Why has Donald Trump been indicted and can he run for 2024 elections?

With his indictment on Friday, Trump has become the first former US president to face criminal charges

Raghav Aggarwal New Delhi
Donald Trump

Photo: Bloomberg

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On Thursday, a grand jury in New York voted to indict former US president Donald Trump on charges related to hush money payments to an adult film star. Trump will be the first former US president to face criminal charges.
What is the case?

Shortly before Trump ran for the post of US president in 2016, he allegedly paid hush money to adult film-maker and actor Stormy Daniels, whose actual name is Stephanie Clifford. Daniels, who allegedly once had an affair with Trump, had a sexual encounter with him in 2006.
She later publicly acknowledged the encounter with Trump and said that his then-attorney Michael Cohen made a payment of $130,000 to buy Daniels' silence over it. This is the case under which he has been indicted.

Cohen is now an outspoken foe of Trump and has already testified before the grand jury about making the payment to Daniels in October 2016. He said that Trump reimbursed the money via monthly checks of $35,000 from his personal account.
In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to finance charges related to the payment.

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What does Donald Trump say?
Trump denies all wrongdoing. He has repeatedly stated that the investigations against him were "political witch hunts". He also denies having an affair with Daniels. However, he admits to making payments to Cohen, claiming to be a victim of extortion.

What will happen next?
Trump will now be called to the court to answer the criminal charges. He will enter a plea, and further dates for proceedings will be set. Reports suggest that the legal process in such cases is complex, and even years may pass between Trump's indictment and any possible trial.

Does Trump face any other charges?
Trump has several other cases filed against him. The US justice department is investigating his attempted election subversion and incitement of attack on Congress on January 6.

Another case relates to Trump's retention of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence. Prosecutors are figuring out whether Trump willfully retained the documents to obstruct justice.
Trump also faces a defamation charge from an allegation of rape made by writer E Jean Carroll.

Will indictment disqualify Trump from running for US president in 2024?
Trump is eyeing the Republican presidential nomination for the 2024 elections. The main question that arises is that if Trump is convicted, will it bar him from running for the post or if elected, running the country?

Reports suggest that he will still be able to contest and if need be, govern the nation. According to Article 2 of the US Constitution, a person must be of or above 35 years of age, a US resident for 14 years and a natural-born citizen, to run for the top post.
It does not require that the president be free from indictment, conviction or prison. A person under indictment or in prison can run the office.

Moreover, it is uncertain if Trump will be convicted, if he is, before the 2024 elections in November.

First Published: Mar 31 2023 | 4:04 PM IST

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