BILLINGS — "The last time we saw this type of political divide, we had a civil war."
Those were alarming words Friday from MSU-Billings Political Science professor Dr. Paul Pope, following news of the indictment of former President Donald Trump.
One day after reports of the indictment emerged for Trump's alleged role in a hush-money payment scheme, Friday brought new information that he’s expected to surrender to authorities on Tuesday.
And many are now bracing for what that could mean, including some in Montana.
This is one day after Thursday’s historic indictment by a grand jury of former President Trump. Trump is facing more than 30 counts related to the alleged hush money he paid to cover up an affair with adult-film actress Stormy Daniels.
The news hasn’t stopped Trump supporters like Red Lodge resident Lee Stevens from continuing to back him.
"My initial reaction is they finally did it. They crossed the Rubicon. They crossed that line which you can’t come back from.... It’s the political system, weaponized to take down the political opponents of the current administration. This type of political persecution, people see. People all across this country and for that matter, people all across the world see this for exactly what this is," said Stevens on Friday.
When Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen faced federal criminal charges, according to court filings, executives with the Trump Organization authorized payments to him that totaled $420,000 to cover his original $130,000 payment to Daniels, additional tax liabilities and a bonus.
"What he ended up going to prison over is that he paid this bribe to Stormy Daniels, to shut her up, the hush money. And that was on behalf of Donald Trump. There’s evidence that’s already been released out in the public for years now that he knew what was going on and he approved of this money which is other information that was included in the grand jury evidence," added Pope.
Pope says Trump’s biggest battle now stems from his former title.
"If the president’s oath of office is to uphold the law, how can we accept that if they’re breaking the law? You can’t uphold the law while simultaneously breaking the law," Pope said.