Former US President Donald Trump appears in court on 34 charges
GRIM-faced Donald Trump sat in silence in court yesterday – the first former or sitting US President to be criminally indicted.
The 76-year-old — the front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination — has been formally arrested and charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records.
After an official read out indictment number 71543 at the New York hearing, the former president sat and declared in a throaty voice, “Not guilty.”
Trump is accused of making hush payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal in 2016.
He used to appear calm and mostly stared ahead as he and his legal team entered the room on the 15th floor of the Manhattan Criminal Courts building.
Known as Part 59, it’s the same court where movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was tried for rape and sexual assault.
Before the hearing, Trump’s fingerprints were taken and processed at the courthouse – but his mug shot was not taken.
The hearing was then slightly delayed as his legal team reviewed the charges.
Journalists who were allowed access to the 15th floor were subjected to a bag search. Two dozen police officers guarded the corridor where the toilets were closed.
A total of 24 court security officers and police officers and four Secret Service agents stood guard.
Five artists sat on the jury and furiously tried to capture the unprecedented scene.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg entered the courtroom just before Trump and took the front right seat.
As tension mounted and the temperature rose — the air conditioning wasn’t on and the blinds closed — Trump entered at 2:29 p.m., 14 minutes late.
He wore his signature red tie and dark blue suit.
He slowly walked forward and stared straight ahead.
The ex-president stood with his arms at his sides before being led to a seat on the left where he sat next to his attorneys Susan Necheles and Todd Blanche.
Judge Juan Merchan ordered both sides to calm down after prosecutors complained about Trump’s recent social media posts, including one of him holding a baseball bat to the chief prosecutor’s head in the case.
The judge said he would not issue a gag order, as had been suggested, because Trump is a “candidate for President of the United States” and his “First Amendment rights are vital.”
After the hearing, which lasted just under an hour, Trump took a private jet to his Florida home.
He was supposed to be speaking to his followers from there last night. Trump has denied 44-year-old Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, that they once had sex in 2006.
The alleged affair happened a year after he married his wife, Melania.
He also denies wrongdoing in connection with the £104,000 ($130,000) payment his former lawyer Michael Cohen allegedly gave Daniels to keep quiet about the tryst ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
Before the historic hearing, Trump lashed out at Mr Bragg, claiming prosecutors were influenced by his wife Jamila in bringing the charges.
Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform: “He will go down in court history and his wife, who hates Trump, I’m sure will be very proud of him!”
A grand jury in Manhattan last Thursday voted to indict Trump, but the indictments had remained classified.
Asked about President Joe Biden’s reaction to Trump’s impeachment, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “That’s not his focus today.”
Trump critic Rep Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, tweeted: “A somber moment in the life of our country when it is necessary to indict a former President with criminal charges. With the case in the hands of the District Attorney, we need to recognize what matters most: even the most powerful are held accountable, and no one is above the law.”
Earlier in the day, the former president was seen leaving his residence at Trump Tower in the city.
And he wrote: “On the way to Lower Manhattan, the courthouse.
“Seems so surreal – Wow, they’re going to arrest me.
“I can’t believe this is happening in America. LIKE!”
Trump arrived at the courthouse in Manhattan, flanked by a motorcade from the Secret Service and the police.
Police estimated 300 Trump supporters were near the courthouse, with around 150 demonstrating against him. Scuffles broke out before police separated the groups in a park behind barricades.
Anti-Trump protesters unrolled a sign that read, “Trump lies all the time.” Another said, “Lock him up.”
Meanwhile, Trump supporters waved banners that read “Trump or Death” and wrapped themselves in American flags.
Pro-Trump politician Marjorie Taylor Greene walked through the crowd making bizarre claims comparing him to Jesus.
She said: “President Trump joins some of the most incredible people in history who are being arrested today. Nelson Mandela was arrested and imprisoned.
“Jesus was arrested and murdered by the Roman government.”
Journalists began queuing outside the court at 2 p.m. Monday.
Judge Merchan banned television cameras from the court after Trump’s lawyers argued it would create a “circus-like atmosphere”.
Reporters were banned from using phones and laptops.
Trump is scheduled to appear in court again in December. If found guilty, he could face jail time, although this is believed to be unlikely.
Donald Trump’s 34 counts of impeachment
DONALD Trump denied 34 counts of first-degree business record forgery and conspiracy over his alleged role in giving money to an adult movie star to cover up an affair.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is investigating a $130,000 (£105,000) payment to Stormy Daniels by ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
Trump admitted to paying him a refund, and it’s not illegal, but the record of the payment claimed it was for attorneys’ fees.
Prosecutors say this amounts to falsifying business records, with each check Trump issued counting as a separate indictment.
THE only other sitting or former US President to be arrested was Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 – but he did not end up in court.
The avid horseman was still in office when he was nicked in Washington DC for speeding in a horse-drawn carriage. Cop William West told him apologetically, “Duty is duty, sir.”
Grant couldn’t appear in court, so he sacrificed his $20 bond — about $493 or £394 today.
https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/10471685/president-donald-trump-court-appearance-criminal-charges/ Former US President Donald Trump appears in court on 34 charges