© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks on education as he holds a campaign rally with supporters, in Davenport, Iowa, U.S. March 13, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Donald Trump could be charged in New York as soon as this week for allegedly covering up hush money payments to a porn star during his 2016 presidential campaign, nearly seven years after the money changed changes.
But any trial of the former U.S. president would still be more than a year away, legal experts said, and could coincide with the final months of the 2024 presidential campaign as Trump seeks a return to the White House.
In a social media post on Saturday, Trump said he expected to be arrested on Tuesday and called on his followers to protest, though a spokesperson later said Trump has not been notified of any pending arrest.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has presented evidence to a New York grand jury about a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in the waning days of the 2016 presidential campaign in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair, according to sources. Trump has denied the affair, and his lawyer has accused Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, of extortion.
Were he charged, Trump would become the first former U.S. president to face criminal prosecution. Polls show him leading other potential rivals for the Republican nomination, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is widely expected to mount a White House bid.
The average criminal case in New York takes more than a year to move from indictment to trial, said Karen Friedman Agnifilo, former Manhattan chief assistant district attorney, and Trump’s case is far from typical.
That raises the possibility of Trump having to stand trial in the middle of the 2024 presidential campaign, or even after Election Day, though putting a president-elect or president on trial for state charges would enter uncharted legal waters. If elected, he would not hold the power to pardon himself of state charges.
“This is so unprecedented that it’s hard for me to say,” Agnifilo said when asked whether a judge would put Trump on trial close to the election. “I think it’s tricky.”
The New York case is one of several focused on Trump, including a Georgia election interference probe and a pair of federal investigations into his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters trying to overturn his…
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