'Political persecution': Trump calls indictment a 'witch hunt'

For the first time, an ex-president is facing criminal charges. A grand jury in New York voted to indict former President Donald Trump for his alleged role in hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels. 

"I think it’s a sad and sober day for the country," said Adam Schiff, a Democratic congressman from Burbank. Schiff was the lead prosecutor during Trump’s first impeachment trial. He called this an unprecedented moment.

"We’ve never had a president indicted for criminal activity before. So it’s kind of a stain on that office. But at the same time, it’s a reflection of the rule of law working in America. The justice system is holding everyone to account. The rich and powerful as well as ordinary citizens," said Schiff. 

"The former president will have to take a mugshot, he will have to be fingerprinted, he will have to be arraigned," said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School. Levinson said the indictment is expected to include felonies. The charges are not publicly known yet since the indictment is sealed. 

"What do we think we’re going to see? We think we are going to see charges related to falsification of business records. This would then be related to attempted to commit or conceal another crime," said Levinson.


The investigation focused on payments during the 2016 campaign. The accusation is that Trump paid $130,000 to Daniels to cover up an alleged affair but reported it as "reimbursement" to his then-attorney Michael Cohen

Cohen served a prison sentence for his role. 

He released a statement about the indictment, that said in part, "I do take solace in validating the adage that no one is above the law; not even a former [president]." 

In an interview with CNN Thursday night, former Vice President Mike Pence called the indictment an example of the criminalization of politics, saying "The unprecedented indictment of a former president of the United States on a campaign finance issue is an outrage."

Trump blasted the prosecutors in a statement, calling this a "witch hunt." 

In a statement, Trump said, "This is political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history." 

Trump has said he will run for president in 2024