Trump indictment reactions: Ex-president rages over politics, while New York Democrats remind that ‘no one is above the law’

Protesters after reported Trump indictment
Anti-Trump protesters outside Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office on March 30, 2023 after reports surfaced that a grand jury voted to indict former President Donald Trump.
Photo by Dean Moses

After news broke that a Manhattan grand jury had indicted Donald Trump late Thursday, it did not take long for New York City’s political class to weigh in.

The New York Times reported that a grand jury had voted on an indictment against the former president according to multiple familiar sources — the first time in American history that a former president has faced criminal charges.

Though the specific charges are not yet public, the indictment stems from an investigation that Manhattan District Attorney’s office made into the hush money that Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen paid to Stormy Daniels, an ex-porn star with whom the Republican former president had an alleged affair before being elected in 2016. The Associated Press reported that a lawyer for Trump confirmed that criminal charges against the former president had been filed.

Of those to publicly respond to the indictment, Trump was one of the first. The Queens native turned Floridian, who has consistently denied the criminal claims, wrote a raging diatribe that he posted to his social media platform Truth Social, in which he called Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and other Democrats “thugs and radical left monsters,” and in one instance misspelled “indicted.” He claimed it was all “political persecution and election interference at the highest level,” though the pending indictment has nothing to do with any election.

Of Trump’s critics, Lower Manhattan Congress Member Dan Goldman, who ran for his seat last summer largely on his record as the former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the first impeachment case against Trump, shot off a quick response to the news that lionized the federal legal system.

“Our nation was founded on the rule of law that mandates that no person is above the law. We are blessed with a legal system that is designed to vindicate the robust rights of all defendants,” he said in a statement. “As the process plays out, every elected official from across the ideological spectrum must make unequivocally clear that there is no room for political violence or interference.”

Several of Trump’s New York City supporters doubled down by responding in lock step with the former president. Congress Member Nicole Maliotakis, of Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn, aimed her criticism at Bragg, and painted the indictment in political terms.

“Instead of locking up dangerous career criminals wreaking havoc on our city, Alvin Bragg has chosen to abuse our tax dollars and his prosecutorial power to politically target a political foe. Shameful,” she wrote.

A crush of news reporters waiting outside Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s officePhoto by Dean Moses
An increased police presence in Lower Manhattan after news broke of the impending indictment against former President Donald TrumpPhoto by Dean Moses

Progressives, like New York Working Families Party Sochie Nnaemeka said that the news shows Trump is not “above the law.” Bronx Congressman Jamaal Bowman said that he hopes the indictment is merely the first of several criminal indictments against Trump, who is also facing a separate federal investigation around his 2020 campaign, and a criminal election subversion probe by a Georgia prosecutor. Bowman shot back at some of the Republican criticism of District Attorney Bragg.

“Republicans will continue to claim this was a political arrest, but they can’t continue to hide behind their lies, misinformation, and racist attacks towards Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. It’s time that we ensure Trump is banned from running for any public office again and from there, finally take action to fix our democracy,” he said.

In the coming week, signs pointed to potential protests across the city. The New York Times reported that former Trump official Sebastian Gorka had appeared on Steve Bannon’s War Room, an online broadcast popular with Trump supporters, to call for his devotees to “peacefully protest” the indictment.

Police sources indicated that the NYPD would be ready for protests centered in Manhattan. NYPD sources told ABC News that all NYPD officers have been “ordered to show up at 7 a.m. on Friday in uniform for deployments around the city.”

That increased presence began Thursday evening near Bragg’s office not long after news of the impending indictment broke, and a swarm of reporters from around the world converged upon the area. Court officers amassed near the entrances, and a police motorcade was dispatched to escort Bragg — the subject of Trump’s rage and numerous threats from his followers — to his residence at the end of a long workday. 

Meanwhile, a few protesters showed up on Thursday night, mostly in favor of Trump’s indictment, hoisting signs professing the former president’s guilt. The celebratory tenor may quickly change once the indictment is unsealed. 

So far, Mayor Eric Adams says, there’s no immediate, credible threat to the city — and that he and the NYPD are keeping a careful eye on the situation.

“The mayor is in constant contact with Commissioner Sewell about all public safety issues affecting the city,” a spokesman for Adams said. “The NYPD continues to monitor all activity and there are no credible threats to the city at this time. The NYPD always remains prepared to respond to events happening on the ground and keep New Yorkers safe.”