Why Donald Trump is facing criminal charges

Supporters of Donald Trump express themselves on Lake Worth Lagoon behind his Mar-a-Lago resort after he messaged about his impending arrest - Marco Bello/Reuters
Supporters of Donald Trump express themselves on Lake Worth Lagoon behind his Mar-a-Lago resort after he messaged about his impending arrest - Marco Bello/Reuters

Donald Trump is facing criminal charges over hush money payments he allegedly paid to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

The former president said he was a victim of "political persecution" following the news that a grand jury voted to indict him on Thursday.

Here's everything we know about why Mr Trump is facing charges.

What are the allegations against Donald Trump?

It is alleged he participated in the cover-up of a $130,000 cover-up hush money payment to former porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.

He has denied any crime and said the decision by prosecutors to charge him was an "attack on our country."

Why was the payment made?

It is alleged Mr Trump had an affair with Ms Daniels, which he also denies. He has accused the former porn star of extortion.

But is hush money illegal?

No, not in itself.

Then why is Mr Trump in legal jeopardy?

Because the payment was deemed to be an illegal campaign donation, violating the $2,700 (£2,200) ceiling under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Investigators are also examining whether he falsified business records.

What was Michael Cohen’s role?

He was Mr Trump’s personal lawyer and long-time fixer. He admitted orchestrating the payment and was jailed after pleading guilty in 2018 to violating campaign finance laws.

Where is Donald Trump now?

Mr Trump is believed to be at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. His private Boeing 757 - dubbed Trump Force One - is on the tarmac at Palm Beach International Airport.

What happens next?

Donald Trump is set to appear in court on Tuesday and hear the details of the charges which are currently under court seal.

Mr Trump is likely to be released on bail and his lawyer suggested on Friday that prosecutors have indicated that the former president will not be put in handcuffs.

He will likely have his fingerprints and mugshot taken.

Could he be held in jail pending trial?

Mr Trump would almost certainly be released on bail.

What if he refuses to leave Mar-a-Lago?

Prosecutors would have to seek his extradition from Florida, with the decision resting with the state’s governor – and strongest rival for the presidential nomination – Ron DeSantis.

Mr DeSantis has insisted that he will not abide by any extradition request for Mr Trump.

Could Mr Trump challenge the New York prosecution?

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is an elected Democrat. Mr Trump’s lawyers could argue the prosecution is politically motivated and ask a court to throw it out.

When could a trial take place?

It takes about a year or so for an indictment in New York to come to trial, which means it could coincide with the presidential election campaign. The timetable would be dictated by the trial judge who, legal experts say, face a “tricky dilemma”.

What other legal problems does Mr Trump face?

A Grand Jury in Georgia is investigating his attempt to persuade Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes to give him victory in a key swing state.

The Department of Justice has appointed Jack Smith as a special counsel to examine the events of January 6. The House of Representatives committee, which investigated the riot, accused him of inciting the insurrection.

The Department of Justice is examining the removal of classified documents from the White House which were found at Mar-a-Lago. This could lead to criminal charges.

Could Trump be prevented from running for election?

There is nothing in the US Constitution which disqualifies anyone who is indicted or convicted from running for the White House. But the constitution does ban anyone who engaged in insurrection – a clause added after the Civil War – from standing.