NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, prosecutors and defense lawyers said Thursday, making him the first former U.S. president to face a criminal charge and jolting his bid to retake the White House next year.
The charges remained under seal late Thursday, but the investigation centered on payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence claims of an extramarital sexual encounter. Prosecutors said they were working to coordinate Trump’s surrender, which could happen early next week, but they did not say whether they intended to seek prison time in the event of a conviction.
The indictment, an extraordinary development after years of investigations into Trump’s business, political and personal dealings, injects a local district attorney’s office into the heart of a national presidential race and ushers in criminal proceedings in a city that the ex-president for decades called home. Arriving at a time of deep political divisions, the charges are likely to reinforce rather than reshape dueling perspectives of those who see accountability as long overdue and those who, like Trump, feel the Republican is being targeted for political purposes by a Democratic prosecutor.
Trump, who has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly assailed the investigation, called the indictment “political persecution” and predicted it would damage Democrats in 2024. In a statement confirming the charges, defense lawyers Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina said Trump “did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in court.”
A spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office confirmed the indictment and said prosecutors had reached out to Trump’s defense team to coordinate a surrender. A person familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to discuss sealed proceedings, said the surrender was expected to happen next week. District Attorney Alvin Bragg left his office Thursday evening without commenting.