Former president Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally in Waco, Texas, on Saturday. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Donald Trump became the first former president Thursday evening to be charged with a crime after leaving office – a historic indictment that arrives as he is in the midst of a 2024 presidential election bid.

A Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Trump, his lawyers said Thursday, in a case involving hush money paid to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The indictment has not yet been unsealed, so the charges are not yet known.

In a statement released on Twitter on Thursday night, a spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said, “This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal.”

The charges, however, do not prevent Trump from running for president. Even a potential conviction would not disqualify his bid for the White House, according to Anna G. Cominsky, a professor at New York Law School.

“There are actually not that many constitutional requirements to run for president,” Cominsky said. “There is not an explicit prohibition in the Constitution in respects to having a pending indictment or even being convicted.”

But the indictment and subsequent legal proceedings could affect Trump’s candidacy in both positive and negative ways. Some of his advisers, according to a recent Washington Post article, said legal controversy is favorable terrain for Trump: back in the center of attention as the dominant figure in his party.


A number of his rivals for the Republican nomination, including presumed but undeclared candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have already leaped to his defense. But Trump’s advisers also acknowledged the pitfalls of an indictment and said the campaign had not worked out the logistics of simultaneously mounting a presidential run and facing a criminal trial.

The campaign operation is separate from Trump’s legal team, and the two are not always acting in concert, advisers said. And the candidate is not always taking advice from either team.

The Trump campaign is aiming to position the forthcoming prosecution as the latest politicized “witch hunt” targeting the former president. It has framed the probe as politically motivated by “radical-left Democrats” and said that Bragg’s probe has been funded by liberal philanthropist George Soros.

“This is the new normal. The president has been battle-tested,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said. “This operation has been fine-tuned since 2016. Dealing with these types of news cycles, you learn to get good at it. We have a full-spectrum response operation on the campaign that can deal with anything that comes our way.”

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