By Patricia Hurtado and Greg Farrell
Donald Trump is right about at least one thing: he’s in an unprecedented situation.
Trump faces a set of legal requirements no American leader has had to confront after being indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on Thursday in a probe of hush money payments to a porn star during his 2016 campaign — a historic event in American law and politics that is certain to divide an already polarized society and electorate.
The 45th president, the first former Oval Office occupant to be indicted, will be fingerprinted and have his mug shot taken like any criminal defendant when he comes to New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan to face the charges, court officials have said.
He probably won’t be handcuffed or led before a scrum of clicking camera shutters in the traditional “perp walk.” And he will almost certainly be released on his own recognizance, under the protection of his Secret Service detail, rather than detained.
He is expected to be arraigned as early as Tuesday, according to his lawyer, Joe Tacopina, who said his client would surrender to authorities.
“Obviously we’re disappointed, but we will swiftly and aggressively fight these charges and pursue justice in this case,” Tacopina said.
Trump said in a statement that the indictment amounts to “political persecution” and “election interference at the highest level in history.” Even some of his potential opponents for the 2024 Republican nomination seemed to agree: his former vice president, Mike Pence, called the indictment “an outrage” on CNN.
The 76-year-old former president does have other investigations hanging over him, but he has stared down legal threats many times in the past. And in both impeachments he faced as president, Trump was acquitted in the Senate, a result many of his core supporters take solace in.
While any legal case against Trump will take months, possibly years, to play out, the indictment will also test a boast the former president once made about his ability to get away with just about anything.
At an Iowa campaign rally in 2016, then-candidate Trump said “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters, OK. It’s, like, incredible.”
With assistance from Erik Larson, Chris Strohm, Mark Niquette, Zoe Tillman, David Voreacos, Margaret Newkirk, Josh Wingrove, Bob Van Voris and Joe Schneider.
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