What Happens Now that Trump’s Indictment is Historic?
The Sealed Indictment
A grand jury has voted to indict former President Donald Trump for covering up hush money paid to Stormy Daniels, but the indictment remains under seal. Charges and evidence against him are not yet known. WNYC reporter Ilya Marritz tells Morning Edition that the grand jury process is “secret by design.” District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office confirmed the decision for indictment, and Trump’s attorney was contacted to prepare for his surrender to authorities. Trump is expected to appear in court on Tuesday at 2:15 p.m. ET.
Indictments are typically unsealed upon a defendant’s arraignment. Trump will most likely go through the typical steps of an arraignment. However, his status as a former president is expected to pose some logistical challenges because of the need for lawyers, cops, the Secret Service, and Trump himself. Cameras are also expected to document Trump’s images. Trump’s lawyers have said that he will not be handcuffed and will enter a not guilty plea.
Legal and Political Questions
While there are legal and political questions unique to a former president, Trump is entitled to the same due process as everyone else. According to Kim Wehle, a former U.S. attorney and law professor at the University of Baltimore, potential charges and penalties are “way, way down the line” due to the procedural, evidentiary and constitutional protections in place.
Matthew Galluzzo, a former prosecutor in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, says a possible conviction is based on the evidence and the people who are considering it. He expects Trump’s strategy to be to delay the trial process as much as possible due to the possibility of not getting a fair trial in Manhattan, where he is widely unpopular. Trump’s defense attorneys are expected to push to have the trial moved somewhere else. Galluzzo expects that pretrial motions, including appeals, could delay the case for two or three years. However, he does not expect to see a settlement deal reached between the two parties.
The Reaction of the Public
The news of Trump’s indictment has sparked strong reactions and raised questions. However, as the indictment remains under seal, a specific charge against Trump is still not confirmed. Defendants generally go before a judge to hear the charges against them and enter a plea. Protesters have gathered in New York City at Trump Tower.