Trump to appear in NY court while facing setbacks in other probes
Former U.S. President Donald Trump talks with people at a wrestling competition in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S., March 18, 2023. /CFP
Former U.S. President Donald Trump talks with people at a wrestling competition in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S., March 18, 2023. /CFP

Former U.S. President Donald Trump talks with people at a wrestling competition in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S., March 18, 2023. /CFP

Former U.S. President Donald Trump is set to fly from Florida to New York City on Monday, ahead of his scheduled arraignment related to hush money paid to a porn star before the 2016 election.

Trump, the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges, is due to be arraigned, fingerprinted and photographed at the downtown Manhattan courthouse on Tuesday. His lawyers have said he will enter a plea of not guilty.

The specific charges included in the grand jury indictment have not been disclosed. Tuesday's arraignment marks Trump's first appearance in court and in front of a judge in the hush-money payment case.

A court official said the arraignment is planned for 2:15 p.m. (1815 GMT) on Tuesday and the former president will not be handcuffed. Trump then will return to Florida and deliver remarks at Mar-a-Lago at 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday (0015 GMT on Wednesday), his office said.

An attorney for Trump said on Sunday that he expects to make a motion to dismiss any charges brought by a Manhattan grand jury in the case.

The expected charges against Trump could carry a prison sentence of up to four years if he is convicted, Forbes reported, adding that Manhattan criminal cases typically take more than a year to go to trial and could possibly last until the 2024 election season is well underway, or even after the election takes place.

Setbacks in other probes

While much of the attention will be on the courthouse in lower Manhattan, investigations from Atlanta to Washington will press forward, underscoring the broad range of peril Trump confronts.

The vulnerability Trump faces in Washington alone has become clear over the past month, as judges in a succession of sealed rulings have turned aside the Trump team's efforts to block grand jury testimony — including from his own lawyer and his former vice president — from witnesses who were, or still are, close to him and who could conceivably offer direct insight into key events.

The rulings directing advisers and aides to testify don't suggest that the Justice Department is close to bringing criminal charges, nor do they guarantee that prosecutors can secure testimony valuable to a potential prosecution.

But they're nonetheless a key, closed-door win for the government as it investigates whether classified documents were criminally mishandled at Trump's Florida home and the possible obstruction of that probe, as well as efforts by Trump and his allies to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Meanwhile, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is continuing to investigate attempts by Trump and his allies to undo his election loss in Georgia.

First former U.S. president to face criminal charges

Trump is the first former U.S. president to receive criminal charges. He was impeached twice while in office in 2019 and 2021 respectively.

Other U.S. presidents have also faced impeachment inquiries, though none has been criminally prosecuted, until now.

In 1868, then President Andrew Johnson was impeached for violating the Tenure of Office Act but was eventually acquitted by one vote in the House of Representatives.

Richard Nixon chose to resign in 1974 before facing an impeachment and was pardoned by his successor Gerald Ford after resigning, before any indictments could be handed down due to the Watergate scandal, which stemmed from the Nixon administration's persistent attempts to cover up its involvement in the break-in of the Democratic Party's national headquarters at the Watergate Hotel complex in Washington, D.C.

Bill Clinton was sued by Paula Jones while he was president for sexual harassment and agreed to an out-of-court settlement by paying Jones and her lawyers $850,000 to drop the lawsuit. However, the lawsuit was a catalyst in his 1998 impeachment.

Noting that political scandals including Watergate never put a president in the dock, New York Time's chief White House correspondent Peter Baker wrote that "the only sitting president to see the inside of a police station as a defendant was Ulysses S. Grant, who was stopped for speeding down the streets of Washington in his horse-drawn carriage," in a recent article titled "A president faces prosecution, and a democracy is tested." 

Baker added that Grant paid $20 and went on his way.

With a new precedent now set, Baker asked "will it tear the country apart, as some feared about putting a former president on trial after Watergate?"

(With input from agencies)

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