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Trump to face charges in storm Daniels in hush money probe – Reuters

  • Trump is due in court on Tuesday in Manhattan
  • The US president is the first to face criminal charges
  • Trump’s lawyer says he is not guilty

NEW YORK, March 31 (Reuters) – Donald Trump is expected to pose and be photographed in New York City next week as he becomes the first US sitting president to face criminal charges in a case involving a 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

As Trump waited to appear before a judge in Manhattan on Tuesday, as the nation bids to reclaim the presidency, divisions in the United States could increase. A New York judge, in a letter signed Friday by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, made it clear that Trump had been indicted, but it was not clear when the specific charges were made public.

Trump plans to fly to New York on Monday from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and spend the night in Trump Tower before arriving in court on Tuesday morning, according to a person familiar with the matter. Trump plans to return to Florida later, the source said.

Susan Necheles, Trump’s attorney, told Reuters that he would plead not guilty. Necheles said he did not expect the charge to be adjudicated until Tuesday.

“I’m not afraid of what’s going to happen,” Trump said in a fundraising address on Friday.

Trump has spent nearly two weeks using various legal challenges to rally supporters and raise money as he seeks his party’s nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in a 2020 rematch next year. Trump said his campaign raised more than $4 million in the 24 hours after news of his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury.

The first American president to try to overturn an election defeat that inspired a deadly 2021 attack on the US Capitol has signaled that he will run against the charges.

Biden on Friday kept his thoughts on the charges against his political rival to himself, telling reporters, “I’m not talking about impeachment of Trump anymore.”

After word of the indictment surfaced on Thursday, Trump called himself “completely innocent” and a victim of public persecution.

On Friday, Trump pushed ahead of Justice Juan Merchan, a judge awaiting a hearing on the case. Trump wrote on social media that Merchan, who also presided over last year’s trial in which his real estate company was convicted of tax fraud, “hates me” and “viciously” treated the Trump Organization. Trump has not been charged in the case, which Bragg’s office also handled.

The specific charges in the new indictment are not yet known, though CNN reported that Trump has previously pleaded guilty to more than 30 counts of fraud and the Associated Press reported that the former president faces at least one felony charge.

Another Trump lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, said Trump does not have handcuffs on his court appearance and will be released without bail.

“He’s ready to fight. He’s gearing up,” Tacopina said in a phone interview.

Any potential trial is still more than a year away, legal experts said, and could happen during or after the presidential campaign.

PARTISAN COMPETITION

Trump, 76, accused Bragg of trying to damage his election chances. Trump’s claims were echoed by many of his fellow Republicans and potential rivals in the race for the party’s presidential nomination.

Mike Pence, Trump’s former president and possible 2024 candidate, said the charges send a “terrible message” to the world about US justice.

“I’m very troubled by that,” Pence said at the Washington forum.

Before the indictment, the grand jury heard testimony about a $130,000 payment to Daniels in the waning days of the 2016 presidential campaign. Daniels said she was ordered to remain silent about a sexual encounter she had with Trump in 2006.

“It’s revenge,” Daniels told the Times of London. “It was so much worse that he had been caught before.”

Senior House Republicans have vowed to investigate Bragg and demand that he hand over documents and other classified material from the investigation. He said Congress does not have the authority to interfere with Bragg’s New York law suit and accused the lawyers of avoiding political conflicts. Bragg’s office has been the target of bomb threats in recent weeks.

“You and many of your colleagues have been elected to work with Mr. Trump in an effort to discredit and undermine the integrity of elected state prosecutors and court judges,” Bragg wrote in a letter to Republican attorneys.

In addition to this case, Trump is facing two federal criminal investigations into his efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat and alleged tampering with documents after leaving office. Trump is separately looking into the Georgia investigation in his attempt to reverse his 2020 loss in that state.

Officials stepped up security around a forum in New York when Trump on March 18 called on his supporters to protest against any arrests. A law enforcement source said police will close roads around the market in anticipation of Tuesday’s sighting.

On Friday, media outlets were set up outside the market but there was no sign of unrest or protests related to the accident.

Trump addressed this month’s national protests, recalling his rhetoric on Jan. 6. 2021, an attack on the US Capitol, and warned last week of potential “death & destruction” if it happened.

Outside Mar-a-Lago, about a dozen people waved horns and waved as cars passed by.

Sonja Simpson, 62, said Daniels was not paid by the public.

“If there was a thing, that’s between him, that woman and his wife. Time. Be honest,” Simpson said.

Retailer Ronald Solomon said sales of Trump-themed hats and t-shirts spiked after the charges were announced.

Some 44% of Republicans said Trump should drop out of the race if nominated, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week.

Michael Cohen, the former president’s personal lawyer, said he had agreed with Trump on the payments to Daniels and his second wife, former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Trump has denied that he had sexual relations with either woman, but Cohen has admitted it.

Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in 2018 and served over a year in prison. Federal prosecutors said they acted at Trump’s direction.

Additional reporting by Rich McKay, Tim Reid, Alexandra Ulmer, Doina Chiacu, Kanishka Singh, Latinitas Pitas and Katharine Jackson; Andy Sullivan wrote; Edited by Scott Malone, Will Dunham, Chizu Nomiyama and Daniel Wallis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Ava Grey

Hi there! I'm Ava Grey, an enthusiastic article writer with a passion for the arts, fashion, and staying informed about current events. As a journalism student at the New York Academy of Art, I'm driven to use my writing to create positive change and spark meaningful conversations. I'm particularly interested in contemporary art and sustainable fashion, and I love exploring how people use these mediums to express themselves and communicate their values. I believe that staying informed and hearing different perspectives is essential for personal growth and learning, and I'm always eager to engage in lively debates and discussions.

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