Trump’s long-awaited indictment still baffles in NYC court

NEW YORK (AP) — If you didn’t know what you were looking for, you might have missed it. Even then, in the moment it was hard to know that the story was unfolding before your eyes.

The indictment of Donald Trumpthe first by a former US President, was quietly brought into the clerk’s office at the Manhattan Criminal Court just before the close of business on Thursday.

A woman and two men in suits walked past reporters who had staked out the office for weeks, turned a corner and disappeared through a door into a non-public area known as the indictment room.

The mood in the room changed, and then so did the courthouse.

The clerk’s office, normally a busy bustle of attorneys and paralegals searching case files and filing papers, people posting bail, and court clerks cracking jokes, grew quiet and tense.

Moments later, just before 5 p.m., when a reporter asked if there were files on People v. Donald Trump” — her usual closing question in recent days — a normally cheerful clerk replied sternly, “We have no information on this case. The office closes. You have to go.”

The reporters from outlets such as The Associated Press, The New York Times, New York Post and the legal publication Law360 left the office and stood outside in the hallway, watching through glass doors as workers turned off the lights and people who had left a few minutes previously the indictment worked in the dark inside.

“After weeks of visiting the clerk’s office, it was all very strange,” said Frank G. Runyeon, a reporter for Law360. “Very unusual and we knew something was wrong.”

As people continued to work and reporters peered into what was going on, court officials entered the hallway and shooed the press away. That floor of the courthouse is now closed, they said.

The indictment remains classified, its contents classified, likely until Trump is indicted. But news of the indictment, voted on by a grand jury in a courthouse across from the criminal court, was reported in the New York Times just after 5 p.m. It was confirmed minutes later by Trump’s attorneys and eventually in a brief statement from Manhattan prosecutors.

The indictment was widely expected for two weeks, with Trump himself saying he expects to be arrested. And yet it came as a surprise. Reports over the past few days have indicated that the grand jury is on an extended, planned break and is unlikely to consider the Trump affair until late April.

The announcement sent television crews onto the sidewalks around the courthouse complex and brought with them a handful of protesters carrying banners and placards – some anti-Trump, others supporting him.

Police surrounded the courthouse until evening, with floodlights illuminating the sidewalk and streets.

Ditte Lynge, who works for a Danish newspaper that stakes out the courthouse all week, was among the reporters rushing to the scene.

“Everybody follows what’s going on over here,” she said of her audience at home. “It’s historical. It is the first time a former US president has been indicted. So of course it is very interesting.”


Associated Press writer Bobby Caina Calvan contributed to this report.

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