Former President Donald Trump arrested



Lara Hans, Opinion Editor

Former president Donald Trump was arrested on April 4 for 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. The case centers on hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels; Trump’s then-attorney Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 prior to the 2016 election to silence her about an alleged affair she had with Trump in 2006. The former president pleaded not guilty to all counts.

“The only crime I’ve committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it,” Trump said in a speech following his arraignment.

In a 2018 broadcast of CBS 60 Minutes, Daniels came forward with her side of the story. She first met Trump at a celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe in 2006, and they had sex once. At the time, Trump was 60 years old and Daniels was 27. Afterwards, Daniels tried to sell the story to media outlets but was threatened to stay quiet, and in 2016 she signed a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for $130,000.

“And a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,’” Daniels said in a 2018 interview with CNN. “And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone.””
By itself, paying hush money is not a crime. However, the prosecutors have focused their attention on the manner in which Trump recorded his compensation to Cohen. Cohen paid Daniels $130,000, but Trump reimbursed him $420,000 in payments falsely documented as “legal expenses.”

In addition to the Daniels’ payment, Trump’s indictment also includes two others: $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep her quiet about an alleged affair prior to the 2016 election and $30,000 to a Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have information about a child Trump had out of wedlock.

On its own, falsifying business records would only be prosecuted as a misdemeanor in New York. However, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has charged Trump with more serious felony counts by arguing that business records were also falsified to conceal Trump’s violations of the New York Election Law and Federal Campaign Finance Law prior to the 2016 election.

“Manhattan is home to the country’s most significant business market,” Bragg said in a statement following the arraignment. “We cannot allow New York businesses to manipulate their records to cover up criminal conduct.”

Each felony charge carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison, meaning that Trump is technically facing up to 136 years in prison. However, it’s likely that Trump won’t see any jail time based on outcomes from previous cases of defendants in his position with similar profiles: mid-70s, no arrest record, and no clear victim of his alleged crimes. Even so, his arrest marks a historical event, as Trump is the first United States president ever to be criminally indicted.

“These are felony crimes in New York state, no matter who you are,” Bragg said.