Pivotal moment in US history as Donald Trump faces criminal charges

Donald Trump was already the first president in US history to be impeached twice. Credit: AP

This is a pivotal moment in US history. For years, we’ve known of the bewildering range of legal jeopardy facing Donald Trump. But this is the first criminal case which has resulted in charges.

Never before has a former US president appeared before a judge facing an indictment.

Donald Trump will be forced to attend the arraignment in person, at a court house in Manhattan. He will be fingerprinted and have his mugshot taken. He’ll have to enter a plea and a date will be set for a further hearing.

It could be a short and simple first appearance but one that sends political shockwaves across the country. 

The charges will be the first of potentially several he’ll face this year. 

The indictment relates to 'hush money' paid to Stormy Daniels (pictured), over an alleged affair she had with Donald Trump. Credit: AP

They include the Georgia case, where he is accused of interfering in the election, calling officials to demand a recount. We’ve already heard the audio of one call to Brad Raffensperger, but there are reports of a second recording where Trump demands the results be overturned.

There is the classified documents case being investigated by the Department of Justice, which relates to the unlawful removal of classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.

There is the Capitol riot case being investigated by the Department of Justice which will likely  focus on Trump’s goading of insurrectionists on January 6 to "fight like hell".

There are also several civil cases against Trump. One involves the New York Attorney General Laetitia James who is suing Trump, his family and the Trump company for financial wrongdoing.

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Another involves a woman, E Jean Carroll, who claims Trump raped her in the 1990s and is suing for damages and defamation, after Trump denied ever having met her.

The Stormy Daniels hush-money case is not the most serious of these but it has the distinction of being the first to result in charges and will no doubt go down in history as a watershed moment in US history.

Even if Donald Trump is convicted of this and other crimes there is nothing in the constitution to stop him running again for president and from serving.

Some analysts here are speculating that the charges will supercharge his election campaign, allowing him to portray himself as a victim of an establishment witch hunt designed to stop him retaking the White House.

But whatever the result of the election in 2024, the campaign now promises to be quite unlike anything we have ever seen in US history. Potentially by then a convicted criminal will be vying to be the Commander-in-Chief.