Trump Facing at Least 1 Felony Charge in NY Case

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Waco Regional Airport, Saturday, March 25, 2023, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Waco Regional Airport, Saturday, March 25, 2023, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
TT

Trump Facing at Least 1 Felony Charge in NY Case

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Waco Regional Airport, Saturday, March 25, 2023, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Waco Regional Airport, Saturday, March 25, 2023, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Former President Donald Trump is facing multiple charges of falsifying business records, including at least one felony offense, in the indictment handed down by a Manhattan grand jury, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Friday.

He will be formally arrested and arraigned Tuesday in his hush money case, setting the scene for the historic, shocking moment when a former president is forced to stand before a judge to hear the criminal charges against him.

The indictment remained sealed and the specific charges were not immediately known, but details were confirmed by people who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss information that isn't yet public.

The streets outside the courthouse where the arraignment will unfold were calm Friday compared with earlier in the week. There were no large-scale demonstrations for or against Trump, though tourists stopped to take selfies and throngs of reporters and police officers remained assembled.

When Trump turns himself in, he’ll be booked mostly like anyone else facing charges, mug shot, fingerprinting and all. But he isn’t expected to be put in handcuffs; he’ll have Secret Service protection and will almost certainly be released that same day.

In the meantime, Trump's legal team prepared his defense while the prosecutor's office defended the grand jury investigation that propelled the matter toward trial.
Congressional Republicans, as well as Trump himself, contend the whole matter is politically motivated.

“We urge you to refrain from these inflammatory accusations, withdraw your demand for information, and let the criminal justice process proceed without unlawful political interference,” Leslie Dubeck, general counsel in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, wrote in a letter sent Friday to three Republican House committee chairs that was obtained by The Associated Press.

The case is plunging the US into uncharted legal waters, with Trump the first former president ever to face an indictment. And the political implications could be titanic ahead of next year’s presidential election. Trump is in the midst of running for president a third time and has said the case against him could hurt that effort — though his campaign is already furiously raising money by citing it.

The Trump campaign said it raised $4-plus million in the first 24 hours after news of the indictment broke.

Top Republicans also have begun closing ranks around him. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has promised to use congressional oversight to probe Bragg. Reps. James Comer, Jim Jordan and Bryan Steil, the committee chairs whom Bragg addressed in his letter, have asked the district attorney's office for grand jury testimony, documents and copies of any communications with the Justice Department.

Trump's indictment came after a grand jury probe into hush money paid during the 2016 presidential campaign to squelch allegations of an extramarital sexual encounter. The indictment itself has remained sealed, as is standard in New York before an arraignment.

The investigation dug into six-figure payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both claim to have had sexual encounters with the married Trump years before he got into politics. He denies having sexual liaisons with either woman.

Trump also has denied any wrongdoing involving payments and has denounced the investigation as a “scam,” a “persecution,” an injustice. He shouts in all capital letters on his social media platform that the Democrats have “LIED, CHEATED” and more to damage his 2024 presidential run.

Trump lawyer Joseph Tacopina said during TV interviews Friday he would “very aggressively” challenge the legal validity of the Manhattan grand jury indictment. Trump himself, on his social media platform, trained his ire on a new target, complaining that the judge expected to handle the case, Juan Manuel Merchan, “HATES ME.”

The former president is expected to fly to New York on Monday and stay at Trump Tower overnight ahead of his planned arraignment Tuesday, according to two people familiar with his plans who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Trump's travel.

Trump will be arraigned in the same Manhattan courtroom where his company was tried and convicted of tax fraud in December and where disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial took place. On Friday, officials from the Secret Service and the NYPD toured the courthouse and met about security plans.

Court officers ultimately closed and secured access to the 15th floor, where Merchan was continuing to preside over unrelated matters, until Trump's arraignment.

Lawyers involved in the cases and some employees were permitted to stay, but media were chased away by officers, who were standing sentry in front of a bike-rack barricade set up in the hallway. Officers yelled at reporters who ventured up, "This floor is closed,” and ordered them to get back in the elevator and leave.

“Officers have been cautioned to remain vigilant and maintain situational awareness, both inside courthouses and while on perimeter patrols, as evidenced by the incident on Tuesday afternoon outside of Manhattan Supreme Court," the court said in a statement.

Since Trump’s March 18 post claiming his arrest was imminent, authorities have ratcheted up security, deploying additional police officers, lining the streets around the courthouse with barricades and dispatching bomb-sniffing dogs. They’ve had to respond to bomb and death threats, a suspicious powder scare and a pro-Trump protester who was arrested Tuesday after witnesses say she pulled a knife on passersby.

Since no former president had ever been charged with a crime, there's no rulebook for booking the defendant. He will be fingerprinted and have a mug shot taken, and investigators will complete arrest paperwork and check to see if he has any outstanding criminal charges or warrants, according to a person familiar who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive security operations.

All of that activity takes place away from the public. New York law discourages the release of mug shots in most cases. Less clear is whether Trump would seek to have the picture released himself, for political or other reasons.

Once the booking is complete, the former president would appear before a judge for an afternoon arraignment.

Even for defendants who turn themselves in, answering criminal charges in New York generally entails at least several hours of detention while being fingerprinted, photographed, and going through other procedures.

As for the allegations, as Trump ran for president in 2016, his allies paid two women to bury their accusations. The publisher of the supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer paid McDougal $150,000 for rights to her story and sat on it, in an arrangement brokered by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.

After Cohen himself paid Daniels $130,000, Trump’s company reimbursed him, added bonuses and logged the payments as legal expenses.

Federal prosecutors argued — in a 2018 criminal case against Cohen — that the payments equated to illegal aid to Trump’s campaign. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violation charges, but federal prosecutors didn’t go after Trump, who was then in the White House. However, some of their court filings obliquely implicated him as someone who knew about the payment arrangements.

The New York indictment came as Trump contends with other investigations. In Atlanta, prosecutors are considering whether he committed any crimes when trying to get Georgia officials to overturn his narrow 2020 election loss there to Joe Biden.

And, at the federal level, a Justice Department-appointed special counsel also is investigating Trump’s efforts to unravel the national election results. Additionally, the special counsel is examining how and why Trump held onto a cache of top secret government documents at his Florida club and residence, Mar-a-Lago, and whether the ex-president or his representatives tried to obstruct the probe into those documents.



Ukraine Summit Attracts World Leaders, Fails to Isolate Russia

This photograph shows a sign representing Ukraine on the bank of Lake Lucerne in Lucerne, on June 14, 2024, ahead of a Ukraine peace summit on June 15-16, 2024.
This photograph shows a sign representing Ukraine on the bank of Lake Lucerne in Lucerne, on June 14, 2024, ahead of a Ukraine peace summit on June 15-16, 2024.
TT

Ukraine Summit Attracts World Leaders, Fails to Isolate Russia

This photograph shows a sign representing Ukraine on the bank of Lake Lucerne in Lucerne, on June 14, 2024, ahead of a Ukraine peace summit on June 15-16, 2024.
This photograph shows a sign representing Ukraine on the bank of Lake Lucerne in Lucerne, on June 14, 2024, ahead of a Ukraine peace summit on June 15-16, 2024.

World leaders will join Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at a summit this weekend to explore ways of ending the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War Two, but Russia isn't invited and the event will fall short of Kyiv's aim of isolating Moscow.

US Vice President Kamala Harris, French President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of Germany, Italy, Britain, Canada and Japan are among those set to attend the June 15-16 meeting at the Swiss mountaintop resort of Buergenstock.

India, which has helped Moscow survive the shock of economic sanctions, is expected to send a delegation. Turkey and Hungary, which similarly maintain cordial ties with Russia, will be represented by their foreign ministers.

But despite months of intense Ukrainian and Swiss lobbying, some others will not be there, most notably China, a key consumer of Russian oil and supplier of goods that help Moscow maintain its manufacturing base.

"This meeting is already a result," Zelenskiy said in Berlin on Tuesday, while acknowledging the challenge of maintaining international support as the war, now well into its third year, grinds on.

Ninety-two countries and eight organizations will attend, Switzerland said. Organizers preparing a joint statement have battled to strike a balance between condemning Russia's actions and securing as many participants as possible, diplomats say.

A final draft of the summit declaration refers to Russia's "war" against Ukraine, and also underlines commitment to the UN charter and respect for international law, according to two people familiar with the document.

Participants not in agreement with the declaration have until the end of Friday to opt out, the sources said.

The Swiss foreign ministry declined to comment.

Switzerland wants the summit to pave the way for a "future peace process" in which Russia takes part - and to determine which country could take on the next phase.

'FUTILE'

The idea of a summit was originally floated after Zelenskiy presented a 10-point peace plan in late 2022.

Ulrich Schmid, a political scientist and Eastern Europe expert at the University of St. Gallen, said the summit appeared to be "a mixed bag" so far, given the show of support from some quarters and China's absence.

"Then the question arises: is peace actually doable?" Schmid added. "As long as (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is in power... it will be difficult."

Putin said on Friday that Russia would cease fire and enter peace talks if Ukraine dropped its NATO ambitions and withdrew its forces from four Ukrainian regions claimed by Moscow. Kyiv has repeatedly said its territorial integrity is non-negotiable.

Russia, which sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, has described the idea of a summit to which it is not invited as "futile".

Moscow casts its "special military operation" in Ukraine as part of a broader struggle with the West, which it says wants to bring Russia to its knees. Kyiv and the West say this is nonsense and accuse Russia of waging an illegal war of conquest.

Given such entrenched differences, the summit will focus on parts of Zelenskiy's plan broad enough to be palatable to most, if not all, participants. These include the need to guarantee food security, nuclear safety, freedom of navigation, prisoner exchanges, and the return of children, officials said.

Meanwhile, China, along with Brazil, is pushing a separate peace plan for Ukraine that calls for the participation of both warring parties. Moscow has voiced its support for Beijing's efforts to end the conflict.

Kyiv has not hidden its frustration at China's decision to skip the Swiss summit. Zelenskiy even accused Beijing of helping Russia to disrupt it, an extraordinary outburst against a global superpower with unrivalled influence over Moscow.

On the battlefield, the gathering comes at a difficult time for Ukraine. Russian troops, who control around 18% of Ukrainian territory, are advancing in the east in a war that has killed tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians, left villages, towns and cities in ruins and uprooted millions.