Former President Donald Trump may soon face criminal charges for the first time in his 40-year career, as a Manhattan grand jury is expected to indict him this week for falsifying business records related to hush money payments made during his 2016 campaign to women who accused him of sexual encounters. This is one of several investigations that have intensified as Trump mounts his third presidential run. He has denied any allegations of wrongdoing and accuses prosecutors of engaging in a politically motivated “witch hunt” to damage his campaign.
The hush money case involves an encounter in July 2006 between Trump and adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. In her book “Full Disclosure,” Daniels recounts her encounter with Trump at the Nevada golf resort on the shores of Lake Tahoe. The encounter led to a $130,000 “hush money” payment arranged by Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who has since turned against Trump.
An indictment in New York would make Trump the first former president to face a criminal charge, which would carry significant weight for him, threatening his long-established ability to avoid consequences despite entanglement in a dizzying number of cases. Trump has faced legal scrutiny since the 1970s when the Department of Justice brought a racial discrimination case against his family’s real estate business. Since then, Trump and his businesses have been the subject of thousands of civil lawsuits and numerous investigations.
Politically, Trump allies believe the case could benefit the former president in the short term by energizing his base in a competitive Republican primary, and could provide another boost later on if it ultimately fails to yield a conviction. An indictment wouldn’t stop Trump from continuing his campaign, as there is no prohibition against running while facing criminal charges or even following conviction.