For the first time in US history, an American former president will likely be charged with a felony if the Manhattan district attorney goes ahead with the "hush money" case against Trump.
Former US president Donald Trump potentially faces one of the toughest battles of his political career in a case related to his 2016 presidential campaign funding.
If Trump is formally charged, he will be the first former US president to be criminally indicted. The ramifications are enormous for the US.
Trump was the main presidential candidate of Republicans in 2016 in a race against Hillary Clinton from Democratic Party.
The Stormy Daniels saga that led to potential criminal charges against Trump began when the adult movie actress announced that she had an extramarital affair with him in 2006. But Daniels agreed to a deal that she would be silent and would not share the story.
According to claims, Trump’s team cut a deal with Daniels’ agents to pay $130,000 as “hush money” on the eve of the elections.
Trump denied the allegations as he could not risk alienating his conservative voters ahead of the presidential elections.
Having an extramarital affair is not a crime in the US legal system.
But Trump’s case was a political timebomb.
Michael Cohen, the vice president of the Trump Organization and Trump’s personal attorney, allegedly made the payment to Daniels in October 2016 through a shell company called Essential Consultants.
But the payments returned to haunt Trump after he became the US president, and his organisation paid Cohen back in instalments in 2017.
According to allegations, Trump Organization presented the “hush money” payment as legal fees during Trump’s presidential campaign.
Cohen, who in 2018 pleaded guilty to criminal tax evasion and campaign finance violations and became a Trump enemy, claimed that he had made the illegal payment at Trump’s direction. Cohen’s statement puts Trump at the centre of this fuss.
The investigation was closed in 2019, and the New York district attorney’s office looked to lose its appetite to pursue Trump’s complex business deals.
But a Democratic and alleged Soros-funded attorney came to office in the Southern District of New York office changed the game.
Alvin Bragg, Manhattan district attorney, is in the final stages of presenting a Trump case to a grand jury with pressure from Democrats.
Last Thursday, Trump posted on his social media platform Truth Social that he expects to get arrested.
As with the ongoing investigation into the “hush money” payment, many wonder what Trump will do to fight the case in court.
One of the possible options would be for the attorney’s office and Trump’s legal team to settle the case. Not much can be learned from the details of how the sides would agree to what conditions.
Another scenario would be that Trump will accuse his fixer Cohen, who claims the payment, of breaking the attorney-client privilege, which might lead to the dropping of the case. However, Cohen is also a convicted criminal whose background weakens his statements against Trump.
Separately Trump may take his Fifth Amendment right and refuse to answer questions about the case to avoid incriminating himself. He often invokes his 5th right in the US Constitution regarding his business deals.
Another option that can be seen is Trump’s decision to fight in court against claims brought up against him. This looks to be the possible scenario for the case.
As Trump announced the expectation of a possible arrest, he immediately called his supporters to pour into the streets to back him in this case.
If Trump does not like the outcome of the case, he will likely appeal it to Supreme Court. However, if the court decides to supervise the case, it will take years to resolve.
NeverTrumpers want him handcuffed
For the American public, the Stormy Daniels case is much of a political rather than a legal one.
Defendants who are arrested and charged with felony usually are handcuffed, but exceptions can be made. Considering that Trump is a former US president, most likely an exception would be applied to him.
The detention treatment is expected to be different for Trump as he awaits his court appearance.
It is almost certain that Trump will be released without being behind bars after his arraignment because the indictment will likely contain only nonviolent felony charges.
An anti-Trump campaign is already underway on social media, where Twitter users are calling to indict, arrest and convict Trump.
Fox News host Jesse Watters underlined that Democrats’ years-long wish has almost come true.
“This has been the fetish of the left forever. The former president handcuffed and paraded in front of TV cameras. What they don’t realise is that they’re lighting a fire they can’t control. They’re so turned on by the idea of Trump being locked behind bars, they’re not thinking,” he added.
Trump announced his presidential candidacy for the 2024 elections and convicting him will fuel his supporters. Trump is highly likely will use this case as a weapon In his presidential campaign.