Donald Trump has been indicted on criminal charges stemming from an alleged silent money payment to an adult film actress.
A grand jury in New York has voted to indict Asset over possible breaches relating to a $130,000 (£105,000) payment to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
It was reportedly done in exchange for Daniels’ silence about an alleged sexual encounter she had with Trump a decade earlier.
He is the first former US president to face criminal charges in court, even as he tries to retake the White House in 2024.
Trump, a Republican, said he was “completely innocent” and called the indictment a “political persecution”, with his lawyers saying they will “fight it vigorously”.
Live updates: Prosecutors launch criminal charges against Trump
The Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation has focused on charges of money paid to Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, whom Trump feared would go public with allegations that he had extramarital sex with him.
Federal prosecutors said Trump’s personal attorney at the time, Michael Cohen, made the payment to Daniels at Trump’s direction.
Cohen said Trump made silent payments to Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, as well as McDougal.
Trump denied having had affairs with either of the women.
He said: “Democrats lied, cheated and stole in their obsession with trying to ‘get Trump’, but now they’ve done the unthinkable – indicting a totally innocent person in an act of blatant election interference.”
“Never before in the history of our nation has this been done.”
He added: “I think this witch hunt will massively backfire on Joe Biden.”
Trump was expected to surrender to authorities next week, although details are still being worked out, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly attacked District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation.
His office has spent nearly five years investigating Trump, and the grand jury has been hearing his evidence since January.
Trump’s son denounces indictment
On Twitter, one of Trump’s sons, Eric, wrote: “This is Third World prosecutorial misconduct. This is the opportunistic targeting of a political opponent during a campaign year. .”
Amid speculation in recent weeks that the former US leader should be charged, Trump has urged his supporters to protest authorities if he is detained.
He released a lengthy statement describing the investigation as a “political witch hunt aimed at bringing down the Republican Party’s by far leading contender.”
“I did absolutely nothing wrong,” he said, before criticizing a “corrupt, depraved and armed judicial system”.
Other ongoing cases Trump faces include an investigation into election interference in Georgia and two federal investigations into his role in the Jan. 6, 2001, uprising on the U.S. Capitol.