In Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday afternoon, Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony criminal charges of falsifying business records.
Trump turned himself in and was arrested on Tuesday. He was then arraigned in a historic and unprecedented court appearance, which was the first time the charges against him were read out loud. Even though the arraignment was routine, the case could affect Trump’s chances of running for president in 2024 as he fights the charges in court and in public.
Prosecutors said that Trump tried to hurt the legitimacy of the 2016 election by paying women who said they had extramarital affairs with him to keep quiet. He said that it didn’t happen.
Prosecutors say that Trump was part of a plan to hide negative information that would hurt his campaign. This plan included an illegal payment of $130,000 to hide the negative information, which was ordered by the defendant.
The charging documents say that Trump “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to hide criminal behavior that kept damaging information from voters during the 2016 presidential election.”
After being charged, Trump took a plane back to Florida right away. At an event with his supporters on Tuesday night at his Mar-a-Lago resort, Trump spoke out against the indictment and showed how he plans to fight the charges politically when he runs for president again in 2024.
During his arraignment on Tuesday, Judge Juan Merchan told him not to say anything that could “threaten the rule of law” or cause civil unrest. However, Trump went off on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and the judge himself later that night.
“I never thought something like this could happen in America, never thought it could happen.” Trump said, “The only crime I’ve done is defend our country without fear from those who want to destroy it.”
He also said, “It’s an insult to our country.”
The indictment against Trump, which was handed down by a grand jury last week, was made public on Tuesday. This gave the public and Trump’s legal team their first look at the specific charges he will face.
Trump’s fellow Republicans were quick to criticize the indictment, and even some lawyers had questions about the case. CNN Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig said that prosecutors will have to prove that Trump committed felonies instead of misdemeanors by showing that the faked records were used to hide another crime that wasn’t named in the indictment.
“One of the complicated legal questions here is that to change it from a misdemeanor to a felony, you have to show that the records were changed to commit another crime,” Honig said. “You heard the defense lawyers complaining about that. I think they were right to do so.”
After the arraignment, Bragg told reporters that the indictment did not say what laws Trump broke because “the law does not require” that.
Bragg pointed out one law that Trump may have broken at the conference: “New York state election law – what makes it illegal to work together to promote a candidate in an illegal way.” He also talked about breaking a federal law that limits how much money can be given to political campaigns.
Bragg said that the evidence will be “proven in a public courtroom in downtown Manhattan.”
The Next Hearing is in December
During the arraignment, the judge told Trump to talk to him, and he did. He told the judge that he was not guilty.
In court, the former president spoke in a quiet tone. He walked in slowly and looked at the reporters in the courtroom. When the judge spoke, he looked at the judge.
The next time Trump’s case will be heard in person in New York is set for December 4.
In addition to the indictment, a 13-page “statement of facts” explained in simple terms how Trump is said to have broken the law to help him win the 2016 presidential election.
The tweet below confirms the news:
Trump faces maximum sentence of 136 years in prison for 34-count indictment https://t.co/kOOm76OsH3
— Fox News (@FoxNews) April 5, 2023
On Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in New York, former President Donald Trump sits at the defense table with his defense team. Trump will go to court in New York City on charges that he lied about business records during an investigation into hush money. He will be the first president ever to be charged with a crime.
The statement of facts says, “From August 2015 to December 2017, the defendant planned with others to influence the 2016 presidential election by finding and buying negative information about him to keep it from getting out and help the defendant’s chances of getting elected.” Prosecutors talked about a “catch and kill” plan to get rid of bad news about Trump “to help his campaign for president.“
The indictment says that each of the criminal charges against Trump is tied to a specific entry in the business records of the Trump Organization.
The prosecutors in Manhattan say that Trump has made false entries in the business records many times.
A judge said Monday night that the proceedings could not be shown on TV. This was in response to a request from CNN and other news outlets. But before the hearing starts, five still photographers were given permission to take pictures of Trump and the courtroom.
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Trump Gives His Answer at Mar-a-Lago
There had been talking that Trump might talk to the media while he was in court on Tuesday, but he didn’t. Instead, Trump answered at his event that night at Mar-a-Lago, where he made his first comments on camera in front of his supporters.
Trump has always denied doing anything wrong and called the charges against him political persecution.
Below are some of the tweets from Trump’s supporters:
Communist Democrats arrested President Trump because he’s the only man standing in their way as they fight for a hostile takeover of America.
We will never abandon him. pic.twitter.com/3gsqZeGMHz
— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) April 4, 2023
El Salvador President Nayib Bukele on Trump indictment: “Imagine if this happened in any other country, where a government arrested the main opposition candidate. The United States ability to use “democracy” as foreign policy is gone.” pic.twitter.com/OAkhs68wcT
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) April 4, 2023
One of a kind! 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/ildzGDpkAa
— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) April 4, 2023
During the arraignment, some of Trump’s comments came to light when prosecutors gave the judge a packet of Trump’s social media posts and told the court that Trump was making threats with “irresponsible” social media posts, pointing to the fact that Trump shared an article with a picture of Trump holding a baseball bat.
Trump’s lawyers said that he has the right to free speech under the First Amendment and that he was expressing his anger over what he thought were illegal leaks of information about the indictment from the district attorney’s office. Trump’s lawyers also said that the things he said on social media were not dangerous.
Merchan said that Trump had the right to free speech, but he warned both sides not to say anything that could “incite violence, cause civil unrest, or put anyone’s safety or well-being at risk.”
No One on Either Side Asked for a Gag Order
In spite of what the judge said, Trump said in his speech on Tuesday night that the judge in the New York case hated him. Trump also attacked Bragg and the indictment, as well as the other prosecutors looking into him, President Joe Biden, and other political opponents.
“This fake case was brought up only to mess up the upcoming election in 2024. “And it should be dropped right away,” said Trump.
Bragg’s indictment is the first time Trump has been charged with a crime, but it’s not the only thing that could get him in trouble with the law: Special counsel Jack Smith is still looking into what role Trump played in the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and how he handled classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
A special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, has finished its investigation into the plans to change the results of the 2020 election in Georgia.
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