RICHMOND, Va. -- Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, prosecutors and defense lawyers said Thursday, making him the first former U.S. president to face a criminal charge and jolting his bid to retake the White House next year.
The charges remained under seal late Thursday, but the investigation centered on payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence claims of an extramarital sexual encounter. Prosecutors said they were working to coordinate Trump's surrender, which could happen early next week.
They did not say whether they intended to seek prison time in the event of a conviction, a development that wouldn't prevent Trump from seeking or winning the presidency.
Legal expert weighs in on what's next
CBS 6's political analyst said that Virginia Republicans didn't perform well in 2016 and 2020 when Trump was most prominent leading the party.
Holsworth said if Trump's legal issues and other investigations dominate the conversation over the summer, it might be more difficult for Republicans to hold the House and take the Senate in Richmond later this year.
When it comes to 2024, it remains to be seen how the party's base will react and whether this gives someone like Governor Glenn Youngkin a chance to gain some support.
"are they going to move over to Ron DeSantis? Is there going to be a lane for someone like Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin to get into the race? We don't know how that's going to play out right now," Holsworth said.
Youngkin has not said that he's running for president but he also hasn't said that he's not.
Virginians share their thoughts
Several prominent Virginia politicians shared statements on Thursday following the indictment.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin
The left’s continued attempts to weaponize our judicial system erode people’s faith in the American justice system and it needs to stop.— Glenn Youngkin (@GlennYoungkin) March 30, 2023
Democratic Party of Virginia
No one is above the law – that is the guiding principle of the American justice system. Today, after years of alleged criminal activity, fraud, malfeasance, and treason, a grand jury in Manhattan has rightfully indicted a man who has habitually used his power and influence to mistreat others and evade the rule of law.
Although it is alarming that Donald Trump, with his moral compass fixed on the south pole, was able to ascend to power, today’s charges should encourage patriots and all who believe in democracy to take heart: even someone who was once the most powerful man in the world is accountable to the system of laws and ideals that govern our country.
Virginia House Speaker Todd Gilbert
America’s slide down the slippery slope to banana republic territory is on full display today. The indictment of former President Trump is political revenge, nothing more. All Americans should be deeply concerned. If a prosecutor can play this fast and loose with the criminal justice system in order to arrest a former President he simply doesn’t like, then our entire political system is in peril.
Virginia House Leader Don Scott
Today is an important day in our democracy. No one is above the law, and Republicans here in Virginia must answer the question of whether they’re going to continue to stand with Trump and his MAGA conspiracies.
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