Former president Donald Trump is under fire and possibly faces arrest for the case of alleged hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels. The grand jury will convene again on Wednesday, March 23, with a decision on his indictment. But before the verdict on whether he’ll be indicted, here’s a rundown of the case and what you need to know.
2016 – A Year Before Being Elected President
In 2016, the Wall Street Journal published an explosive article alleging that the then-presidential candidate Donald Trump had paid off adult film star Stephanie Clifford, a.k.a. Stormy Daniels. According to the write-up, Trump, a business magnate, gave Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about their alleged sexual relations in 2006. By 2005, Trump was already married to his former first lady Melania Trump.
2018 – A Year into His Term as President of the United States
Trump won the election and took office in 2017. A year later, his former lawyer Michael Cohen came forward, saying that he did pay Stormy Daniels $130,000, but said that the money didn’t involve the Trump organization or his campaign.
Following the admission, Cohen’s party allegedly sent a cease and desist letter to Daniels about making future comments on the case. In retaliation, Daniels sued Trump because she did not sign any non-disclosure agreement about their sexual encounters.
After Daniels filed the case, then-president Trump gave a press conference denying Daniels’ claims. He also tweeted about it, saying the whole thing was a “con job.” Daniels sued Trump again in a defamation suit for his tweet.
Trump responded by admitting that money was indeed handed to Daniels but he clarified that it was purely from Cohen and didn’t come from his campaign funds or private contributions.
In August 2018, Cohen surrendered to a slew of charges, including tax evasion and finance violations. He also stated that at Trump’s behest, he gave $130,000 to Stormy Daniels and $150,000 to Karen McDougal, a nude model.
In December of the same year, Cohen’s guilty plea sentenced him to three years in prison and he served his sentence in May 2019.
2019 – Congress Took the Allegations Against Trump Seriously
Because the head of the country was under fire, congress took the matter seriously. They called in Cohen to make a statement on the case.
Cohen alleged that Trump called and instructed him to mislead the public and say that the former president knew nothing about the hush money.
After a few months, a court in New York City requested some documents to be unsealed. These documents proved that Trump indeed played a part in the alleged hush money paid to the adult industry stars.
2020 – Courts Look into Trump’s Finances
The investigation of the alleged hush money case reached the Supreme Court. Trump applied for presidential immunity but his appeal was rejected.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the prosecution, giving them leave to look into Trump’s finances.
After the Supreme Court’s decision, the House of Representatives, together with District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., launched a subpoena to release Trump’s financial records. They requested ten years’ worth of finances from Mazars USA LLP, Trump’s accounting firm. Trump criticized the action, saying that it was unfair and that he was only subject to such intense investigation for political reasons.
2022 – Stormy Daniels Lost the Defamation Case
The case Daniels filed against Trump for defamation reached the final verdict. The courts ruled in favor of Trump and instructed Daniels to pay $300,000 worth of lawyer fees.
2023 – The Case Continues
Although the hush money investigation never stopped after the initial allegations, there wasn’t any breaking news on the matter for a couple of years. But the quiet was broken on March 9, 2023 when a grand jury requested Trump to appear as a witness in the case.
Trump’s legal representative Joseph Tacopina confirmed the invitation to testify posted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
Speculations arose about the investigation proceeding as a criminal case following the prosecution’s request for Trump to testify. As of the date of publication, the public is waiting to see if the former president will be indicted in a criminal case.
Trump’s legal team has said that they will follow whatever the case progresses into. Trump even hinted that if he ever gets arrested, he would want to walk into court in handcuffs, emphasizing how unfair it felt for him, and urging his supporters to protest.
So What Happens Now?
The whole case hinges on how the grand jury will proceed and whether they move to indict him.
But for now, Trump has urged his supporters to protest against the investigation on his behalf. He reiterated that the case was unjust.
All this investigation is happening before the possibility of Trump running for the presidency again in the next election. His campaign expressed his interest to be reelected under the Republican party.
Currently, Trump resides at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida. But if he ends up indicted, Florida law compels him to return to New York to face trial in the New York courts.