Former President Donald Trump published a post Saturday morning saying that he will be arrested on Tuesday for his role in reporting an alleged $130,000 payment to an adult film actress days before the 2016 presidential election.
Trump sent out the message on Truth Social platform Saturday morning that said he “WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK. PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”
It is not known why Trump made the announcement since a spokesperson for the former president said he had not been told anything specific about being indicted on Tuesday, according to The New York Times.
The indictment could be in relation to the 2016 payment of $130,000 to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels. While the focus of a grand jury’s work is sealed, both The Washington Post and the New York Times have reported that the payment in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign is a likely focal point of the investigation headed by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
If he is indicted, Trump will become the only U.S. president ever charged with a crime.
What is the indictment about and what could happen this week? Here is what we know now.
What is Trump being indicted for?
Weeks before the 2016 presidential election, Daniels was shopping a story about an affair she said she had with Trump years earlier.
One of the outlets she offered the story to was the National Enquirer.
Instead of purchasing the rights to the story itself, the Enquirer publisher, David Pecker, who was a friend of Trump’s, set up a meeting between Daniels’ attorney and Trump’s then-attorney Michael Cohen.
Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 for the story, and Trump later reimbursed him.
In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts, including campaign finance violations. One of the counts concerned the money paid to Daniels. The payment, federal prosecutors said, amounted to an improper donation to Trump’s campaign.
If Cohen was charged, how is Trump involved?
When Cohen pleaded guilty to the charges, he said that Trump was the one who directed him to pay Daniels the money.
Cohen paid Daniels’ attorney, and the money he spent was paid back to him in monthly reimbursement payments. The payments were “falsely accounted for” as legal expenses, prosecutors claim.
The payments were recorded as part of a retainer paid to Cohen for legal services.
However, there was no retainer agreement with Cohen, and he told prosecutors that Trump knew that.
What is the crime?
Falsifying business records is a misdemeanor in New York, the state where prosecutors are bringing the case.
However, in this case, prosecutors hope that a misdemeanor becomes a felony if they can show that the falsifying of records was done to commit or conceal another crime. The other crime would be a violation of election laws.
Prosecutors must prove that the money paid to Daniels was actually an improper donation to Trump’s campaign.
New York prosecutors have never combined a falsifying business records charge with a violation of state election law in a case involving any federal campaign.
Is an indictment a certainty?
According to the Times, Trump’s lawyers have met privately with the prosecutors in hopes of fending off criminal charges.
Robert Costello, Michael Cohen’s former legal adviser, is set to appear before the grand jury Monday, per a request from Trump’s attorneys. It is assumed that he will refute something Cohen testified to. Cohen was asked to be on hand Monday in case he is needed to clarify anything for the grand jury.
Once the grand jury witnesses have concluded their testimony, the prosecutors will need to present the charges to the grand jurors, who will vote on an indictment.