What charges Donald Trump is facing?

The charges have serious complications for the former president Donald Trump that involves hush money paid to buy silence

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Web Desk
Former US President Donald Trump. AFP/File
Former US President Donald Trump. AFP/File

Former US President Donald Trump is accused of being involved in a string of lies and cover-ups related to hush-money payments made to a doorman, a Playboy model, and a porn star.

This is a historic moment as no former US President has ever faced criminal charges before. The charges have serious complications for the former president.

Charges against Trump

Donald Trump is facing 34 felony charges of falsifying business records related to a $130,000 payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels. The indictment was handed down by a Manhattan grand jury and unsealed on Tuesday. Under New York law, a conviction on this charge can result in a sentence of between one and four years in prison.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg laid out the case against Trump, his former personal attorney Michael Cohen, and executives at American Media Inc, publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid.

The charges are that they were involved in a "catch and kill" operation to "buy and suppress negative information to help Trump's chance of winning the election." The scheme involved paying hush money to Daniels, a former Trump Tower doorman, as well as buying her silence as she allegedly had a year-long sexual relationship with Trump.

According to Bragg, Trump arranged the payment to Daniels through Cohen just days before the November 2016 election to keep her quiet about a 2006 tryst at a Lake Tahoe resort. Trump then reimbursed Cohen with checks disguised as part of a retainer agreement, even though there was no such agreement.

One payment of $30,000 was made through AMI to prevent a former Trump Tower doorman from sharing false allegations that Trump fathered a child out of wedlock, according to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

The final case involved a woman who reportedly had a nearly year-long sexual relationship with Trump and received $150,000 from AMI in exchange for her silence. Although the woman was not identified by Bragg, it has been previously reported that the woman was Karen McDougal, a former Playboy playmate.

Trump denies any wrongdoing and believes he is the victim of a political witch hunt by Bragg, who is a Democrat, to undermine his 2024 White House campaign.

Cohen has since turned against his former boss and acknowledged paying Daniels on Trump's behalf. He was sentenced to three years in prison for the hush-money case, tax evasion, and other crimes.

What will happen next

During the hearing, Trump's lawyer, Todd Blanche, dismissed the charges as "boilerplate" and vowed to fight them. The judge set an initial trial date for January 2024, and Trump's lawyers have until August 8 to file motions in the case.

Legal experts say that Trump is essentially accused of orchestrating a "grand scheme to undermine the democratic process" by covering up his salacious sexual misconduct through multiple false records. If proven, this would seriously damage his quest for the presidency. However, one potential hurdle for prosecutors could be Cohen's credibility as a witness, given that he is now a convicted felon.

There is also a precedent of sorts. In 2012, former Democratic presidential nominee John Edwards was put on trial for campaign finance violations related to hush-money payments made to a mistress. The jury deadlocked, and the Justice Department opted not to retry the case.

Some other woes

Apart from the ongoing legal investigation in New York City, Donald Trump is facing legal scrutiny beyond Big Apple. A special counsel, Jack Smith, is looking into Trump's involvement in the January 6, 2021, insurrection on Capitol Hill, which was carried out by his supporters. Additionally, Smith is investigating a collection of classified documents that Trump kept after leaving office, which were discovered during an FBI search of his Florida home in August 2022.

Meanwhile, a district attorney in Georgia is investigating Trump's alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in that state.