Legal expert examines historic indictment of former President Donald Trump
FOX 2 (WJBK) - On Thursday former President Donald Trump was indicted - creating shockwaves across the country.
"I suspect that they wouldn't have sought the indictment unless they felt like they had a strong prosecutable case," said Richard Broughton. "But it's a defensible case on the part of the trump defense."
Broughton is a professor of law at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.
FOX 2: "Why is this indictment so unprecedented?"
"No president, no former president or a sitting president, has ever been indicted for a crime - this is a first.."
On Thursday, the Manhattan district attorney formally charged Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States with allegedly more than 30 counts related to business fraud. Those details are currently sealed. But we could learn more as early as next week - possibly around the same time Trump is expected to turn himself in.
It’s a complicated case with a lot to consider.
"It's not a conviction. it's not proof beyond a reasonable doubt at trial, the grand jury simply had to have probable cause to believe that a crime was committed here. and so apparently, that's what they found.."
While the last 24 hours have been buzzing, investigations into Trump, his finances, and alleged "hush money" used to pay off former adult film star Stormy Daniels have been ongoing since the 2016 election.
Broughton offered one theory into one potential charge.
"(Former attorney) Michael Cohen makes the payment to Stormy Daniels as hush money to cover up an affair with Donald Trump. And then Trump reimburses Cohen," he said. "But instead of indicating accurately what the payment was, he puts it down as 'legal fees'"
So the idea is he has now perpetrated a fraud by not accurately describing or by deliberately misrepresenting what the business record was."
FOX 2: "Once an individual is indicted, what happens next?"
"He'll be treated like every other criminal defendant," Broughton said. "He'll be booked. he would be fingerprinted. He'd have his photograph taken and he would be arraigned before a before judge in New York, and he'd be informed of the charges against him. and then he'll be given an opportunity to enter a plea."
In short, expect a lengthy process Broughton says, lasting several months - maybe even a year before even getting to trial.
"I think it's likely that we're looking at a trial because I just don't see Trump pleading guilty," Broughton said.
We’re potentially talking early 2024, coincidentally around the Republican nominating process. And yes, Trump can legally run for president again.
"There's no legal disability on his running for president," Broughton said. "Now, whether Republican voters want to make him their nominee is a separate question."
For now, we’ll have to wait and see.