matter power, changes that enduring American principle.”
Trump's felony charges hinge on the intent to commit or conceal other crimes
Under New York state law, the falsification of a business record is only a felony if it was done with the intent to conceal or commit another crime.
In a press conference held after Trump's appearance in court on Tuesday afternoon, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg clarified what prosecutors view as two possible other crimes in the Trump case.
First is New York state election law, "which makes it a crime to conspire to promote a candidacy by unlawful means," Bragg said. In this case, that "could include" false statements, like the misrepresentation to tax authorities of the payments to Michael Cohen.
Second is federal election law, which caps the amount that can be donated to candidates in federal elections.
The indictment does not specify these other crimes. Bragg said he views New York state law as not requiring prosecutors to do so.
Trump is headed back to Florida
The former president went straight to New York's LaGuardia Airport from the courthouse. His private plane, nicknamed Trump Force One, is back in the air, just starting the three-hour flight to Palm Beach International Airport in Florida.
Trump hasn't stopped to address the media at any point during his historic travel today, but did post on his social media platform, Truth Social, throughout the morning.
He's scheduled to deliver an address to his supporters from Mar-a-Lago this evening shortly after 8 p.m. ET.
DA Bragg is speaking now
For anyone trying to watch the livestream on this page: We're having some technical difficulties. Bear with us as we try to fix that link.
In the meantime, you can catch the press conference on a PBS livestream here.
DA says Trump engaged in a 'catch and kill' scheme, violating state and federal election laws
District Attorney Alvin Bragg just shared a press release that details more information on the charges.
Trump was indicted for "falsifying New York business records in order to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election," the release reads.
"During the election, Trump and others employed a 'catch and kill' scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects," it adds.
The DA says that Trump then tried to conceal this conduct, "causing dozens of false entries in business records to conceal criminal activity, including attempts to violate state and federal election laws."
“Manhattan is home to the country’s most significant business market," Bragg is quoted as saying. "We cannot allow New York businesses to manipulate their records to cover up criminal conduct."
Trump's attorneys say the case 'shows that the rule of law died in this country'
Trump’s lawyers spoke to the press after the former president left the courthouse. One of his attorneys, Todd Blanche, told reporters that the judge did not order Trump to refrain from using language to incite violence or civil unrest.
“He requested that everybody involved refrain from using language,” Blanche said.
When a reporter asked about Trump posting a photo of him taking a baseball bat to the head of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, another one of Trump’s attorneys, Joe Tacopina, said that was a manipulated image and the press was “distorting the facts.”
“That was a picture of him showing off an American-made bat,” Tacopina said. “Someone else put the picture of the district attorney next to him.”
Tacopina went on to say: “Today's unsealing of this indictment shows that the rule of law died in this country. Because while everyone is not above the law, no one's below it either. And if this man's name was not Donald J. Trump, there was no scenario we'd all be here today."
The judge bars prosecutors from releasing related evidence
Though Judge Juan Merchan agreed not to impose a gag order on the case, he did rule that the prosecution would not be allowed to release any evidence related to the case.
"The people are not asking for a gag order," the judge said.
But in a moment that set the stakes for this trial, he told "counsel on both sides" to avoid using language that is "likely to incite violence or civil unrest."
Here are the 34 records that Trump is alleged to have falsified
The unsealed indictment includes 34 counts of falsifying business records with “intent to commit another crime and aid and conceal the commission thereof." That's a Class E felony — the lowest level of felony — in the state of New York.
Those records include:
- Eleven invoices from Michael Cohen, once per month from February through December of 2017
- Three entries in the general ledger for the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust
- Two checks and accompanying stub from the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, with dates that correspond to the first two Cohen invoices
- Nine checks and accompanying stubs from Trump’s personal account, with dates that correspond to latter Cohen invoices
- Nine entries in the general ledger for Donald J. Trump’s personal account
Each check was processed by the Trump Organization and disguised as a monthly payment for legal services under a retainer agreement, prosecutors say. "In truth, there was no retainer agreement," the statement of fact reads.
Read the indictment and the statement of facts.
Here's what we learned in the hearing
Judge Juan Merchan was asked a few procedural issues throughout the hearing. Here's what we learned:
- Bail: Trump did not have to post bail to remain out of custody.
- Trial timing: The prosecution said it hoped to have trial in January 2024. Defense asked for spring of 2024.
- Gag order: "The people are not asking for a gag order," the judge said in clarifying he wouldn't impose one at the time.
Here's what it looked like on the ground in New York for Trump's indictment day
Former President Donald Trump pulled up to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday afternoon amid a sea of supporters and protesters alike.
Law enforcement was in full force, having placed barricades around the court building for crowd control. Signs calling for Trump’s arrest clashed against others cursing President Biden, and others read “Trump or Death.”
When Trump arrived at the courthouse, he looked at the cameras and waved as he entered the building.
Protesters from both sides appear to have remained peaceful, despite loud exchanges mere feet away from one another.
Some of his political allies, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and New York Rep. George Santos, both Republicans, showed up to support the former president.
Trump left the courthouse at approximately 3:30 p.m. and began his trip back to his home in Florida.
Trump uses a fake mug shot to promote his 2024 run
The Trump 2024 campaign is using a T-shirt with a fake mug shot to promote contributions to the campaign. Emails promoting a “free shirt with a $47 contribution,” a nod at the next president being the 47th.
The former president has been using the indictment and ongoing investigations as a way to rally his base under traditional claims that this is a “witch hunt” against him.
As NPR has previously reported, aNPR/PBS News Hour/Marist pollshowed 8 in 10 Republicans agree with Trump and call the investigations a "witch hunt." But broadly speaking, voters including Republicans, appear to be leaning against him for a primary. Per the poll 6 in 10 don't want Trump to be president again, including two-thirds of independents.
Donald Trump has been charged with 34 felony counts
The official indictment— People of the State of New York against Donald J. Trump, Indictment No. 71543-23 — has been unsealed.
Trump has been charged with 34 felony counts.
We'll have more information on what these charges mean shortly. Stay tuned.
Trump is expected to head back to Florida
Trump left the courthouse at 3:25 p.m. ET, just under an hour after he entered.
He joined his motorcade in a black SUV, and is expected to head to the airport shortly for a flight back to West Palm Beach, Fla., where he'll speak to his supporters sometime this evening.
It's quite a sight to see Trump's motorcade moving along closed streets in one of America's busiest cities.
Trump has exited the courtroom
The former president left without answering any questions shouted at him by reporters.
Stand by for updates on what happened inside the hearing room.
DA Bragg will speak shortly after this hearing. Don't go too far
We're still waiting for definitive word on the contents of the indictments, including which charges Trump is facing.
A quick reminder that the prosecutor on this case, District Attorney Alvin Bragg, will speak to reporters immediately following the arraignment hearing. This will be the first time Bragg holds a press conference on the case.
Looking to watch along? We've added a livestream to the top of this page. Those of you who've been following along for a while may need to hit refresh in order to see it.
➡️Read more about Bragg's history-making career.
We're still waiting on the charges — stick with us
We're hearing reports that the official indictment has been unsealed and Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty.
NPR has not been able to verify these accounts. Our reporter in the courtroom is not allowed to access her phone or computer.
We'll bring you updates as soon as we have them — stick with us.
Here's what it looks like inside the courtroom as Trump is arraigned
As the court hearing continues, here's a first glimpse at the former president as he sits alongside his defense team in the Manhattan courtroom.
Sitting alongside Trump are his four attorneys, pictured above from left to right:
- Todd Blanche, a former federal prosecutor and prominent white-collar crime lawyer
- Susan Necheles, a corporate law and regulatory specialist
- Joe Tacopina, a high-profile celebrity defense attorney
- Boris Epshteyn, a longtime Republican political adviser who is helping defend Trump
The last time a president was arrested was 150 years ago, for speeding
Former President Donald Trump may be the first president facing criminal charges, but he's not the first to be arrested.
That title belongs to President Ulysses S. Grant, who was arrested in 1872, just after the Civil War.
Grant liked to go fast. Unfortunately for him — a sitting president — a series of accidents in the nation's capital had the police on the lookout for speedy horse-drawn carriages.
One day, William West, a former enslaved person who joined the Metropolitan Police after fighting in the Civil War, pulled over a speeding carriage only to quickly realize it was the president.
Click here to read about how the arrest unfolded.
Anndddd the hearing is getting underway
Former President Donald Trump was processed in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on the 7th floor of the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse and then was escorted up the 15th floor courtroom for his arraignment, which had been scheduled for 2:15 p.m.
A pool camera set up in the hallway outside the courtroom showed it filled with law enforcement personnel. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg entered the courtroom at 2:10 p.m.
Trump arrived around 2:30, unhandcuffed. He ignored the questions reporters shouted at him and looked ahead.
What happens next? Unfortunately, it's going to be a bit of a waiting game. NPR has a reporter in the room, but she's not able to use her phone or computer. Still photographers were asked to leave shortly after Trump arrived.
Trump attacks Judge Merchan and others in his recent social posts
The former president has shared his thoughts on the trial over his social media website, Truth Social. This morning, Trump went after the judge, Juan Merchan, in his posts, attacked "radical left Democrats" and criticized his former attorney general, Bill Barr.
"The highly partisan judge & his family are well known Trump haters," Trump posted, in all capital letters. He called Merchan an "unfair disaster."
It appears Trump may have been watching Fox News this morning, as he posted asking why the network kept having Barr on as a guest. He called Barr, Karl Rove and former House Speaker Paul Ryan RINOs, or Republicans-in-name-only.
Trump is in the building. Now what?
Trump is inside the courthouse, getting processed before appearing in front of Judge Juan Merchan to hear the charges against him and enter a plea.
At that point the charges against the former president will be revealed. But the public won't be able to see all of that happen for themselves, since the judge has rejected media outlets' request to have TV cameras inside the courtroom.
The judge has permitted video cameras in the hallway, and is letting five pool photographers take still photos before the arraignment begins.
New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg will hold a news conference after the arraignment.
Bragg's press conference is scheduled to take place at 3:30 p.m. ET at the Supreme Civil Court, next to the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse where Trump surrendered to authorities.
White House declines to comment on Trump's investigations
Speaking at a briefing just now, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said she wouldn't comment on any ongoing investigations into Donald Trump.
"It's not our focus." she said, when asked by a reporter. "Our focus right now is on the American people."
On whether there are credible threats of protests, Jean-Pierre said she wouldn't get into "hypotheticals" but said the administration is "prepared."
Here's what Trump posted en route to court
Trump didn't appear to say anything while getting in his car at Trump Tower and out at the courthouse, but he did share some thoughts on social media in between.
He posted on Truth Social just before 1:30 p.m. ET, writing:
"Heading to Lower Manhattan, the Courthouse. Seems so SURREAL — WOW, they are going to ARREST ME. Can’t believe this is happening in America. MAGA!"
Trump is now in the courthouse
Trump is in the building.
The former president's motorcade arrived at the Manhattan Criminal Court just before 1:30 p.m. ET, less than half an hour after it departed from Trump Tower.
Surrounded by security and Secret Service personnel, he got out of a black SUV and waved briefly at the reporters standing outside. He walked away from them and into the building, where he will surrender to authorities.
Trump will be processed in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and then head to his 2:15 p.m. arraignment hearing before the presiding judge in the case, Juan Merchan.
In January, the same judge also sentenced longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg to five months behind bars for financial crimes he committed while working as a top executive for Trump’s businesses.
Trump is then expected to fly home to Florida and make remarks from Mar-a-Lago this evening.
Trump is on his way to the courthouse
Former President Donald Trump is en route to the Manhattan Criminal Court for his processing and arraignment, which is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. ET.
Shortly after 1 p.m., television cameras showed him walking out of Trump Tower — where he stayed overnight — and into a car. He did not appear to speak.
A motorcade of black SUVs, accompanied by multiple police cars and at least one ambulance, is now making the nearly 4-mile journey to the courthouse in Midtown. Many of the streets nearby have been blocked off for this very reason.
Marjorie Taylor Greene didn't stay long at her own rally
Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene headlined a pro-Trump rally outside the Manhattan courthouse hours ahead his expected arraignment — but it didn't last long.
"I’m here in NY to protest with my voice against the weaponization of the justice system on innocent President Trump, but the counter protestors are coming to commit assault that can cause audible damage to everyone’s ears including NYPD," the Republican lawmaker tweetedjust after 8 a.m. ET, two hours before the event's planned start time.
Journalists on the scene — who reportedly outnumbered protesters by a large margin — say Greene's remarks were brief and barely audible because of the crowd.
Greene spoke to the crowd through a small handheld megaphone and was whisked away by security after a few minutes, NBC New York reports.
Eyewitnesses told NPR's Quil Lawrence that Greene's megaphone didn't work.
Social media videos from the scene show Greene being swarmed by reporters, protesters and supporters as police and security personnel hustled her to a waiting car.
The New York Timesreports that Greene lambasted Democrats as "communists" and "failures" before rattling off some of her party's positions, including: "We’re the party that wants to protect the lives of the unborn, we’re the party of male and female, two genders only."
But her remarks were essentially drowned out by the crowd of pro- and anti-Trump supporters, with drums, whistles, chants and heckles.
NBC News reporter Ben Collins, who was tweeting from the scene, said part of the reason for the noise was that a man had been handing out free whistles.
The man told Collins he was a Trump supporter and there to make noise — it's not clear he knew whose speech he was helping drown out.
Kind of a fascinating development. The reason you can’t hear Marjorie Taylor Greene, and why this whole thing is off the rails, is because a man has been handing out free whistles.— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) April 4, 2023
I talked to him. Turns out he’s a Trump supporter and he had no idea MTG was even here. pic.twitter.com/0RJqdyw7H5
Trump sees these investigation as witch hunts, but most Americans disagree
Today's arraignment is the result of one of several investigations facing Trump — he also faces an election interference probe in Georgia and a pair of federal investigations into his actions around Jan. 6 and handling of classified documents.
Trump has railed against these investigations, dismissing them as politically motivated and "prosecutorial misconduct."
But a majority of Americans disagree, 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."
As NPR's Domenico Montanaro writes:
"There's a huge partisan divide — 9 in 10 Democrats say they 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%.
Those most likely to say the investigations are fair are those in the Gen Z and millennial generations, people who live in big cities and suburbs, and white college graduates, especially college-educated white women."
As New York awaits the indictment, demonstrators make their voices heard
Tuesday brought a crisp springtime morning to New York City: the perfect weather for protests. Demonstrators have descended on Manhattan to make their opinions known about the Trump indictment — some to celebrate it, some to decry it.
Hours before the afternoon court appearance, protesters had already gathered both at Trump Tower in Midtown and at the criminal courthouse in lower Manhattan, where Trump is set to present himself for criminal processing.
Joining the protesters were media tents, camera crews, security officers, vendors, even a Trump impersonator, all on top of the usual activity of a New York weekday morning. Commuters snapped photos as they walked and biked past.
“Happy arraignment day,” said Julie DeLaurier, a 66-year-old Brooklyn retiree who had come to Trump Tower. “My son faced the inside of a courtroom for jumping turnstiles. I think Trump can face the inside of a courtroom, too.”
Wearing a cowboy hat adorned with stars and stripes, included New Jersey resident Susan Cerbo, 55, who said that Tuesday was her birthday. “I can’t find a better way than to be out supporting Donald Trump,” she said. She believed that the indictment — “absolutely ridiculous,” she said — will only serve to “empower” his candidacy.
Even some of those who turned out to oppose Trump conceded that his campaign could benefit from the indictment — at least, in the short term.
“He craves attention no matter what kind of attention it is. And boy, is he getting it now,” said Manhattan resident Sandy Radoff, a member of a protest group called Rise and Resist. “But if you look at the data, independents and unaffiliated voters are not looking favorably on all of this, and it’s only just begun.”
Trump has raised millions in fundraising over the indictment
According to Trump’s team, the indictment has been lucrative from a fundraising perspective.
In an email to supporters, Trump’s campaign self-reported that it raised $4 million within 24 hours of the indictment, and another $1 million the following day. As of Monday afternoon, according to Trump adviser Jason Miller, the campaign has raised $7 million.
The former president’s team claims more than 25% of the contributions came from first-time donors.
The solicitations for donations don't appear to be stopping anytime soon.
“With my arrest and arraignment set to take place TOMORROW, we need to keep up this momentum and continue to SURGE higher than ever before!” the campaign wrote in an email Monday morning.
Rep. George Santos was briefly spotted at the pro-Trump rally
Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is headlining a pro-Trump rally outside the Manhattan courthouse, where a crowd is growing.
But there are more journalists than protesters in the crowd, according to Boston Globe reporter Jess Bidgood.
"I would estimate a 1,000: 1 reporter to protester ratio here at the Marjorie Taylor Greene rally," she tweeted.
New York Rep. George Santos was pictured arriving at the courthouse, though he didn't stay for long. Semafor reporter Kadia Goba tweeted that he told her "it was too chaotic" and he "felt threatened."
It's not clear which other Republicans may show.
Gothamist reached out to all 11 members of the GOP’s New York congressional delegation, and none of them confirmed plans to attend (including Santos). Read their story here.
What we know about Juan Merchan, the judge overseeing the case
The judge ruling over the former president's criminal case is Juan Manuel Merchan, a New York court system veteran with more than 15 years under his belt. Merchan is no stranger to high-profile prosecutions, including cases involving Donald Trump.
This particular case against the former president may very well be Merchan's most noteworthy case to date, seeing as Trump is the first president ever charged with a crime, NPR's Joe Hernandez reports.
Read more about Merchan and his experience in Trump-related cases here.
What is a gag order and will Trump get one?
It's possible that Trump could receive a gag order from the judge, Juan Merchan, which means the former president and his legal team would be prohibited from speaking about the lawsuit in public.
Gag orders are fairly common in high-profile cases and are typically imposed when a defendant has a record of trying to use speech to undermine the trial, or to intimidate the judge, prosecutors or jury.
In 2019, for example, Trump adviser Roger Stone had a gag order against him tightened after he continued to post on social media during the course of his trial.
It's not necessarily the only option though, Catherine Ross, a professor of law at George Washington University, said.
"They can also have a discussion in which the judge warns Trump and his team that he is keeping a careful eye," Ross said. "I would think at a minimum, they should have a full and frank discussion putting Trump and his lawyers on notice, that if they abuse the speech rights, the court is prepared to curtail them."
The judge could have a discussion with Trump and his lawyers today, but if Trump violates their agreement, a gag order could be issued later on.
What further complicates Trump's case is that he is a candidate for president once again — a reason his legal team has said they have "no indication" that the judge would issue a gag order.
"The defendant is the leading Republican candidate for the office of the president of the United States and will be campaigning. Hard to put a gag order when he's going to be fielding questions about his current legal situation," Trump's lawyer Joe Tacopina said in a recent interview with ABC News.
But Ross said taking Trump's candidacy into account would politicize the case, and added that it would be "extremely reasonable" for the judge to issue a gag order in this case.
Trump has tapped a former U.S. prosecutor to lead his defense team
Trump has hired Todd Blanche, a top white-collar criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor, to lead his legal defense team.
Blanche spent more than eight years as a federal prosecutor with the Southern District of New York, where he handled cases related to public corruption, fraud and violent crime. More recently, he worked as a partner at the top-flight New York firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, from which he resigned this month in order to represent Trump.
Perhaps most notably, Blanche represented former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort against state charges brought in 2019 related to mortgage fraud.
At that time, Manafort was in prison, having already been convicted of federal fraud charges in a case stemming from the Mueller investigation. The New York state charges — brought by the previous Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr. — were understood to ensure Manafort faced prosecution even if then-President Donald Trump pardoned him, as pardons apply only to federal crimes. (Trump pardoned Manafort in 2020.)
But Manafort’s legal team, led by Blanche, successfully argued that the state charges amounted to double jeopardy.
In celebrating that decision, Blanche accused prosecutors of playing politics. “Today’s decision is a stark reminder that the law and justice should always prevail over politically motivated actions,” Blanche said then.
That’s, of course, a charge that Trump himself has made repeatedly of this case and others over the years.
Even if Trump gets a mug shot, we may not see it. Here's why
Typically, when a person shows up for arraignment, there are a few logistical things they have to take care of before they can appear in front of a judge: namely, fingerprints, photographs and paperwork.
It's not entirely clear what that process will look like for former President Donald Trump. But one growing area of curiosity is whether he will have a mug shot taken. And if so, will people be able to see it?
The short answer is: Probably not, unless he personally decides to release it publicly.
The pros and cons of mug shots
Mug shots historically remain in police files, but in many cases are now available online.
Mug shots only show that a person was booked, not whether they were found innocent or guilty. And their internet presence can often come at someone's professional or personal expense.
The rules around publishing mug shots are oft-debated and ever-evolving, with policies varying by state.
New York passed a "mug shot ban" in 2019
Then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2020 budget included a law that effectively banned law enforcement from releasing most mug shots to the public.
The so-called ban has some exceptions: It says photographs can be released if they will "serve a specific law enforcement purpose and disclosure is not precluded by any state or federal laws.”
That could mean, for example, when investigators are searching for a missing or wanted person.
What Trump's team has said
Some mug shots have leaked in the past, despite New York's law discouraging their release, The Associated Press reports. It's possible that could happen today.
But it's unclear whether Trump or his team want his mug shot — if he gets one — to be leaked.
Alina Habba, an attorney representing Trump in several legal matters, argued on CNN on Monday that they should not be taken or released to the public.
“Mug shots are for people so that you recognize who they are," she said. "He’s the most recognized face in the world, let alone the country, right now, so there’s no need for that."
But Trump might want to use such a photo for campaign purposes.
Citing three unnamed sources familiar with the situation, Rolling Stone reports that some of Trump's advisers have pushed him to "turn his mug shot into fuel for a fundraising drive, or as a potent new symbol on 2024 campaign merchandise."
Trump's campaign said Monday it had raised $7 million since he was indicted on Thursday.
One possible pretrial hearing to expect: Moving the case out of Manhattan
Matthew Galluzzo, a former prosecutor in the New York County District Attorney's Office, says a possible conviction comes down to more than just the evidence — it's also about the jurors who are considering it.
A case can be strong in Manhattan and weak in Staten Island, just based on the makeup of the jury pool, he tells Morning Edition. And Trump, who won a bare 22.6% of New York City ballots in 2020, is widely unpopular in Manhattan — with Galluzzo calling him "possibly the most despised person on the island."
"If I had to pick which side to be on, and I had to win to save my life, I would probably choose to be on the prosecution's side simply because the jury pool in Manhattan is so incredibly against Donald Trump," he adds.
Galluzzo expects defense attorneys to argue that it won't be possible for Trump to get a fair trial in Manhattan and push to have it moved somewhere else.
And he doesn't think that's the only pretrial motion Trump's team will make.
Most similar cases would probably take a year to get to trial, Galluzzo says. He expects that Trump's strategy will be to delay that process as much as possible.
"If he can push this thing back until after the election then he can effectively win the trial that way," he says.
One thing he's not expecting to see? A settlement deal reached by the two parties.
"They're not gonna make him an offer that he would accept," he adds. "And I think more than anything he probably wants that public stage to play the victim, to have an audience."
A former Manhattan DA calls the Trump indictment an 'extraordinary event'
The indictment of Donald Trump marks the first time in American history that a former president will face criminal charges. Former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. described the situation as an "extraordinary event."
"There's no getting around that," Vance said. "And it's an important event, legally and culturally."
Republicans, Democrats, political pundits and more have been speculating about the charges, but the only person who has a clear picture of everything going on is the current Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg.
Click hereto read more about why the indictment is a monumental event.
Streets throughout New York City are barricaded
While law enforcement has not indicated that there are any threats from protesters on either side Tuesday, streets throughout the city are barricaded.
The already busy, posh neighborhood by Central Park where Trump Tower is located was heavily guarded by NYPD on Monday afternoon, where a small handful of protesters on both sides of the political spectrum were gathered.
Trump supporter Eric Berend told NPR — echoing talking points Trump has made — that he believes the case has political motivations. He came out to protest because "it's almost nakedly apparent that there is a strong political aspect to all of this."
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office has said that such "baseless" accusations will not "deter us from fairly applying the law."
Processing Trump may take several hours (and it's still unclear if he'll wear handcuffs)
NPR's Ilya Marritz, who covers former President Donald Trump's legal affairs, told Morning Edition that the indictment is likely to be unsealed sometime today as Trump surrenders for processing.
That's the time that Trump would come in for photographs, fingerprints and paperwork, as well as to enter a plea, a process that typically takes several hours.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has said repeatedly that the justice system should treat a former president the same way as any other defendant, so Marritz thinks it's likely Trump will have to go through the typical steps of an arraignment.
Even so, his status is expected to pose some unusual logistical challenges.
"It's gonna involve lawyers, cops, the Secret Service, the ex-president himself," Marritz says. "Trump is not known for hiding from cameras, and I'm certain there will be a lot of cameras there."
The processing itself would take place behind closed doors. Two of Trump's lawyers, who deny that he committed any crime, told Reuters on Friday that he will not be handcuffed when he arrives and plans to enter a not-guilty plea.
"This is the first time that it really seems likely that the former president of the United States will be having a mug shot, being fingerprinted and having not just this indictment ... but more indictments to come," presidential historian Douglas Brinkley tellsMorning Edition. "So we're in for a very rocky spring."
New York City Mayor Eric Adams calls out Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in a safety briefing
"There have been no specific, credible threats to our city at this time," said New York City Mayor Eric Adams during a press briefing on Monday.
Without digging too far into specifics, Adams said the New York Police Department was prepared for any escalations and would be actively monitoring the DA's office and courthouse, where Trump is expected to appear.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said an increased police presence and intermittent road closures would be necessary and implored residents to use public transportation.
Adams said, "There may be some rabble-rousers" who plan to visit the city.
"Our message is clear and simple: Control yourselves. New York City is our home, not a playground for your misplaced anger," he said, specifically calling out Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.
After initially playing down the need to protest Trump's possible arrest, Greene said on Twitter Sunday that she was planning on joining the New York Young Republican Club for a "peaceful" demonstration near the courthouse.
Adams added that anyone caught committing violence or vandalism "of any kind" would be arrested, "no matter who you are."
Trump doesn't want cameras in the courtroom, but plans on a prime-time speech
All eyes are on the former president on the day of his arraignment.
And, as NPR political correspondent Domenico Montanaro notes, "He's predictably making a pretty big show of it."
Montanaro tellsMorning Edition that Trump's stance on the media frenzy may be summed up by a quote from his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal: "From a bottom-line business perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all."
And he appears to be trying to capitalize on the indictment, with his campaign saying it has raised more than $7 million in the few days since.
Still, Trump did fight a request from news organizations to have cameras in the courtroom.
In a Monday night ruling, the judge overseeing the case banned video cameras from the room but permitted pool photographers to take still photos before the proceedings begin.
"Trump in front of a crowd is much different than Trump at a court proceeding," Montanaro says.
Trump is planning to deliver a speech from his Mar-a-Lago residence at 8:15 p.m. ET tonight — which might be considered an unusual move, though not out of character for him.
"Most lawyers will tell their clients to stay quiet: Don't say anything that could hurt the case," Montanaro says. "That's not Trump. That's not what he does."
It's unclear how much Trump's legal woes will affect his presidential bid and political future. Montanaro says recent polls show that 8 in 10 Republicans like Trump, but 6 in 10 people overall say he should not be president. And he's yet to see Trump's Republican rivals using this as an opportunity on the campaign trail.
"It could be one for a skilled and talented politician who could make the argument," he adds. "But we haven't seen that yet."
Surrender, arraignment and stumping: Here's what to expect today
Last Thursday, a New York grand jury voted to indict former President Donald Trump for his alleged role in covering up hush money payments.
Today, history is set to be made once again as Trump is expected to voluntarily surrender to the Manhattan district attorney, and, later, arraigned for his alleged crimes as the nation watches along, eager for answers on what it means for the Republican primary race.
Here's what we know about the timing of today's events.
- Surrender: Trump is expected to turn himself in to the DA's office sometime today. He could be fingerprinted and have his mug shot taken, but the exact details were still up in the air as of late yesterday.
- Arraignment: Trump will appear before Judge Juan Manuel Merchanat 2:15 pm ET. It's still unclear whether the media will be able to attend and/or livestream the hearing.
- Speech: The former president will travel back to Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, to hold a rally. Given the travel time, we're expecting this could start around 8 p.m. ET.
Trump hunkered down overnight in Trump Tower
For the last week and a half, reporters have been keeping a close eye on Trump's whereabouts as rumors about him resisting arrest started to swirl.
The former president appeared to be staying put at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., despite publicly predicting his own arrest in mid-March. As the news of the indictment broke on Thursday, his private plane was still sitting dormant on a local tarmac, roughly 1,200 miles from Manhattan.
The suspense over whether he'd turn himself in ratcheted up another level after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who's expected to be one of Trump's GOP primary competitors, tweeted that his state wouldn't assist with any attempts to extradite the former president to New York for his arraignment.
But any visions of a contentious arrest scene vanished completely Monday afternoon when Trump and his plane took off heading north.
The former president spent the night at his Trump Tower residence. He's expected to surrender to the DA's office for processing sometime today.
The scene outside the courthouse before sunrise
It's morning in New York City, where reporters have been lining up outside the Manhattan Criminal Court since well before sunrise.
Among them is NPR's Andrea Bernstein. She spoke toMorning Edition's Steve Inskeep about what it's like outside the courthouse, hours before former President Donald Trump is expected to arrive for his arraignment.
Trump spent the night in his Manhattan apartment and will head downtown later. Police are closing several streets to facilitate that trip — visiting presidential motorcades are relatively common in New York City, but a former president on his way to be fingerprinted and processed is a first.
Bernstein says it's not clear what exactly is going to happen when he gets there.
"[Reporters] began lining up yesterday in the middle of the afternoon ... in order to be able to get on to another line this morning for press access to the courtroom," she says. "It's just a sign of how unusual, how unprecedented this event is that there are no rules, no guidance."
Press won't be allowed into the courtroom until the middle of the day.
When Trump does arrive, protocol calls for him to be fingerprinted, processed and eventually walked to the courtroom. Bernstein says that's on the 15th floor of the building and down "a pretty long hallway."
So far the crowd outside the courthouse is mostly comprised of journalists and security, with no protesters in sight. Bernstein says, "It feels quite calm."
New York City is bracing for protests, and Mayor Eric Adams has already warned Trump supporters to be on their best behavior.
"Control yourselves," he said. "New York City is our home, not a playground for your misplaced anger."
Trump isn't planning to stay in the city for long. He'll return to Florida, where he's expected to make a prime-time speech tonight.
Trump supporters are quieter than expected on social media
Former President Donald Trump's supporters rallied online when he was defeated in the 2020 election, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. And though many Republicans voiced their support for Trump following the news of the indictment, his far-right followers on social media seem to be less enthusiastic this time around.
NPR's Huo Jingnan reports that there aren't as many calls to stop the proceedings or protest as there were following the 2020 election.
"From our early reads on this, we can't, you know, haven't been able to really pick out a whole lot of solid plans to actually mobilize large crowds around this," said Jared Holt, a researcher at the nonprofit Institute of Strategic Dialogue monitoring extremism. "I say that with the caveat that in the weeks to come that can always change."
Read more about what Trump supporters are saying online here.
What's in the indictment?
No one knows for sure what charges Trump may be facing. Several news outlets reported last week that the former president could face over two dozen criminal counts, but NPR has not been able to independently verify the claim.
What we do know is that the indictment is still under seal.
NPR's Ilya Marritz, who covers Trump's legal affairs, told Morning Edition that a grand jury process is "secret by design."
"Until we read that indictment, we don't know the specific charges Trump will have to defend himself against," he added, "and that's a good reason to treat headlines and hot takes with a little bit of skepticism."
We also know the 23-person grand jury heard evidence in the case, including testimony from Stormy Daniels and Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen. At least 12 members (a majority) decided there was enough reasonable cause to believe that Trump committed a crime.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office confirmed that decision on Thursday, saying it had contacted Trump's attorney "to coordinate his surrender" to authorities.
Need a quick refresher on the indictment news? Start here
If you missed Thursday's news about the indictment, we've got you covered with five things you need to know to understand the news:
- This grand jury investigation has been going on for months. It centers on hush money payments made in 2016.
- Trump was asked to surrender after news of the grand jury's findings leaked.
- Trump and the GOP say the indictment is political persecution.
- Democrats say that this indictment is about accountability and that no one is above the law.
- This could be just the beginning of Trump's legal woes. Other investigations are pending and a trial over hush money payments could take months.
➡️ Get caught up on the key facts about the indictment(then come back to this blog for the latest).