Donald Trump was just indicted. Now what?


Kellyn Taylor

Illustration by Kellyn Taylor.

By Meg Richards, Staff Writer

Former Pres. Donald Trump has been indicted by a New York grand jury for using campaign funds to pay off adult film star Stormy Daniels and two other women to stay quiet about their extramarital affair. He was charged with 34 felony counts after turning himself in at a Manhattan courthouse Tuesday. He pleaded not guilty to all charges. 

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleges that she received $130,000 in return for staying quiet about a sexual encounter she had with the former president in 2006. According to the BBC, she was legally and physically threatened to keep quiet, and worried for her safety and her family’s. This motivated her to accept the payment.

Trump is the first U.S. president to be indicted, making the 16-page indictment a historic conviction. The prosecution, including Manhattan District attorney Alvin Bragg, outlined how Trump broke New York campaign finance laws and violated corporate records, according to Politico.

Trump’s lawyers are Todd Blanche, Joe Tacopina, and Susan Necheles of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Blanche represented Paul Manafort, former head of the Trump campaign. Manafort was charged as part of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in 2019. He pled guilty to foreign lobbying, witness tampering, tax fraud, and conspiracy.

Tacopina has represented other celebrities in the past, such as Meek Mill, but has not had any affiliation with Trump to date. Necheles represented the Trump Organization in a 2022 criminal trial in which the company was convicted of tax fraud schemes. 

An incriminating fact, included in a subsequent 14-page document by prosecutors, details how Trump deliberately hid this potentially damaging information from voters in 2016.

Moving forward, the key in this case will be how prosecutors obscured this as a felony when compounded with other crimes since, typically, this would be a misdemeanor charge. Furthermore, the severity of these charges lies in the falsification of the payments made to Stormy Daniels for tax claim purposes.

A protective order was issued during Tuesday’s arraignment. Prosecutors specifically wanted to bar the former president from posting discovery materials to social media. This trial will take grueling months to start, potentially not beginning until 2024, when he will begin his presidential campaign. The next date for the case is December 4. 

Political pundits and analysts anticipate this indictment to be positioned as a spectacle of martyrship in order to help his 2024 presidential campaign. Contrarily, some argue that it could hurt him in the upcoming campaign. 

Trump was seen holding his fist high in the air to photographers while walking into the Manhattan district courthouse. 

Since the start of the trial, it has been revealed that Trump is facing 136 years in prison if he is found guilty in all 34 class E felonies, which is unlikely, but possible.