Why Donald Trump could be indicted and how it affects his White House bid

DailyBiteMarch 21, 2023 | 13:15 IST

Former US President Donald Trump has said he expects to be arrested soon and has called for mass demonstrations. Though it is still not sure if he is going to be arrested, it is true that a New York grand jury is investigating Donald Trump over a hush money payment to an adult film actress.

In a social media post, Trump, referring to himself, said the "leading Republican candidate and former president of the United States will be arrested on Tuesday of next week." He however did not say why he expects to be arrested.

Trump, who has already announced a White House bid for 2024, would become the first former or sitting US President to ever be charged with a crime if an indictment is filed in the case.

What is Donald Trump accused of?

Though Trump is facing multiple investigations after seeking to overturn the 2020 election and over his handling of classified documents, the case in which he might be indicted is the one where he is accused of an alleged hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels (real name: Stephanie Clifford).

In 2016, Daniels contacted some media outlets offering to sell her account of what she said was an adulterous affair with Donald Trump in 2006. But once Trump and his team got to know about this, his lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to Daniels to keep her quiet.

The payment to Daniels, however, is not illegal or a crime in this case. But the real issue here was that when Trump reimbursed Cohen, the record for the payment said that it was for legal fees. Prosecutors, in this case, are saying that this amounts to Trump falsifying business records. According to the law, in New York, it is a misdemeanour - a criminal offence.

A woman holds up a poster as part of a protest in front of the courthouse ahead of former President Donald Trump's anticipated indictment. (AP Photo)

Not only that, the misdemeanour might be raised to a felony if the prosecutors could prove that the false accounting was intended to cover up a second crime. They could also argue that this breaks election laws, because his attempt to hide his payments to Daniels was motivated by not wanting voters to know he had an affair with her.

Trump is fighting 2024 US Presidency. He has several legal issues to deal with though.

The many legal troubles of Trump

Trump is already facing several criminal probes at state and federal levels over possible wrongdoings. A jury in Manhattan, New York, found Trump's company guilty of a long-running criminal tax fraud scheme.

The Trump Organization was hit with a $1.6 million fine for tax fraud and other crimes committed as part of a scheme to help its top executives avoid paying taxes. The Trump Corp. and The Trump Payroll Corp., two subsidiaries of the Trump Organization, were both sentenced to the maximum possible fines under New York laws.

In Georgia, in of the most serious accusations against the former President, a prosecutor is investigating Trump and his allies' efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the southern state. The grand jury has recommended multiple indictments in that case, reported AFP.

Federal probes are also going on against Trump into his handling of classified documents as well as his possible involvement in the January 6 Capitol rioting.

What if Trump is indicted?

The decision on whether to file charges against Trump now rests with New York City District Attorney Alvin Bragg. An indictment would begin a lengthy process that could last several months.

Trump wants to be President again, but tax fraud case rains on his parade

If he is charged, Trump's lawyers have indicated that the former President's arrest would follow standard procedure. Law enforcement agencies and the Secret Services, which guards Trump and other former Presidents, have been involved in contingency plans in the event of an arrest, reported BBC.

What it means for his Presidential bid

While some believe that an indictment would be really bad for Trump's Presidential bid, it is highly likely that it will boost support for him. Trump can easily play a victim card, especially in this case, which is 7 years old now. Conservatives believe that Trump is being held to a different standard of justice.

Conservatives believe that Trump is being held to a different standard of justice. (AP Photo)

An indictment or even a criminal conviction is not going to stop Trump from continuing his Presidential campaign as there is nothing in US law that prevents a candidate who is found guilty of a crime from campaigning or serving as the President, even from jail.

If Trump is arrested, it would be much more difficult for him to do the campaigning, but it might also lead to the Republican voters rallying around him.

Last updated: March 21, 2023 | 13:15
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