By Nicholas Carpenter || Contributing Writer 

The Indictment:

On Thursday, March 30, 2023, a grand jury in New York indicted former United States president Donald J. Trump. New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Trump with thirty-four counts of business fraud. The indictment is without precedent, as it has been the first time that a former president has been criminally charged. Another former president, Richard Nixon, was accused of conspiracy in the Watergate scandal; however, he resigned from office and received a presidential pardon from his successor Gerald Ford.

The charges are related to “hush money” payments that Trump made to two adult film actresses with whom he had affairs: Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, back before the 2016 election. The “hush money” was to prevent any information about the affairs from being released to the public, as it would hurt his campaign. Trump’s personal attorney at the time, Michael Cohen, was found guilty in 2018 of paying $130,000 and $150,000 to the two actresses to cover up Trump’s relations with them. The former president is accused of falsifying business documents in order to cover up the scandal, which is a federal crime. Trump claimed that the money was a legal expense and had nothing to do with the scandal.

The Arraignment:

On April 4, 2023, Trump went through the process of arraignment: he was arrested and sent to the court to hear his charges. He was charged with thirty-four felony charges for a “catch and kill” scheme where he purposely forged legal documents to conceal criminal activity ahead of the 2016 election. Trump pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. Alvin Bragg has promised that he is determined to move the prosecution of Trump forward, saying that a “trail of money and lies exposes a pattern.”

We don’t know whether Trump will be convicted and sentenced yet. There are complicated legal issues involving Alvin Bragg’s jurisdiction to convict someone of a federal crime under New York State law. His theory is that he can convict Trump of a felony for falsifying documents if the action of falsifying documents was done to conceal a federal crime. The Supreme Court could also play a role in the verdict. Trump has announced that he is running for president again in 2024, but his campaign could take a large hit from these legal problems, and he may need to drop out of the race. The United States has never seen a situation like this before, so what plays out through the next phase of the indictment will be watched very closely.

Nicholas Carpenter is a contributing writer. His email is