(NewsNation) — Donald Trump has become the first former U.S. president to be charged with a crime.
On Thursday, a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Trump on charges related to hush money payments made on his behalf during his 2016 presidential campaign, which catapults the now-candidate Trump into a new era of legal risk and complicates his attempts to return to the White House.
This follows decades of legal investigations that have never resulted in serious consequences.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said Thursday that prosecutors had reached out to Trump’s lawyers to arrange for him to surrender, which could happen early next week.
Is the indictment process different for a former president?
Mitchell Epner told NewsNation that the Secret Service will communicate with the court so that the former president is protected as he follows the usual indictment steps when he surrenders.
Mitchell Epner explained that ordinarily if a defendant self-surrenders, they’d go to the district attorney’s office, get fingerprinted, and have a mug shot taken. After their fingerprints are put into the state’s database, the case can be called in front of a judge.
“Ordinarily, somebody just walks up the front steps … and they go into the court, and they are what’s called arraigned, which means they plead not guilty. There is a bail hearing,” Epner explained. “These days in New York, virtually everybody for a nonviolent offense gets some form of or cognizance, which I am certain President Trump will get. And then he will walk out of the courtroom that day.”
Afterward, potential motions to dismiss the case and potential motions about what is admissible at trial and what won’t be admissible at trial can be submitted, Epner said. Then, after some period of months and sometimes years, they would have a trial.
Prosecutors said they were working to coordinate Trump’s surrender, which sources told NewsNation would most likely happen Tuesday.
Can Trump still run in the 2024 presidential election?
Although it’s never been attempted by a candidate before, Trump is allowed to run for president while under incident or even if he is convicted of a crime.
Under the Constitution, there are only three requirements for people running for U.S. president. They must be at least 35 years of age, a natural-born citizen and must have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years.
Trump meets all of those requirements.
“The states by their legislatures or their judicial systems are not permitted to add to those requirements, Judge Andrew Napolitano, a former New Jersey superior court judge and friend of Mr. Trump, told NewsNation. “He could run for president from a jail cell. As absurd as that sounds, it would be perfectly lawful.”
Trump, who denies the sexual encounters, called the indictment “political persecution” and an attempt to interfere in his presidential campaign.
The former president has said the charges would actually help him in the 2024 presidential race and has tried to use the case to galvanize support.
How are people reacting to the incitement?
Some Republican and independent voters could see the case, at the very least, as another example of problematic baggage that has followed Trump for years and has been a distraction. The news was expected to only fortify existing Democratic opposition to Trump.
Democrats were less vocal in the hours after the indictment became known, but some of the former president’s critics have framed the case as a long-overdue dose of accountability.
President Joe Biden, who is expected to announce he’s running for reelection next year, has not commented on the indictment.
The Democratic National Committee did not comment on the specifics of the case but sought to yoke the entire GOP to Trump.
“No matter what happens in Trump’s upcoming legal proceedings, it’s obvious the Republican Party remains firmly in the hold of Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans,” DNC national press secretary Ammar Moussa said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.