An ex-Donald Trump adviser argued that to indict a former president “there should be a dead body laying next to him,” after his erstwhile employer was indicted on Thursday by a Manhattan grand jury.
Trump is facing charges over alleged campaign finance violations related to the reported payment of hush money to former adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election. As the indictment remains sealed the exact charges are unknown for now, though Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
The decision to indict Trump, a former president, is without precedent in United States history. It could also have a significant impact on the 2024 presidential race, with polling showing Trump is now the firm favorite to secure the Republican nomination for a third time.
Speaking to The Washington Post about the indictment, David Urban, an adviser to Trump’s 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns, said: “If you’re going to indict the president, there should be a dead body laying next to him. This is far from it.”
Trump is expected to voluntarily travel to New York for a court appearance on Tuesday. Should he refuse to do so, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has said he will “not assist” in any attempt to extradite the Sunshine State resident, though a legal expert told Newsweek this wouldn’t block his potential arrest.
Before his arraignment in court, when the charges are formally announced, Trump is expected to have his fingerprints and mugshot taken, like any other criminal defendant.
He has been accused of orchestrating the payment of $130,000 to Daniels right before the 2016 presidential election so she would keep quiet about an alleged sexual relationship they had a decade prior, and then failing to declare this in accordance with campaign finance rules. He has denied both having an affair with Daniels and having committed any campaign finance violations.
Newsweek reached out to Trump via his official website for comment.
Prominent Republicans reacted with fury to the indictment, with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy claiming Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney behind the move, had “irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election.”
He added: “As he routinely frees violent criminals to terrorize the public, he weaponized our sacred system of justice against President Donald Trump.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence described the indictment as “an outrage” and “a political prosecution,” during an appearance on CNN. Speaking on his Fox News show, Tucker Carlson said: “The rule of law appears to be suspended tonight, not just for Trump, but for anyone who would consider voting for him.”
In a statement, Trump himself described the indictment as “political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history.”
However, the unprecedented legal move was defended by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, the former Democratic speaker, who commented: “No one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence.”