Former United States President Donald Trump was on Thursday indicted by a Manhattan jury in a criminal case related to making payments during his 2016 presidential campaign bid to silence an adult film actor, reported the Associated Press

This is the first time a former US president has been criminally charged. The charges remained under seal till late on Thursday but Trump was being investigated for making the payments to silence claims of an extramarital sexual encounter with the actor.

Trump had allegedly paid $130,000 to adult film actor Stormy Daniels through his then lawyer Michael Cohen to keep her from going public about a sexual encounter she claimed to have with him. Cohen paid Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, through a shell company before being reimbursed by the Trump Organization, which logged the reimbursements as legal expenses.

Cohen had also arranged for former Playboy magazine model Karen McDougal to be paid $150,000 by the publisher of the supermarket tabloid The National Enquirer.

The lawyer was found guilty of violating federal campaign finance law for the payments. Federal prosecutors said that the payments amounted to illegal and unreported assistance to Trump’s campaign. However, they did not file charges against Trump.

The former president has denied having sex with the women and described the investigation against him as “political persecution”.

“We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in court,” said Trump’s lawyers Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina

A Manhattan district attorney’s office spokesperson told AP that prosecutors have been coordinating Trump’s surrender with his defence team. The charges will likely be unsealed by a judge in a few days and Trump will have to travel to Manhattan for fingerprinting and other processing then, reported Reuters.

The prosecution means that Trump will have to simultaneously battle for his freedom as well as a shot at the presidency. He also faced other legal threats, including investigations into attempts by him and his allies to undo the 2020 elections as well as into hoarding hundreds of classified documents.