What to know about Trump’s historic indictment
Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, March 31.
Well, here we are. Donald Trump has become the first former U.S. president to be criminally prosecuted.
The 45th president was indicted Thursday in New York City, on charges related to the much-reported $130,000 payment that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election — allegedly intended to keep Daniels from publicly saying she’d had an affair with Trump. The specific criminal charges against the former president haven’t been disclosed yet.
Manhattan Dist. Atty. Alvin Bragg’s office contacted Trump’s attorney Thursday to “coordinate his surrender ... for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment,” according to a D.A. spokesperson. An arraignment date is not yet set (and don’t expect a public arrest).
The former president released a capital-letter-rich statement calling the indictment “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history,” as well as a “Witch-Hunt” fueled by “Radical Left Democrats.”
Unsurprisingly (by recent standards, at least), response to the news has fallen along party lines — the Republican establishment and Trump loyalists call it a “witch hunt”; Democrats call it proof that no one is above the law.
Earlier this month on his Truth Social site, Trump had called on supporters to “PROTEST” and “TAKE BACK OUR NATION!” saying his arrest was imminent. Police in New York and Los Angeles braced for disruptions at the time.
Elected leaders across the U.S., including many prominent California politicians, are now weighing in on an unfolding case that will have deep national ramifications.
“If the grand jury found probable cause to believe Donald J. Trump committed a crime, and the district attorney believes it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, this step, while unprecedented, is also deeply and fundamentally necessary to preserve the rule of law,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who prosecuted Trump’s first impeachment in the Senate.
Trump wasted no time in fundraising around the news, asking for contributions “to defend our movement from the never-ending witch hunts and WIN the WHITE HOUSE in 2024.”
Schiff, too, put out a call for donations based on Thursday’s news.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) took aim at Bragg on Twitter, saying he “weaponized our sacred system of justice against President Donald Trump” (echoing a phrase Trump used earlier).
“The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account,” McCarthy tweeted.
That sparked a rebuttal from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance).
This major story is still developing and The Times is following it closely. You can explore more of our coverage here:
- Noah Bierman unpacks what Trump’s indictment means for his political future — and the GOP.
- Here’s what to know about the New York case that led to the indictment — and what’s next for Trump.
- Scandal after scandal, Trump has defied political physics, Mark Z. Barabak writes. Will this time be different?
- The GOP made a devil’s bargain with Trump, David Lauter writes. Now the bill is coming due.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
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A jury found longtime L.A. County politician Mark Ridley-Thomas guilty of federal corruption charges. The former county supervisor and currently suspended L.A. City Council member was convicted on seven of 19 counts in a case stemming from special benefits his son received at USC. Los Angeles Times
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
California’s poorer schools typically have the least experienced teachers. Some experts say boosting salaries could lure more experienced educators to those classrooms, but teachers unions aren’t on board. CalMatters
California’s Latino Caucus is marking 50 years in Sacramento. As leaders look back on the past, they also look forward to the legislative future in a state where Latinos now make up 40% of the population. The Sacramento Bee
One of California’s oldest liberal arts colleges is in crisis. Whittier College is struggling amid dwindling student enrollment and financial woes, further complicated by a slate of resignations and departures from its board of trustees. Los Angeles Times
CRIME, COURTS AND POLICING
San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced he will resign in the wake of a civil sexual harassment and assault lawsuit brought against him. Fletcher acknowledged inappropriate behavior with a former Metropolitan Transit System public relations officer who accused him of kissing and groping her. San Diego Union-Tribune
A big-game hunter from Northern California could face up to 26 years in prison for allegedly smuggling the corpse of a rare sheep from Pakistan. Prosecutors say Jason Keith Bruce, of Galt, violated the Endangered Species Act and attempted to enter San Francisco airport customs with several animal corpses. Los Angeles Times
Support our journalism
If you go by the calendar, the first day of spring was March 20. But for me, the season officially starts on Major League Baseball’s opening day. California fans had plenty to celebrate Thursday as the Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and Anaheim Angels of not L.A. all led off the 2023 season. Here’s a preview of how the year is shaping up for the Dodgers and Angels. Los Angeles Times
Speaking of spring, it’s set to be a banner year for California’s wildflowers after months of rain. Here are five places to catch colorful superblooms in the Bay Area. The Mercury News
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Today’s California landmark comes from Tim Almodovar, showing love for his recent home: South Lake Tahoe.
I moved here one year ago. I had never been to this area before arriving. The natural beauty is breathtaking and the wonder of sunsets (among other things) has not worn off.
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