Donald Trump: Why former US President could be arrested - what might the charges be and when it could happen

Former US president Donald Trump is being investigated by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office over alleged payments to adult actress Stormy Daniels in the run up to the 2016 election
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In a post on his Truth Social platform on Saturday, Donald Trump said he expected to be arrested on Tuesday (March 21) over alleged payments made shortly before the 2016 US election which saw him become president.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has spent nearly five years investigating Mr Trump and has presented evidence to a New York grand jury that relates to a payment made to Ms Daniels during the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign. They allege the payment was given in exchange for Ms Daniels’ silence about an affair between her and Mr Trump.

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In a statement, Donald Trump described the investigation as a "political witch-hunt trying to take down the leading candidate, by far, in the Republican Party". He added: “I did absolutely nothing wrong” and criticised a “corrupt, depraved and weaponised justice system”.

What is Donald Trump accused of? 

In the run up to the 2016 US election, adult film star Stormy Daniels contacted media outlets offering to sell her account of what she said was an adulterous affair she had with Donald Trump in 2006. After getting wind of this, Mr Trump’s team and his then lawyer Michael Cohen, allegedly paid $130,000 to Ms Daniels to keep quiet.

Though paying Ms Daniels is not illegal, when Mr Trump reimbursed his lawyer Mr Cohen, the record for the payment says it was for legal fees. Prosecutors say this amounts to Mr Trump falsifying business records, which is a misdemeanour - a criminal offence - in New York.

Prosecutors may also allege that this breaks US election law, as his attempt to hide the payments to Ms Daniels were motivated by not wanting voters to know he had an affair with her. Covering up a crime by falsifying records would be a felony, which is a more serious charge.

Donald Trump’s White House has failed to report more than 100 gifts from foreign nations worth more than a quarter of a million dollars, according to a US government report. Credit: Getty ImagesDonald Trump’s White House has failed to report more than 100 gifts from foreign nations worth more than a quarter of a million dollars, according to a US government report. Credit: Getty Images
Donald Trump’s White House has failed to report more than 100 gifts from foreign nations worth more than a quarter of a million dollars, according to a US government report. Credit: Getty Images

Could Donald Trump be charged? 

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New York City District Attorney Alvin Bragg will be the one who decides whether to file charges against Mr Trump. He set up the grand jury to investigate whether there was enough evidence to pursue a prosecution.

What happens if Trump is arrested? 

An arrest would mean Donald Trump could travel from his home at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, to make an appearance at the New York city court, complete with a formal booking, fingerprints and mugshot. He would be the first US president to face criminal charges.