Donald Trump arrest LIVE updates: Former US president charged over alleged Stormy Daniels payments

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Trump calls indictment ‘political persecution’

Donald Trump has released a statement following news of his indictment. He says this is “political interference at the highest level in history”.

He says “this witch-hunt” will “backfire massively on Joe Biden and the Democrats.

His lawyers have told CNN he is likely to be arraigned next week.

Trump defence lawyer Joe Tacopina said he had just been informed of the charges on Thursday afternoon (local time).

“Obviously we’re disappointed, but we will swiftly and aggressively fight these charges and pursue justice in this case,” he said.

How Trump’s charges came about

The decision to indict Trump over the hush-money payments was made by a Manhattan grand jury that has been hearing evidence in secret for weeks.

The grand jury has been probing Trump’s involvement in a $US130,000 payment made in 2016 to porn actor Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public about a sexual encounter she said she had with the former president years earlier.

Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohn paid Daniels through a shell company before he was reimbursed by Trump, whose company, the Trump Organisation logged the reimbursement as a legal expense.

The investigation centred around payments made by Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.Credit:AP

Earlier in 2016, Cohen also arranged for former Playboy model Karen McDougal to be paid $US150,000 by the publisher of the supermarket tabloid The National Enquirer, which then squelched her story in a journalistically dubious practice known as “catch-and-kill”.

Trump denies having sex with either woman.

Trump’s company “grossed up” Cohen’s reimbursement for the Daniels payment to defray tax payments, according to federal prosecutors who filed criminal charges against the lawyer in connection with the payments in 2018. In all, Cohen got $US360,000 plus a $US60,000 bonus, for a total of $US420,000.

Cohen pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance law in connection with the payments. Federal prosecutors say the payments amounted to illegal, unreported assistance to Trump’s campaign. But they declined to file charges against Trump himself.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s team appears to be looking at whether Trump or anyone committed crimes in New York state in arranging the payments, or in the way they accounted for them internally at the Trump Organisation.

Trump charged

Good morning.

A Manhattan grand jury has voted to indict Donald Trump on charges relating to hush payments he allegedly made during the 2016 presidential campaign to porn star Stormy Daniels.

It is the first-ever criminal case against a former US president and will have huge implications for the 2024 election.

Police and other law enforcement bodies in the US have been preparing for protests and the possibility of more violence after Trump called on his supporters to protest ahead of a possible indictment.

Follow our live coverage as we bring you the reaction and fallout.

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