• Thursday, April 25, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

NY grand jury indicts Donald Trump over hush money paid to porn star

By: Saumesh Thimbath

A New York grand jury has voted to indict former US president Donald Trump over hush money payments made to a porn star ahead of the 2016 election, multiple US media reported on Thursday.

The felony indictment, filed under seal by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, will likely be announced in the coming days, according to The New York Times which cited four people with knowledge of the matter.

The 76-year-old Republican would become the first former or sitting president to be charged with a crime — upending the 2024 White House race in which Trump is running to regain office.

On March 18 Trump had declared he expected to be arrested within days over the payment to Stormy Daniels — who received $130,000 weeks before the 2016 election to stop her from going public about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump a decade earlier.

But after days of suspense — setting New York on edge for possible protests — the grand jury panel convened by a Manhattan prosecutor continued to hear witnesses, and the prospect of an immediate indictment appeared to recede.

Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen, who has testified before the grand jury, told Congress in 2019 that he made the payment to Daniels on Trump’s behalf and was later reimbursed.

The New York investigation is the first to reach a charging decision out of three major probes into the former president.

Trump also faces felony investigations in Georgia relating to the 2020 election and in Washington over the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol by the ex-president’s supporters, who hoped to keep him in office after his election loss.

Trump, who is seeking to be the Republican Party’s presidential nominee again in 2024, has branded all of the investigations “witch hunts” and political persecutions.

“This is Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history,” he said in a statement.

“Even before I was sworn in as your President of the United States, the Radical Left Democrats — the enemy of the hard-working men and women of this Country — have been engaged in a Witch-Hunt,” he said.

In a five-paragraph statement released within minutes of the indictment news breaking, Trump vowed to take revenge as he plots to return to the White House in 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,” he said.

President Joe Biden declined on Friday to comment on the indictment of his predecessor.

(AFP)

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