Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury after a probe into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, becoming the first former US president to face criminal charges even as he makes another run for the White House.
The specific charges are not yet known, as the indictment remains under seal. CNN on Thursday reported Trump faces more than 30 counts related to business fraud.
Trump said he was “completely innocent” and indicated he would not drop out of the 2024 presidential race. He accused Bragg, a Democrat, of trying to hurt his chances of winning re-election against Democratic President Joe Biden.
“This is Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history,” he said in a statement.
Shortly after, Trump appealed to supporters to provide money for a legal defense. He has raised over $2 million, according to his campaign, since he incorrectly predicted on March 18 that he would be arrested four days later.
Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination according to polling, received support from a number of his potential challengers on Thursday including Florida Governor Ron Desantis and former Vice President Mike Pence.
“This will only further serve to divide our country,” Pence said.
While the White House did not comment, Democrats said Trump was not immune from the rule of law.
“I encourage both Mr. Trump’s critics and supporters to let the process proceed peacefully and according to the law,” said the top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer.
The charges will likely be unsealed by a judge in the coming days. Trump will have to travel to Manhattan for fingerprinting and other processing at that point.
Bragg’s office said it had contacted Trump’s attorney to coordinate a surrender, which a court official said would likely occur next Tuesday.
Trump’s lawyers Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina said they will “vigorously fight” the charges.
The Manhattan investigation is one of several legal challenges facing Trump.