Donald Trump has been sensationally indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, but why is the former president being arrested and what will it mean for his presidential run?
The charges relate to an alleged cover-up over the ‘hush money’ paid to porn star Stormy Daniels. Daniels claims she had sex with Trump in 2006 and then accepted $130,000 from his former lawyer weeks before the 2016 presidential election, in exchange for her silence on the encounter.
Full details about the charges brought by the grand jury are not yet known and there are few legal precedents for this situation, but the indictment or even a conviction is unlikely to legally prevent Trump from running for the presidency.
However, many complex legal issues could arise if Trump won the presidential race after a criminal conviction. It’s also unclear if another White House run would be politically viable in those circumstances.
Here DailyMail.com explains the timeline of the saga that led to Trump facing criminal charges and arrest…
Former President Donald Trump (pictured right) posted angrily to Truth Social on March 18 that he would be arrested over his alleged $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels (pictured left) prior to the 2016 Presidential Election
He branded the charges ‘corrupt and highly political’, calling the alleged hush money payment an ‘old and fully debunked fairy-tale
In an interview with 60 Minutes in 2018, the adult film actress dished the dirt on her liaison with The Donald and what occurred after they met in July 2006 at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.
Daniels, then 27, said Trump, then 60, had recently had his son Barron with wife Melania. Trump has always denied that he slept with Daniels.
Daniels told interviewer Anderson Cooper she met Trump at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles in July 2007 to discuss what she believed would be a development in Trump’s attempts to get her on his hit show, The Apprentice.
Trump ultimately said that he is ‘almost there. I’ll have an answer for you next week.’ Daniels then left after meeting with him for four hours.
A month later, Trump said he would not be able to convince NBC to get her on the show.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, told Cooper about a May 2011 interview with a sister publication of In Touch Magazine for which she was going to be paid $15,000 to discuss her time with Trump.
Two employees alleged that Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, threatened to sue the magazine if the interview ran. The story was killed and Daniels says she was never paid.
Weeks later, she said she was threatened by a man claiming to represent Trump in Las Vegas. She added that the man hinted at threats against both her and her young daughter if she didn’t ‘leave Trump alone.’
When news of the affair leaked months later, Daniels denied it, claiming the encounter had left her ‘scared’.
Stormy Daniels pictured with Donald Trump. The adult film actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims they had an affair after they met in July 2006 at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe (pictured)
Trump’s long-time fixer and former lawyer Michael Cohen (pictured) testified in front of the grand jury on March 13
Stormy Daniels first discussed the allegations of payment from Trump to keep quiet on 60 Minutes
Trump is hit by a second cheating claim made by a different adult model.
With Trump taking the political world by storm and shockingly winning the Republican nomination, former Playboy model Karen McDougal sold the story of her affair with Trump to the National Enquirer.
McDougal said she first met Trump in 2006 at the Playboy Mansion. The result was a 10-month affair, she claimed, which ended when she felt guilty about Trump cheating on his wife. Trump has always denied the affair.
In June 2016, an attorney for McDougal reportedly contacted the National Enquirer with a story about the model’s alleged relation with Trump.
A month later Trump secured the Republican nomination for president.
In August, according to the FEC document, National Enquirer parent company American Media Inc (AMI) bought the rights to McDougal’s life story including her relationship with ‘any then married men’ for $150,000.
They were later transferred to a company set up by Cohen.
AMI and its former president David Pecker struck a deal with Trump campaign officials to buy Karen McDougal’s story in order to suppress it and ‘prevent it from influencing the election,’ according to a ruling by the Federal Election Commission in 2018.
The firm that owns the National Enquirer agreed to pay a fine of $187,500 for its role.
In 2018, it was reported that Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen had negotiated a secret payoff of $130,000 to ensure Daniels’ silence shortly before the 2016 election after she and an attorney had also approached the Enquirer in October of that year.
He allegedly used a Delaware-based LLC called Essential Consultants to wire the money to Daniels’ attorney Keith Davidson on October 27, 2016.
On November 4, news broke of the deal between AMI, the owners of the Enquirer and MacDougal, which the Trump campaign denied involvement in.
Four days later, Trump was elected President of the United States.
AMI paid McDougal $150,000 for her story in August 2016, a month after Trump secured the Republican nomination for president, in an effort to ‘suppress her story from becoming public before the 2016 presidential election for the purpose of influencing that election,’ according to the Federal Election Commission
McDougal said she met Trump in 2006 at the Playboy mansion when he was filming an episode of Celebrity Apprentice. She said she broke off the affair because she felt guilty. Trump has always denied the relationship
Days before Trump’s inauguration, Cohen billed the Trump Organization for $180,035, over $50,000 more than the payment to Stormy Daniels.
Executives for the Trump Organization gave Cohen a total of $420,000 over the course of the year.
On January 12, the first story revealing the Trump-Daniels affair was published in the Wall Street Journal.
Cohen, representing Trump, did not address the allegations of paying Daniels but denied the president had an affair with her. Cohen used a statement he claimed was from Daniels to deny the affair.
On February 13, Cohen claimed in a statement he did make the payment to Daniels but alleged he wasn’t given his money back for it and it wasn’t connected to Trump’s presidential campaign.
‘Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,’ Cohen said. ‘The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.’
On March 6, Daniels announced through attorney Michael Avenatti that she would sue Trump in an attempt to get rid of a non-disclosure agreement which she claimed Trump never signed.
In addition to detailing the affair and payments, Daniels claimed Cohen intimidated and coerced her into signing a statement denying the affair.
Three days later, Avenatti put out emails showing Cohen – using an official Trump Organization email address – setting up the wire transfer to make the payment.
Trump made his first public comments on the incident April 6. He claimed he was not aware of the payment.
On April 9, the FBI raided Cohen’s office and hotel room, casting a bright spotlight on the man widely regarded as Trump’s fixer. This was the first sign of a federal investigation into the matter.
Agents seized tax documents and business records as they raided the Loews Regency hotel on Park Avenue where Cohen had been staying, and his office in 30 Rockefeller Plaza, just above NBC’s studios. Trump called the raid ‘a disgrace.’
In March 2018, Daniels announced through attorney Michael Avenatti (pictured right) that she would sue Trump in an attempt to get rid of a non-disclosure agreement which she claimed Trump never signed
Cohen eventually spent years in prison over his role in the payments to Daniels and McDougal
In early May, Trump – a day after Rudy Giuliani claimed the president reimbursed Cohen for the Daniels payment – said Cohen was on ‘a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA.’
Trump further denied that money from the campaign was involved.
In July, prosecutors gained access to 12 recordings kept by longtime Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, a federal court revealed.
One tape was revealed to include conversations about McDougal. CNN reported on air that Trump only learned of the existence of the tape this week and exclaimed, ‘I can’t believe Michael would do this to me.’
‘Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,’ Giuliani said, according to the Times, and said Trump told Cohen that if he made a payment to McDougal, he should write a check, rather than using cash, so it could be properly documented.
On August 28, just a week after Cohen plead guilty to eight counts of federal tax evasion, fraud and campaign finance violations, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office opened up an investigation into the Trump Organization.
On December 12, Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison. National Enquirer owner American Media Inc. admitted to suppressing McDougal’s story after avoiding federal prosecution. He ended up spending just over two and a half years in prison.
In July, an FBI agent claimed that based on documents from the now-finished federal probe they were led to believe Trump was aware of the payments to McDougal and Daniels.
‘Based on the timing of these calls, and the content of the text messages and emails, I believe that at least some of these communications concerned the need to prevent Clifford from going public,’ the agent wrote.
In August, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance subpoenaed the Trump Organization for records related to the payments. In September, he sent out a subpoena to get Trump’s tax returns dating back to 2011.
Trump sued to try and block the efforts two days later. This attempt was shut down in October and his initial appeal was rejected in November. Trump responded by further appealing to the Supreme Court
On July 9, the Supreme Court – now with multiple justices appointed by Trump – sided with Vance in a 7-2 decision.
‘Two hundred years ago, a great jurist of our Court established that no citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding,’ Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.
‘We reaffirm that principle today and hold that the President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need.’
Trump lost a re-election bid to Joe Biden in November.
A former New York prosecutor who resigned last month frustrated with progress of investigation into finances of former President Trump says he believes he is ‘guilty of several felonies’ in his resignation letter
Soros-backed attorney Alvin Bragg is elected to replace Cyrus Vance in November 2021, promising to focus on prosecuting Trump
Vance hired former federal prosecutor Mark Pomerantz to work on the Trump case as a special DA on February 3.
On February 25, Vance finally got access to Trump’s tax returns.
In mid-March, Vance declined to seek re-election in November. Soros-backed attorney Alvin Bragg was elected to replace him in November.
In July, a grand jury in Manhattan indicted two Trump Organization officials on 15 counts alleging a scheme to funnel $1.7million to CFO Allen Weisselberg which were not reported to the IRS.
In March, Pomerantz said in his resignation letter that he believed the former president was ‘guilty of numerous felony violations’ and that it was ‘a grave failure of justice’ not to hold him accountable.
Pomerantz, a former mafia prosecutor, suddenly resigned from his post in February after Bragg stopped short of indicting Trump.
‘In my view, the public interest warrants the criminal prosecution of Mr. Trump, and such a prosecution should be brought without any further delay,’ he wrote.
In April, Bragg promised the investigation was still ongoing and ‘exploring evidence not previously explored.’
In August, Weisselberg pleaded guilty to receiving the unreported $1.7million and agrees to cooperate with the investigation. He eventually testified that Trump and two of his children attempted to defraud the taxman.
The Trump Organization was found guilty on all charges of tax fraud and additional crimes December 6. Trump was not charged personally. Both he and his children deny involvement.
Mark Pomerantz, a high-ranking New York prosecutor resigned from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office because the new DA Alvin Bragg was hesitant to charge Donald Trump
In January, Manhattan’s DA Bragg is said to have ‘jumpstarted’ the legal probe into Donald Trump over hush-money payments.
On January 17, he met with Cohen for the first time.
Two weeks later, it was reported a grand jury had been assembled to examine evidence in Bragg’s probe.
On March 8, former Trump senior counselor Kellyanne Conway met with Bragg’s team to discuss the payment.
She was connected to the probe after being named in Cohen’s 2020 memoir as a middle man between himself and the president to tell him the payment had been made.
The next day, Bragg’s office invited Trump to testify. A spokesperson responded by calling the effort to indict him ‘insane.’
‘For the past five years, the DA’s office has been on a Witch Hunt, investigating every aspect of President Trump’s life, and they’ve come up empty at every turn – and now this.’
On March 13, a lawyer for Trump confirmed the former president will not testify. Cohen, however, did testify on this day and two days later.
An attorney for Daniels also confirmed she spoke with Bragg’s office.
On March 30, Trump was indicted by the grand jury.