Former President Donald Trump claimed he is “completely innocent” and a victim of “political persecution” Thursday after becoming the first former president in American history to face a criminal indictment.
The ex-president, who’s holed up at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, declared his innocence in a lengthy statement issued minutes after word emerged that a Manhattan grand jury investigating hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels had voted to indict him on criminal charges.
“The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to ‘Get Trump,’ but now they’ve done the unthinkable — indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant election Interference,” said Trump, who’s the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2024 election.
“Never before in our nation’s history has this been done,” he continued. “The Democrats have cheated countless times over the decades, including spying on my campaign, but weaponizing our justice system to punish a political opponent, who just so happens to be a president of the United States and by far the leading Republican candidate for president, has never happened before. Ever.”
The exact nature of the charges against Trump were not immediately known.
The grand jury has been investigating a $130,000 payment he issued to porn star Stormy Daniels on the eve of the 2016 election.
Trump gave the cash to Daniels in exchange for her promise to not go public with allegations that she had an extramarital affair with him a decade earlier, according to testimony from her and the ex-president’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, who served prison time for helping to orchestrate the payoff.
In his statement, Trump called Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg “a disgrace.”
“Rather than stopping the unprecedented crime wave taking over New York City, he’s doing Joe Biden’s dirty work, ignoring the murders and burglaries and assaults he should be focused on,” Trump said. “This is how Bragg spends his time!”
Trump is expected to be arraigned on the charges in Manhattan Criminal Court. The timing of the arraignment was not immediately clear.
Fabien Levy, a spokesman for Mayor Adams, said security preparations are already underway in the city ahead of the expected arraignment.
“The NYPD continues to monitor all activity and there are no credible threats to the city at this time,” Levy said. “The NYPD always remains prepared to respond to events happening on the ground and keep New Yorkers safe.”
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