EXCLUSIVE: Trump family blasts indictment as ‘opportunistic targeting of a political opponent in a campaign year’ – as his son Eric slams New York DA for ‘RUTHLESS’ attack on his father
- Eric Trump, 39, decried the decision to indict his dad over a 2016 hush payment
- The charges are the first time in history an ex-president has faced a criminal case
- Eric slammed it as an ‘attack’ and an example of ‘the decline of American Law’
Donald Trump’s son has decried the recent decision to indict his dad over a 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
Speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com Thursday shortly after a Manhattan grand jury elected to charge Trump criminally for the $130,000 payment, Eric Trump slammed the ruling as a ‘ruthless attack’ and an example of ‘the decline of American Law.’
Still not specified, the charges serve as the first time in history that an ex-president has faced a criminal case – with the exact allegations expected to be announced in the coming days.
The decision – announced Thursday afternoon – further marks the end of a years long investigation into money paid to the adult movie star, allegedly to buy her silence.
It also marks a victory for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office was responsible for the probe into the payment, confirmed to be made by former Trump fixer Michael Cohen during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com shortly after a Manhattan grand jury elected to charge his dad for the $130,000 payment, Eric Trump – seen here outside Trump Tower Fifth Avenue this week – slammed it as a ‘ruthless attack’ and an example of ‘the decline of American Law’
Still not specified, the charges serve as the first time in history that an ex- president has faced a criminal case – with the exact allegations expected to be announced in the coming days The decision – announced Thursday afternoon – also marks the end of a years long investigation into $130,000 paid to Stormy Daniels, allegedly to buy her silence about their affair
‘This is the opportunistic targeting of a political opponent in a campaign year,’ said the 39-year-old second son of the ex-head of state of the grand jury’s decision.
‘They are ruthlessly attacking my father because he dared challenge the political elite,’ he continued. ‘This is Exhibit A to the decline of American Law.’
Eric would share another statement on Twitter shortly thereafter, pointing out that indictment comes nearly four years after the federal government chose not to charge Trump over the same allegations – and on the cusp of the 2024 presidential election.
‘This is third world prosecutorial misconduct. It is the opportunistic targeting of a political opponent in a campaign year.’
Other members of the Trump clan reacted similarly, with eldest scion Donald Trump Jr taking to Truth Social to bash the decision on a livestream to his millions of followers.
He wrote in an accompany post to Twitter: ‘This isn’t just the radical left weaponizing the government to target their political enemies, this is them weaponizing the government to interfere in the 2024 election to stop Trump.
‘The only solution is to shove it down their throats and put him back in the White House!!! #MAGA’
Others to bash the decision included Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who told DailyMail.com the substance of the case against his old Republican rival ‘utter garbage’.
Eric would share another statement on Twitter shortly thereafter, pointing out that indictment comes nearly four years after the federal government chose not to charge Trump over the same allegations – and on the cusp of the 2024 presidential election
Meanwhile, it emerged Thursday that New York prosecutors were also looking to charge Trump over a second, already known payment made to a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, who was the magazine’s ‘Playmate of the Year’ in 1998.
McDougal, 52, alleged she had an affair with Trump in 2006 and 2007, and sold the rights to her story to recently bought-out National Enquirer, for $150,000, also during the buildup to the 2016 presidential election.
However, instead of publishing the story, The Enquirer chose to shelve it – in an ethically dubious journalistic practice known as ‘catch and kill.’
Bragg’s team has already questioned grand jury witnesses about cash given to the McDougal, now 52, sources told The Wall Street Journal shortly before it was announced that charges would be brought against Trump for the Daniels case.
Other members of the Trump clan reacted similarly, with eldest scion Donald Trump Jr, 44, taking to Twitter to bash the decision
A grand jury has been hearing evidence about allegations that Donald Trump paid $130,000 to adult movie star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence over their affair
Meanwhile it also emerged on Thursday New York prosecutors were looking to charge Trump over a $150,000 payment made to another former Playboy model, Karen McDougal
Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg has been widely criticized for his handling of the case. Many say it has no legs and is driven by his own political hatred of Trump
Trump has since denied having an affair with either woman, after it was revealed that his former fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen presided over the payments, as well as longtime Enquirer boss David Pecker.
The allegations came to light when Trump was in office, triggering a full federal investigation – which eventually saw Trump go uncharged.
However, his fixer was not so lucky – Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal charges in 2017, including tax evasion, fraud and campaign finance violations. At the time, he told a court in Manhattan that Trump had directed him to make the payments.
That said, the investigation disappeared from the headlines as other legal cases focused on Trump’s family business dominated the news, including his actions around the time of the January 6, 2021, insurrection.
But the case, while forgotten by some, never truly went away – even after the Justice Department decided to do away with its two-year-long investigation in 2019.
At that point, as the Federal Election Commission remained deadlocked over taking action over claims that the payment amounted to an undeclared campaign contribution, the Manhattan DA said it was still looking at the case.
Little would occur over the next four years until this past January, when Cohen – who finished his Covid-commuted sentence in late 2021 – was seen meeting with investigators from the Bragg’s Office this January.
It soon became clear that a grand jury was hearing and potentially compiling evidence for some investigation, as such hearings are conducted in secret.
Subsequently, theories quickly surfaced as to the nature of the investigation – with some speculating that it pertained to Trump falsifying business records in connection to either one of the payments, which were unmasked by the Wall Street Journal in 2018.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is one of at least 75 liberal district attorneys who have received millions in funding from George Soros-backed political action committees
In 2017 former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal charges, including tax evasion, fraud and campaign finance violations, and he told a court in Manhattan that Trump had directed him to make the payments
Trump used a social media post on Saturday to call on his supporters to protest as he claimed he expects to be arrested as early as Tuesday. Aides say they do not know the timing
The alleged fraud would stem from Trump misreporting the payments as campaign expenditures – a felony.
Typically, such an allegation would result in a misdemeanor – however, in Trump’s case, the charge was upgraded as it was done in conjunction with a second prospective crime, campaign finance violation.
Then, in March, Bragg’s office asked Trump to testify – the clearest sign New York was planning to bring him to court for one of the payments. The Daniels payment was paid out weeks before Trump was elected into office.
Almost immediately, the former president confirmed suspicions swirling around the more-than six-year-old hush payments, posting to social media to call on supporters to rise up in protest.
‘The far and away leading Republican candidate and former president of the United States of America will be arrested on Tuesday of next week,’ he posted on his Truth Social platform. ‘Protest, take our nation back!’
Shortly after, current Trump lawyer Robert Costello was asked to testify by the former president’s legal team, due to him having evidence that may have contradicted Cohen’s account.
Privately, Trump’s allies are confident that the case has little substance.
New York Police Department staff install barricades around the Lower Manhattan court complex ahead of former President Donald Trump’s anticipated indictment
An insider told DailyMail.com that it strengthens him politically, rallying the base in his support. ‘It is very obvious that this is helpful,’ he said.
He added that to get the second charge, elevating the case to a felony, prosecutors would have to show that Trump wanted to cover up an affair to help his campaign, even though the business mogul’s love life had been frontpage news in New York for decades.
‘Of course no one wants to be indicted, but it is helpful politically and legally it’s not even that much of a threat because the case is so weak and looks nakedly political,’ added the source.
Legal experts have also weighed in on the case’s failings.
‘Although it may be politically popular, the case is legally pathetic,’ said Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professof of Public Interest Law at the George Washington University in a column for The Hill.
‘Bragg is struggling to twist state laws to effectively prosecute a federal case long ago rejected by the Justice Department against Trump over his payment of @hush money@ to former stripper Stormy Daniels.
‘In 2018 (yes, that is how long this theory has been around), I wrote how difficult such a federal case would be under existing election laws. Now, six years later, the same theory may be shoehorned into a state claim.’
Meanwhile on Thursday it emerged Manhattan DA Bragg’s team has questioned grand jury witnesses about cash given to Karen McDougal, who was Playboy magazine ‘Playmate of the Year’ in 1998.
McDougal claims she had a ten-month affair with Trump which began in 2006. Trump’s office released a statement on Thursday branding the development a ‘hoax’.
Evidence about payments to McDougal could either be used to bring new charges or establish a ‘pattern of behavior’ for the Daniels case, sources told the Wall Street Journal which revealed the development.
A spokesman for Trump said: ‘It is sad to see radical Democrats and their partners in the media try to resurrect a dead witch hunt.
‘Just like with every other hoax that President Trump has been targeted with, there is no crime, except for election interference through weaponization of our justice system against President Trump and his supporters.’
Bragg’s office and McDougal’s lawyer hadn’t commented on the latest development on Thursday afternoon.
American Media Inc, the owner of the National Enquirer, paid $150,000 to McDougal in 2016 for exclusive rights to the story about her alleged affair with Trump, which he denies. But the purchase was a ‘catch and kill’ tactic to prevent the story being made public.
The Federal Election Commission later ruled that the company and former president Pecker – who was ousted following AMI’s merger with distribution company Accelerate in 2020 – struck the deal with Trump officials in order to suppress the story and ‘prevent it from influencing the election’.
The FEC ruling detailed how Pecker and AMI met with Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen to help make negative stories about Trump and his relationships go away.
It concluded that AMI ‘coordinated’ with the Trump campaign in paying $150,000 to McDougal. Pecker, 71, gave evidence to the Trump grand jury on Monday.
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