Former President Donald Trump has become the highest-ranking former US official to be indicted as he pursues his bid to get the Republican Party nomination for next year’s election.
While there has been no formal announcement from the Manhattan prosecutor that he has been indicted, several media outlets reported on Thursday that the grand jury had voted to indict Trump on charges relating to hush money paid to a porn star.
Michael Cohen, the former lawyer for Trump, who handled the payment and was the key witness against Trump, issued a statement confirming the indictment.
Trump in a call to ABC TV said that the indictment was “an attack on our country” and an attempt to “impact an election”.
The exact charges were not immediately known as the grand jury hearings and its vote are secret.
Neither the alleged affair nor the payments are of themselves illegal and the potential charges he faces are falsifying business records for allegedly hiding the payments as lawyer’s fees and illegally using the payments to further his election.
Under New York legal procedures, a grand jury – a panel made up of citizens – holds a secret preliminary hearing on allegations to determine whether there is a prima facie case to bring charges for trial.
Stormy Daniels, the porn star, alleged that she had an affair with Trump in 2016.
On the eve of the election in 2016, Cohen paid her to buy her silence and he was himself convicted in relation to the payments.