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Is Trump's indictment a good thing?

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

I'd love to see Trump do time for an actual crime, not some trumped-up (I'm a poet) BS charge for paying off a mistress. If that were really a crime, half our recent presidents would be in the slammer. Remember Bill Clinton paying Paula Jones $850,000 to settle that sexual harassment suit? Badabing.

Besides, the American people select their leader, not a politicized, dare I say, kangaroo prosecutor.

Let me suggest a fair alternative; somebody run the bastard over with a bus.

Grand Jury Votes to Indict Donald Trump

Exact charges against former president aren’t known; case centers on hush-money payments to porn star

Former President Donald Trump has said he would remain in the 2024 presidential race irrespective of any criminal charges.

By Joe Palazzolo and Corinne Ramey, WSJ

March 30, 2023 5:34 pm ET

A Manhattan grand jury has voted to indict Donald Trump over his role in paying hush-money to a porn star on the eve of the 2016 election, kicking off a process in which the former president will likely be required to come to New York to face the charges, according to people familiar with the matter.

The grand jury returned the indictment of Mr. Trump after a vote on Thursday, the people said, marking the first time a former president has faced criminal charges. The indictment, sought by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, isn’t public.

In New York, judges routinely keep charges under wraps until defendants make their initial appearance in court.

A spokesman for Mr. Trump and a spokeswoman for Mr. Bragg didn’t immediately comment.

The case brought by Mr. Bragg, a Democrat, is far from a sure bet. Mr. Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., and federal prosecutors each passed on charging Mr. Trump in a stand-alone case related to the hush money. If the case goes to trial, a conviction would almost certainly require a jury to credit the testimony of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who has faced his own legal troubles and pleaded guilty to an array of federal felonies in 2018. Among them was a campaign-finance offense for the porn-star payment, as well as charges of lying to a bank and to Congress.

Mr. Cohen says Mr. Trump directed him to pay Stormy Daniels $130,000 on the eve of the 2016 election in exchange for her keeping quiet about an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump has denied any affair with Ms. Daniels and said he followed Mr. Cohen’s advice as his lawyer.

The state case in New York is unlikely to have any legal bearing on Mr. Trump’s presidential candidacy, even if he is ultimately convicted. The U.S. Constitution imposes no requirement that candidates for the highest office have a clean record, and there is a legal consensus that states are barred from imposing their own restrictions on presidential candidates, said Derek Muller, a professor at the University of Iowa College of Law.

The indictment could cut different ways for Mr. Trump politically. He has shown resilience among his supporters amid numerous legal issues and controversies and has already used the threat of prosecution as a rallying point to raise campaign funds and argue that he is being charged unfairly for political reasons. At the same time, Mr. Trump’s standing has eroded among some Republicans, numerous polls have shown, and the case could make some voters more likely to support another candidate.

The hush-money investigation, triggered in part by a series of Wall Street Journal articles in 2018 about the payment, was the longest-running of several active criminal probes of Mr. Trump. While the case is focused on his alleged conduct before and during the early part of his presidential term, other investigations have been examining Mr. Trump’s actions during his later White House years and after he left office. Prosecutors’ decisions in those matters promise larger stakes, because they involve more serious alleged conduct that comes with greater potential penalties.

The Justice Department is investigating the handling of classified documents at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and efforts by Mr. Trump and his allies to overturn his 2020 election loss. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is investigating attempts by Mr. Trump and his supporters to influence Georgia’s 2020 election results.


Read the 2018 Wall Street Journal investigation that uncovered secret payoffs and a botched coverup, triggering a criminal probe into the former president.

Mr. Trump has said he would remain in the presidential race irrespective of any criminal charges, and he has incentive to stay the course: The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, an authoritative legal voice within the executive branch, has opined that a sitting president can’t be indicted.

Mr. Cohen’s criminal convictions and history as Mr. Trump’s fixer could make him a difficult witness for a jury to trust, but his account of Mr. Trump’s role in the hush-money payment has circumstantial support.

Phone records obtained by federal investigators show that Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen spoke twice soon before Mr. Cohen made arrangements to wire money to Ms. Daniels’s attorney in October 2016. They were also in touch earlier that month, as Mr. Trump’s allies in the tabloid world alerted Mr. Cohen to the threat of Ms. Daniels’s story becoming public, according to search warrant applications unsealed in Mr. Cohen’s federal case.

In Mr. Cohen’s 2018 federal guilty plea, he admitted to making an excessive campaign contribution to Mr. Trump by way of buying Ms. Daniels’s silence. The money he handed to Ms. Daniels to squelch potentially damaging news about the then-candidate was the legal equivalent of Mr. Cohen donating $130,000—far more than federal law allows—to Mr. Trump’s campaign directly, federal prosecutors alleged.

Starting in 2017, Mr. Trump and his trust cut monthly checks to Mr. Cohen to reimburse him for the payment to Ms. Daniels. According to federal prosecutors, the Trump Organization falsely booked the checks as payment for legal services that Mr. Cohen never provided, hiding their true purpose. Mr. Cohen testified in Congress in 2019 that Mr. Trump personally blessed the plan.

The main facts of the hush-money scheme have been known for years and received scrutiny by federal prosecutors in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office and state prosecutors under Mr. Bragg’s predecessor, Mr. Vance.

Stormy Daniels is at the center of a hush-money investigation by the office of the Manhattan district attorney.


Mr. Vance’s office examined the matter in 2018, but paused its inquiry until 2019, when federal prosecutors said they had wrapped up their campaign-finance probe. “We had been asked to stand down in our investigation by the U.S. attorney because it overlapped with what they were looking into,” Mr. Vance said. “After Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty, we were surprised that the investigation didn’t go further.”

When they resumed the investigation in 2019, Mr. Vance’s prosecutors looked at charging Mr. Trump with falsifying business records to hide the true purpose of checks sent to Mr. Cohen as reimbursement for the Daniels payment, according to the book “People vs. Donald Trump: An Inside Account,” written by Mark Pomerantz, a former special assistant district attorney under Mr. Vance.

The charge by itself was a misdemeanor and could be converted into a felony only if prosecutors could prove the records were falsified to commit or conceal another crime. They considered a theory that the false invoices concealed a federal campaign-finance crime related to the payment to Ms. Daniels, but no New York court had ever formally blessed that legal theory, Mr. Pomerantz wrote.

Mr. Vance and his team felt that a stand-alone felony case against Mr. Trump tied to the payment to Ms. Daniels would be too risky and abandoned it, according to Mr. Pomerantz.

They instead turned their focus to allegations that Mr. Trump inflated the value of his assets on financial statements he provided to lenders and others.

When Mr. Bragg succeeded Mr. Vance in 2022, he decided against moving forward with a case built around Mr. Trump’s financial statements, later saying that he thought it wasn’t ready. His reluctance prompted Mr. Pomerantz and another senior prosecutor to resign from the office.

Roughly a year later, Mr. Bragg’s office began presenting evidence to a grand jury about the payment to Ms. Daniels and the way in which Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed Mr. Cohen, who had tapped his own line of credit for the hush-money deal, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The district attorney’s office has abandoned and revived the hush-money inquiry so often over the years that prosecutors have referred to it as the “zombie case,” according to Mr. Pomerantz.

Mr. Trump has seized on the investigation’s ebbs and flows to cast doubt on Mr. Bragg’s motives.

“Now, they fall back on the old, and rebuked case which has been rejected by every prosecutor’s office that has looked at this,” Mr. Trump wrote on his social-media site in March, apparently referencing the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan and the prior Manhattan district attorney’s administration.

Mr. Trump has signaled possible defenses in social-media posts, saying that he relied on Mr. Cohen’s counsel and that he was a victim of extortion by Ms. Daniels. Ms. Daniels’s attorney didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Trump has also said that the payment and reimbursement of Mr. Cohen occurred so long ago that the statute of limitations—the legal period in which prosecutors can bring criminal charges—has passed.

Prosecutors could argue that the alleged conduct isn’t too old because Mr. Trump lived out of state much of the past six years, pausing the statute of limitations. And New York extended the time allowed to bring charges during the pandemic.

Write to Joe Palazzolo at and Corinne Ramey at

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