04/05/2023 Ashlyn Wang
Former president Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of first-degree falsifying business records, surrendered Tuesday at a Manhattan court. The charges are related to his hush money payments during the 2016 presidential election, with the intention of securing his path to the White House.
Trump made a court appearance on Tuesday at the Criminal Court Building to face charges. His supporters gathered outside the courthouse for a rally, with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. George Santos of New York. Trump adversaries also showed up, holding banners including “Trump lies all the Times.”
His lawyer, Todd Blanche, expressed Trump’s frustration and belief that “there is a great injustice happening.”
“You don’t expect this to happen to somebody who was president of the United States,” Blanche said.
In a statement of facts released alongside an indictment on Tuesday, prosecutors alleged that Trump “orchestrated a scheme with others to influence the 2016 presidential election by identifying and purchasing negative information about him to suppress its publication and benefit the defendant’s electoral prospects.”
According to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, the scheme involved three payments in concealing information damaging to Trump. His allies paid $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, both of whom claimed they had sexual encounters with Trump years ago. Additionally, $30,000 was paid to a former Trump Tower doorman for attempting to sell information about Trump having a child out of wedlock.
During a post-arraignment press conference, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg explained that, under New York State law, the indictment is considered “a felony to falsify business records, with intent to defraud and an intent to conceal another crime.”
After his arraignment, Trump returned to Florida and delivered a campaign-style speech to his supporters at the Mar-a-Lago resort Tuesday night.
The indictment was the latest in an “onslaught of fraudulent investigations,” Trump said in his speech.
“This fake case was brought only to interfere with the upcoming 2024 election, and it should be dropped immediately,” he said.
According to CNN, the next in-person hearing is planned for Dec. 4. Trump’s team’s motions must be submitted by Aug.8 for the prosecution to react by Sept. 19.