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Donald Trump 'to appear in court on Tuesday' facing '30 charges' over hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels
31 March 2023, 05:13 | Updated: 31 March 2023, 08:31
Donald Trump is expected to appear in court on Tuesday to be accused of over 30 charges related to hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, after a New York grand jury voted to indict him
Mr Trump's lawyer Joe Tacopina has said he has been told his client faces an indictment in New York, making him the first former US president to be charged with a crime.
Mr Trump called the charge "election interference", saying that he is "completely innocent" and the "victim of a corrupt and distorted version of the American justice system".
His legal team have said that they will "vigorously fight the indictment in court".
The former president has been indicted over alleged crimes relating to a $130,000 (£105,000) payment to Ms Daniels towards the end of the 2016 presidential election campaign.
Ms Daniels alleges that she had sex with Mr Trump a decade before he became president, which he denies.
Susan Necheles, another lawyer for Mr Trump, told reporters she expects the arraignment - his initial court appearance - to be on Tuesday (April 4).
US media are reporting that the former president, who wants to run again in 2024, will face more than 30 charges related to business fraud. The exact charges have not been made public yet.
Mr Trump is still popular with his base, and is leading in polls for the Republican primary. Police in New York have been ordered to stand ready in case of crowd trouble amid expected anger among his supporters over the charges.
In a statement, Mr Trump said: "This is political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history.
"From the time I came down the golden escalator at Trump Tower, and even before I was sworn in as your president of the United States, the radical left Democrats - the enemy of the hard-working men and women of this country - have been engaged in a witch-hunt to destroy the Make America Great Again movement.
"You remember it just like I do: Russia, Russia, Russia; the Mueller Hoax; Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine; Impeachment Hoax 1; Impeachment Hoax 2; the illegal and unconstitutional Mar-a-Lago raid; and now this.
"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.
"Never before in our nation’s history has this been done.
"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."
He continued: "Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who was hand-picked and funded by George Soros, is 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. This is how Bragg spends his time!
"I believe this witch-hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden. The American people realize exactly what the radical left Democrats are doing here.
"Everyone can see it. So our movement, and our party - united and strong - will first defeat Alvin Bragg, and then we will defeat Joe Biden, and we are going to throw every last one of these crooked Democrats out of office so we can MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"
A spokesperson for Alvin Bragg's office said: "This evening we contacted Mr Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan DA’s Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal.
"Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”
Eric Trump, his son, said in a statement: "This is third world prosecutorial misconduct. It is the opportunistic targeting of a political opponent in a campaign year.
This is third world prosecutorial misconduct. It is the opportunistic targeting of a political opponent in a campaign year.— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) March 30, 2023
The former president's spokesman, Taylor Budowich said: "This is not an indictment for a crime - there was no crime."
Meanwhile, Republicans across the country have been reacting to news of Mr Trump's indictment, with Matt Gaetz saying it is a "politically motivated prosecution".
The hush money case in New York that has led to criminal charges against Donald Trump is just one of a number of investigations that could pose legal problems for the former US president.
Florida Governor has waded in on Mr Trump's indictment, labelling it "un-American".
Mr Trump current lives in Florida, meaning he will need to be in New York to be arrested.
Mr DeSantis, who is a possible opponent of Mr Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination, said he would "not assist in an extradition request" from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
"The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head. It is un-American," Mr DeSantis said.