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TFK Explains: Trump’s Legal Troubles

FACING CHARGES Donald Trump appears in court with his lawyers on April 4. SETH WENIG—AFP/GETTY IMAGES/POOL

On April 4, Donald Trump was indicted by a grand jury in New York. He is the first United States president to be charged with criminal activity. Here are the details.

What is an indictment?

An indictment is when someone is formally charged with committing a crime. In this case, the charges were brought by Alvin Bragg. He’s the Manhattan district attorney, in New York. A grand jury of 23 people heard the evidence against Trump. They decided he could be charged with crimes.

What are the charges?

Trump has been charged with 34 felonies. A felony is a serious crime. Prosecutors say Trump and his company created false business records. They say Trump did this to hide payments to someone. That person said she had negative information about him. Prosecutors say Trump wanted to keep that information secret to help his chances in the 2016 presidential election.

How has Trump responded?

Trump appeared in court before Judge Juan Merchan, in New York City, and heard the charges against him. He pleaded not guilty to all of them. The trial will probably take place in 2024. A jury will decide if Trump is guilty of the charges.

Can Trump still run for president?

Yes. Trump is running for a second term as president. There are no laws that prohibit this. A person charged with a crime can run for president. This is true even if a person is found guilty and sentenced to prison.

Is Trump facing other legal troubles?

Yes. For example, prosecutors in Georgia are investigating him. They say Trump may have illegally interfered in the state’s 2020 presidential election. There are federal investigations too. One is looking into Trump’s handling of classified documents. Another is looking into his actions leading up to the storming of the U.S. Capitol, on January 6, 2021.

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