Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty in Manhattan criminal court Tuesday afternoon to 34 felony criminal allegations of falsifying company records.
In prosecution documents, prosecutors claimed that the former president attempted to undermine the integrity of the 2016 election.
Prosecutors claimed that Trump was part of an illegal conspiracy to suppress unfavorable information, including an unlawful payment of $130,000 ordered by the defendant to hide negative material that might harm his campaign.
Prosecutors said Trump committed the crime of fabricating corporate records in part to “advance his candidacy.”
The grand jury indictment returned against Trump last week was unsealed Tuesday, providing the public – and Trump’s legal team – with the first specifics about the exact allegations he will face. The probe was prompted by a hush payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In the courtroom, the former president’s voice was measured. He entered the courtroom slowly, surveying the media and looking at the judge when he spoke.
Trump appeared at the Manhattan district attorney’s office earlier Tuesday afternoon, where he was arrested and taken into police custody before his arraignment.
The arraignment in Manhattan on Tuesday was a bizarre and significant event in US history. Trump’s next in-person hearing date in New York is December 4.
A judge ruled Monday night that news outlets were not permitted to broadcast the proceedings, denying a request from various media sites, including CNN. But, five still photographers were allowed to film Trump and the courtroom before the hearing began.
It is unclear whether Trump will address in New York. One of Trump’s lawyers, Chris Kise, expected the former president to speak to the cameras outside the courtroom before and after his arraignment.
CNN has learned that Trump has considered saying something while still in Manhattan. Yet, his advisers have warned him that any unplanned statements could jeopardize his case.
Following his court hearing, Trump is scheduled to fly back to Florida and conduct an event at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday evening, allowing the 2024 GOP presidential candidate to respond to the claims.
While Trump’s remarks will indicate how he wants to defend the claims against him in the political arena, the former president is also preparing for the legal battle: On Monday, he appointed a new attorney, Todd Blanche, to serve as lead counsel on his defense team.
The indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is the first criminal accusation leveled against Trump, but it is not the only legal trouble that the former president may face:
Special counsel Jack Smith’s inquiry into Trump’s role in January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and the handling of confidential information at Mar-a-Lago continues.
In addition, a Fulton County special grand jury has completed its investigation into efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election.
Trump landed in New York on Monday afternoon, traveling up from Palm Beach on his private jet. On Tuesday afternoon, he spent overnight in Trump Tower, 4 miles north of the courthouse in central Manhattan.
For weeks, New York police and the US Secret Service have been preparing for Trump’s presence at the courthouse.