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    NYT: Donald Trump Is Indicted In New York

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    Special to the New York Times: March 31st, 2023 By Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich, William K. Rashbaum, Kate Christobek, Nate Schweber and Sean Piccoli

    Donald J. Trump was indicted in Manhattan on Thursday for his role in paying hush money to a porn star, according to five people with knowledge of the matter, a historic development that will shake up the 2024 presidential race and forever mark him as the nation’s first former president to face criminal charges.

    On Thursday evening, after news of the charges had been widely reported, the district attorney’s office confirmed that Mr. Trump had been indicted and that prosecutors had contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender. Two people with knowledge of the matter said Mr. Trump was expected to turn himself in and face arraignment early next week, at which point the specific charges will be unsealed.

    Mr. Trump has for decades avoided criminal charges despite persistent scrutiny and repeated investigations, creating an aura of legal invincibility that the indictment now threatens to puncture.

    His actions surrounding his 2020 electoral defeat are now the focus of a separate federal investigation, and a Georgia prosecutor is in the final stages of an investigation into Mr. Trump’s attempts to reverse the election results in that state.

    But unlike the investigations that arose from his time in the White House, this case is built around a tawdry episode that predates Mr. Trump’s presidency. The reality star turned presidential candidate who shocked the political establishment by winning the White House now faces a reckoning for a hush money payment that buried a sex scandal in the final days of the 2016 campaign.

    In a statement, Mr. Trump lashed out at Mr. Bragg, a Democrat, and portrayed the case as the continuation of a politically-motivated witch hunt against him.

    “This is political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history,” Mr. Trump said in the statement, calling Mr. Bragg “a disgrace” and casting himself as “a completely innocent person.”

    Mr. Trump has consistently denied all wrongdoing and said he did not have an affair with the porn star, Stormy Daniels, who had been looking to sell her story of a tryst with Mr. Trump during the campaign.

    On Thursday, the three lead prosecutors on the Trump investigation walked into the building where the grand jury was sitting in the minutes before the panel was scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. One of them carried a copy of the penal law — with Post-it notes visible — which was likely used to read the criminal statutes to the grand jurors before they voted. About three hours later, the prosecutors walked into the court clerk’s office through a back door to begin the process of filing the indictment.

    For weeks, the atmosphere outside of the district attorney’s office had resembled a circus. But the fervor had cooled in recent days, and the outskirts of the office were emptier on Thursday than they have been in weeks.

    Here’s what else you need to know:

    • Mr. Trump has consistently painted the investigation as a larger conspiracy forwarded by his political opponents. Though he insulted Mr. Bragg, he chose to lay the blame at the feet of his successor in the Oval Office. “I believe this Witch-Hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden,” he said.

    • The prosecution’s star witness is Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer who paid the $130,000 to keep Ms. Daniels quiet. Mr. Cohen has said that Mr. Trump directed him to buy Ms. Daniels’s silence, and that Mr. Trump and his family business, the Trump Organization, helped cover the whole thing up. The company’s internal records falsely identified the reimbursements as legal expenses, which helped conceal the purpose of the payments.

    • Although the specific charges remain unknown, Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors have zeroed in on that hush money payment and the false records created by Mr. Trump’s company. A conviction is not a sure thing: An attempt to combine a charge relating to the false records with an election violation relating to the payment to Ms. Daniels would be based on a legal theory that has yet to be evaluated by judges, raising the possibility that a court could throw out or limit the charges.

    • The indictment, the product of a nearly five-year investigation, kicks off a new and volatile phase in Mr. Trump’s post-presidential life as he makes a third run for the White House. And it could throw the race for the Republican nomination — which he leads in most polls — into uncharted territory.

    • Mr. Bragg is the first prosecutor to indict Mr. Trump. He is now likely to become a national figure enduring a harsh political spotlight.

      Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

    Mr. Trump will be the first former president to face criminal charges. The precise charges are not yet known, but the case is focused on a hush-money payment to a porn star during his 2016 campaign.

    Ben ProtessJonah E. BromwichWilliam K. RashbaumKate Christobek, Nate Schweber and 

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