US President Joe Biden declines to ‘comment’ on Donald Trump’s indictment

Former president Donald Trump attends a campaign event at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. — Reuters/File

US President Joe Biden declined to comment on the indictment of former president Donald Trump, which was handed down by a Manhattan grand jury on Thursday after a lengthy investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

When asked by Fox News whether he believed the charges were politically motivated, Biden stated that he had no comment on Trump.

The White House has also refrained from offering any official reaction to the charges against Trump.

The investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has centred around hush money payments made by Trump before the 2016 presidential election.

Trump is allegedly involved in the hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels, making him the first ex-president to face criminal charges. However, the exact charges are not yet known as the indictment is currently under seal. According to CNN, the charges against Trump could include more than 30 counts related to business fraud.

Trump denied any wrongdoing and insisted that he is “completely innocent” of all charges. He also vowed not to drop out of the 2024 presidential race despite facing criminal charges, accusing Manhattan District Attorney Bragg of engaging in “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history.” 

The former president also appealed to his supporters to donate money for his legal defence, raising over $2 million since making the plea.

The hush money in question was paid to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, to keep silent about an alleged sexual encounter she had with Trump in 2006. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has said that he coordinated the payments to Daniels and another woman, Karen McDougal, who claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Trump. The former president initially denied any knowledge of the payment to Daniels but later acknowledged reimbursing Cohen for it.

Daniels’ lawyer, Clark Brewster, emphasised that no one is above the law, and Cohen, who pleaded guilty to a campaign-finance violation in 2018, stood by his testimony and evidence provided to prosecutors. 

No former or sitting US president has ever faced criminal charges.

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