The Republican, who wants to run again in the 2024 presidential election, was initially "shocked" by the charges, his attorney Joe Tacopina said on Friday on the US broadcaster NBC. He is now "ready to fight". The chances that Trump will plead guilty in court are "zero". Tacopina also announced that it intends to use legal means to challenge the charges in order to prevent a criminal trial.
The case is about a hush money payment of $ 130,000 (around 120,000 euros) to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. The porn star, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims to have had an affair with Trump in 2006, which he rejects. The payment itself is not illegal. But the ex-president could be held responsible for forging business documents or illegal campaign financing.
The exact charges are not yet known - the indictment is sealed so far, as the office of Manhattan Chief Attorney Alvin Bragg emphasized. Trump has denied all allegations. After the grand jury's decision on Thursday, the 76-year-old described himself as a victim of "political persecution and electoral interference". He is the target of a "witch hunt" by "the radical left-wing Democrats" directed against his renewed candidacy for the presidency.
Never before has a former US President been charged with a crime. That's why Trump's planned appearance before the New York judiciary next Tuesday will be a historic moment. The ex-president is first treated by the public prosecutor's office for identification, which usually also includes fingerprints and police photos. However, Trump attorney Tacopina emphasized that the Republican would “not be handcuffed”.
In a next step, Trump must then appear before a judge to read out the indictment. According to media reports, the court hearing was scheduled for 2:15 p.m. (local time; 8:15 p.m. CEST). The procedures are likely to take place under massive security precautions involving the Secret Service, which is responsible for the security of presidents and ex-presidents.
The charges against Trump triggered a political earthquake in the United States. Party friends of the ex-president sharply criticized the indictment. Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy accused District Attorney Bragg - a representative of the Democratic Party - of "irreparably damaging our country in an attempt to interfere in our presidential election". Trump's former Vice President Mike Pence called the charges a "scandal" that only further divided the United States.
US President Joe Biden declined to comment on the charges against his rival on Friday. "I'm not going to talk about the impeachment against Trump," Biden told reporters at the White House. "I have no comment whatsoever on Trump." Biden's party colleague Nancy Pelosi, the former leader of the House of Representatives, wrote on Twitter: "No one is above the law and everyone has the right to a trial to prove their innocence."
The charges against Trump are politically highly explosive. He had announced last fall that he wanted to run again in the presidential election in November next year. In surveys of candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump, who remains extremely popular with the right-wing base, is far ahead.
Trump immediately tried to use the indictment to mobilize his supporters. His campaign team sent out appeals for donations on Thursday evening to "defend Trump against the never-ending witch hunts" and win the White House in 2024.
In the past few days, Trump had warned that an indictment against him could lead to "death and destruction". Critics then accused the right-wing populist of inciting radical supporters to violent protests with his statements. This brought back memories of the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
The ex-president is not only in the sights of the judiciary in the Stormy Daniels affair. In the southern state of Georgia, investigations are underway into possible illegal attempts to influence the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. A US special investigator is also examining Trump's responsibility for the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021 and the taking of numerous secret documents from the White House to Trump's private estate Mar -a-Lago in the state of Florida after the end of the Republican term.