Donald Trump has become the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges after a grand jury in New York voted to indict him over an alleged hush money payment. Adult-film star Stormy Daniels claims she was paid $130,000 by Trump during the 2016 election to keep quiet about an affair that took place a decade earlier.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said she had signed a nondisclosure agreement in October 2016 in exchange for her silence. Trump has denied the affair but admitted to the payment, stating that it was to stop her “false and extortionist accusations.”
It is not every day that a former leader from a modern democratic nation is indicted, but it has become more common in recent years. Over a decade ago, Jacques Chirac of France became the first former president to be convicted of a crime. In 2011, he was given a two-year suspended sentence for embezzling public funds to illegally finance his political party.
Ten years later, his successor Nicolas Sarkozy was found guilty of corruption after attempting to bribe a judge. Months later, he was convicted again but this time for illegally funding his 2012 election campaign. He was handed his second one-year sentence, but the court ruled he was allowed to serve his jail time at home.
In neighboring Italy, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud in 2013 which led to his expulsion from Parliament by the Senate. This was only temporary as he won a seat in the Senate in 2022. Berlusconi is better known for the several court cases tied to his infamous “bunga bunga” parties that he held while in office. Some of the egregious crimes he was accused of included the rape of an underage girl. He was acquitted of all charges.
On the other side of the world, South Korea has seen two former presidents convicted of various crimes, including bribery and corruption. A third, Roh Moo-hyun, took his own life before his corruption case was brought to court. He had denied that the $6 million payments given to his relatives while in office were bribes.
In Israel, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former President Moshe Katsav were both given prison sentences between 2011 and 2014. Meanwhile, current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on trial for corruption. Netanyahu’s government recently pushed ahead with plans that would see the country’s judicial system weakened. As a result, 700,000 Israelis took to the streets in protest. The prime minister promised a monthlong delay to bring in the legislation, saying he was seeking to “avoid civil war.”