Former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally on March 25 at Waco Regional Airport in Waco, Texas C-SPAN

Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, prosecutors and defense lawyers said Thursday, making him the first former U.S. president to face a criminal charge and jolting his bid to retake the White House next year.

The charges center on payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence claims of an extramarital sexual encounter. They mark an extraordinary development after years of investigations into Trump’s business, political and personal dealings.

Connecticut politicians shared their reactions Thursday night.

“No person is above the law – and violations should be pursued no matter how powerful the person is,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said in a statement. “Our justice system has an obligation to pursue the facts and law wherever they lead. Former President Trump will have the same rights as any criminal defendant, and the justice system will presume him innocent until proven guilty.”

Trump, who has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly assailed the investigation, called the indictment “political persecution” and predicted it would damage Democrats in 2024.

“It’s an abuse of power, and it’s wrong for the country,” the Connecticut Republican Party said in a statement on Twitter. “The indictment of former President Donald J. Trump is a troubling harbinger, opening up a new frontier in the weaponization of government by Far-Left Democrats.”

State Democratic leaders also spoke out about the indictment.

“We are not surprised that Donald Trump, who openly flaunted the rule of law and disdained our legal institutions, has now been indicted. We will be following the facts of the case closely and hope justice will be served,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, in a statement.

In a statement confirming the charges, defense lawyers Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina said Trump “did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in court.”

A spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office confirmed the indictment and said prosecutors had reached out to Trump’s defense team to arrange a surrender. A person familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to discuss sealed proceedings, said the surrender was expected to happen next week. District Attorney Alvin Bragg left his office Thursday evening without commenting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This story was first published March 30, 2023 by Connecticut Public.