Lesson plan; Trump indictment throws 2024 into uncharted territory

Former president Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury1for hush money payments made leading up to the 2016 presidential election3. This is the first time a former U.S. president has faced criminal charges1. The indictment remains under seal, so the specific charge or charges have not been made public1.

After indictment, Trump will play the victim – and the tactic will work for many Republicans.

The indictment of former President Donald Trump has put the 2024 US presidential election in uncharted territory. It’s possible that the leading contender for the Republican nomination will seek the White House while also facing trial for criminal charges in New York. Those who are considering a primary challenge to Trump were quick to criticise the indictment. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called the move “un-American” without naming Trump. Former Vice President Mike Pence, whose life was threatened after Trump incited an insurrection at the US Capitol, told CNN that the charges were “outrageous”.

Lesson plan via PBS NEWS HOUR:


Former President Donald Trump has been indicted, his lawyer says. It’s the first time any ex-president has been charged in a criminal case and it comes as Trump is running again. Amna Nawaz and Geoff Bennett discussed the case with two former federal prosecutors, Renato Mariotti and Jessica Roth.

Key terms:

Indictment — A charge or formal accusation that someone has committed a crime. Indictments are decided by grand juries, who are presented evidence and witnesses from a prosecutor such as a district attorney. It is important to know that indictments aren’t determinations of guilt, and that the accused are not convicted until they can represent their own case at a trial.

Grand jury — a body of citizens gathered by a prosecutor to determine whether or not an individual should be the subject of criminal charges. Grand juries can decide not to indict based on a prosecutor’s evidence, though they are not tasked with determining guilt or innocence.

For a transcript of this story, click here.


  • Who is interviewed for this story, and what are their backgrounds?
  • Where is Trump facing criminal charges?
  • What is known about the charges so far?
  • How do grand juries determine indictments, according to this story?
  • Why has Trump not yet been arrested, according to this story?

Answer these questions

  1. What is the significance of Trump’s indictment in US presidential history?
  2. How might Trump’s indictment affect public perception of the presidency?
  3. Do you think the anchors and guests for this story clearly explain where their information is coming from?
  4. What did you notice from this story? What did it make you think? What story would you want to find out more about? Where would you go to learn more?


As this story makes clear, Trump’s indictment marks the first time a current or former president has ever been charged with a crime. How do you think such a charge will affect how the the public views the presidency?

Media literacy: This story was broadcast shortly after charges against Trump were first reported in the media, and the details of the indictment were not yet known. How do the anchors and guests for this story make clear what they know and what they don’t know? Do you think they clearly explain where their information is coming from?

Alternative: See, Think, Wonder: What did you notice? What did the story make you think? What story would you want to find out more about? Where would you go to learn more?

I would love to hear from you