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Here’s the Latest on Donald Trump’s Indictment by a Manhattan Grand Jury

Former President Donald Trump was criminally indicted on Thursday by a Manhattan grand jury. While the exact charges are not yet known, they reportedly relate to the payment of hush money to a former porn star.

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced Thursday evening that it had reached out to Trump’s team to discuss an arraignment date. Trump called the indictment “political persecution” in a statement, attacking Bragg as a “disgrace” and predicting the decision would hurt Democrats in the 2024 election.

The indictment, which remains under seal, marks the first time in American history that a former President has been criminally charged, and sets up a stunning legal and political test for the nation as Trump once again seeks the presidency.

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Here are the latest updates on the indictment.

The right-wing response so far: ‘Now it’s GAME ON’

On Thursday, many on the pro-Trump social media groups and forums that served as the staging grounds of the “Stop the Steal” rallies and the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol celebrated the indictment.

“I almost wanted this. Now it’s GAME ON,” one person wrote on a popular pro-Trump forum. “I know all of you are smart enough to know and see all this, but we need to rally behind him and show the left just how much this reinforces his popularity and electability,” another person wrote. “Get active at your local level and get vocal. Teflon Don.”

It was a shift from the tone from earlier in the month, after Trump announced on March 18 that his arrest was imminent. Despite Trump calling on his supporters to “PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!” to “save America,” few seemed to respond enthusiastically. The largest protest, organized in Manhattan, barely drew 50 people.

Online, many of Trump’s most loyal supporters largely agreed that it made no sense to organize any mass rallies or events, with many expressing anger at what they described as Trump’s “betrayal” of those who heeded his call on Jan. 6.

“Has he called for protests about these poor guys? No. But he’s calling for us to protest about his arrest,” another person wrote on a popular por-Trump forum. “It doesn’t sit right with me.” Another user agreed: “He’s right. Trump betrayed the J6 patriots.”

But on Thursday, some in Trump’s orbit continued to forcefully make the case that his indictment affected all of them.

“For those people who said, ‘It’s not real. Trump’s making it up. It’s not a real issue for us’….Just wait until they come for you,” his son Donald Trump Jr. said on a live videocast on the alternative streaming site Rumble.” We’re in a battle for our entire existence.”

Intelligence officials tracked an uptick in violent rhetoric after news of the possible indictment broke on March 18, with most threats targeting law enforcement, judges and government officials in New York, according to a CBS report. Multiple agencies have discussed potential security plans for the vicinity of the Manhattan Criminal Court.

—Vera Bergengruen

Catch up on the case

Trump’s Indictment Drama Showcased His Rivals’ Weakness

Donald Trump Has Been Indicted. Here’s What Happens Next in the Process

Donald Trump Was Just Indicted. Here’s What to Know About the Charges and the Case

Donald Trump Is the First President Ever Criminally Charged. Others Have Come Close Though

Why Did the Stormy Daniels Case Lead to Trump’s First Indictment?

Alvin Bragg Did What He Had to Do In Indicting Trump

Here’s how Trump is responding

Trump is claiming that the prosecution against him is politically motivated in order to hurt his candidacy for President in 2024.

Trump responded to the grand jury’s vote to indict him Thursday in a statement: “This is Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history. From the time I came down the golden escalator at Trump Tower, and even before I was sworn in as your President of the United States, the Radical Left Democrats – the enemy of the hard-working men and women of this Country – have been engaged in a Witch-Hunt to destroy the Make America Great Again movement. You remember it just like I do: Russia, Russia, Russia; the Mueller Hoax; Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine; Impeachment Hoax 1; Impeachment Hoax 2; the illegal and unconstitutional Mar-a-Lago raid; and now this.”

His statement further claimed Bragg had indicted “a completely innocent person in an act of blatant Election Interference.”

He also wrote on his social media site Truth Social that the indictment is “an attack on our country” and an attack on “free and fair elections.”

“These Thugs and Radical Left Monsters have just INDICATED [sic] the 45th President of the United States of America, and the leading Republican Candidate, by far, for the 2024 Nomination for President,” Trump wrote.

Trump’s responses did not mention his public and well-documented efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 election.

Here’s what happens next

Next, Trump will be arraigned in front of a magistrate judge, which usually happens at the courthouse in lower Manhattan. The Manhattan district attorney’s office has contacted Trump’s legal team to negotiate when he will surrender himself.

“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,” a spokesperson for Bragg said in a statement. “Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”

At the initial hearing and arraignment, Trump will be told the charges against him, his rights, and have a chance to name his own lawyer to represent him, or use a court-appointed attorney.

Once he is arraigned, the judge will decide if he is a flight risk or presents a danger, or if he can be released until the trial. This sets in motion the legal process. At a later date, Trump will have a chance to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. If Trump pleads not guilty, the court will hear pre-trial motions, and court dates will be set for discovery and a trial to begin.

If the preliminary proceedings take as long as other similar cases, the trial may not start until well into 2024, in the heat of the presidential election cycle.

Will Trump turn himself in?

It is possible. Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina has said previously that Trump would turn himself in if charged.

Trump’s lawyers are in contact with the Manhattan DA’s office and the offices are likely discussing terms under which Trump would appear in court to turn himself in to face the charges, rather than have to be arrested by law enforcement at his club in Palm Beach, Fla., or elsewhere.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, an expected Republican challenger to Trump in the 2024 election, said on Twitter Thursday that Florida “will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances.” DeSantis went on to defend Trump, describing the indictment as “un-American” and a “weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda.”

When could we know the charges?

Likely soon.

Trump’s indictment is currently under seal and not yet public. Usually the charges against a defendant are made public at the arraignment or slightly before.

Once the indictment is made public, the country will be able to see exactly what charges Trump faces and a summary of some of the evidence Bragg says has been gathered to back up the charges.

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