Donald Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on Thursday (March 30) on charges stemming from 2016 payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal to silence claims of extramarital sexual encounters.
The historic event marks the first criminal case against a former U.S. president. The news comes as Trump is also facing investigations into his alleged involvement in 2020 election interference by his supporters and the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in addition to his handling of classified documents after he was no longer in office.
“He did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this this political prosecution in Court,” lawyers Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina said in a statement, according to Associated Press.
At press time, the New York grand jury’s exact charges toward Trump are unknown.
In late 2016, amid Trump’s presidential campaign, his former lawyer Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to keep her silent about an incident a decade earlier after they met at a celebrity gold tournament. Earlier that year, Cohen had also arranged for the National Enquirer‘s publisher to pay McDougal $150,000 to stop her story of a Trump affair. Trump was implicated in court filings as knowing of the arrangements.
Trump reacted to the indictment in a statement, calling the situation “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history,” as well as a “Witch-Hunt” led by “Radical Left Democrats.”
“The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to ‘Get Trump,’ but now they’ve done the unthinkable — indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant Election Interference,” he wrote.
A number of stars have taken to social media to react to the news, including Questlove, Jason Isbell and more. See below.