Donald Trump, the former president of the United States, will appear today, Tuesday, in court in Manhattan for arraignment on the charges he was indicted on Thursday. In this way, Trump becomes the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges, which will finally be made public after today’s hearing.
With a case of such magnitude, the BBC collects some of the most important aspects of Trump’s indictment. If you’re interested in what’s going on, here are the top 4 things you need to know about the case.
What are the charges against Trump?
Although the charges have not been made public for the time being, it is known that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been investigating a $130,000 payment made by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, to porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged affair.
Although Trump has acknowledged reimbursing money to Cohen in different payments, the payment record details that it was for “legal fees,” something prosecutors see as falsifying business records and could be the main reason for the indictment.
Would there be a felony among the charges against Trump?
Several sources close to the case believe that at least one of the charges against Trump could be a felony. In New York State, fraud can be made a felony if the lie was made with the intent to conceal or commit another crime.
Prosecutors believe that Trump would have concealed these payments in order to prevent the affair with Daniels from coming to light. As the payments were made in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election, prosecutors could consider them part of the campaign, thus being a violation of campaign finance rules.
Could there be more indictments against Trump?
Daniels was not the only porn actress who had an affair with Trump. Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate of the Year, testified to prosecutors, claiming that she had an affair with Trump in 2006 and that she received a $150,000 payment in exchange for her silence.
According to McDougal, it was the tabloid magazine National Enquirer who made the payment, in an alleged attempt to prevent other media outlets from publishing the story and getting the exclusive. At the moment it is unknown whether the porn actress’ statement was to press separate charges or is part of the case, in order to establish a pattern of Trump’s behavior.
How strong is the case against Trump really?
At the moment, and until more information is known about the charges, one can only conjecture. Although the Manhattan court is accustomed to prosecuting individuals for falsifying business records, a felony conviction would be a very different matter according to Norm Eisen, a law, ethics and anti-corruption expert at the Brookings Institution.
To do so, Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan prosecutor, would have to prove that Trump knew he was breaking the law and falsified business records in order to help his presidential campaign. Something the prosecutor could accomplish by invoking a specific New York election law that prohibits candidates from conspiring “by unlawful means” to advance a campaign.
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