Former President Donald Trump has responded angrily after a New York grand jury voted to indict him for his involvement in paying hush money to Stormy Daniels, a former adult film star.
“This is political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history,” Mr Trump said on his social media site, Truth Social.
The former president condemned the Manhattan District Attorney by name, calling Alvin Bragg a “disgrace” and accusing him of doing [US President] Joe Biden’s "dirty work".
Kevin McCarthy, Speaker of the House of Representatives, also criticised Mr Bragg.
"Alvin Bragg has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our presidential election," Mr McCarthy wrote on Twitter.
"As he routinely frees violent criminals to terrorise the public, he weaponised our sacred system of justice against president Donald Trump."
Mr Trump is the first former president to face criminal charges.
The indictment is expected to have a significant effect on the 2024 election campaign and the former president, who is the current frontrunner for the Republican nomination, accused Democrats of being behind the process.
“The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to ‘Get Trump'," he said.
"But now they’ve done the unthinkable — indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant election interference,” he said.
A representative for the Democratic National Committee issued a statement on the indictment on Twitter.
“No matter what happens in Trump’s upcoming legal proceedings, it’s obvious the Republican Party remains firmly in the hold of Donald Trump and Maga [Make America Great Again] Republicans,” said Ammar Moussa, the committee's national press secretary.
“We will continue to hold Trump and all Republican candidates accountable for the extreme Maga agenda that includes banning abortion, cutting social security and medicare, and undermining free and fair elections.”
The head of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, also sought to discredit the indictment on social media.
“When our justice system is weaponised as a political tool, it endangers all of us,” she said on Twitter.
Ms McDaniel called the move a “blatant abuse of power".