Former President Donald Trump faced a New York City court on Tuesday, pleading not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.
This comes after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg launched a lengthy investigation into hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign. Despite the seriousness of the charges, Judge [insert name] did not impose a gag order, allowing the case to play out in the public eye.
According to Bragg, Trump “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.” While federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York opted out of charging Trump in 2019, and the Federal Election Commission closed its investigation into the matter in 2021, the former president will now have his day in court.
Donald Trump surrendered to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday, where he was arraigned in court after a grand jury indicted him last week.
During his arraignment, trial Judge Juan Merchan unsealed the indictment, revealing that Trump had been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. The charges are related to hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign and allege that Trump repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public.
With the case now underway, the world is watching to see how this high-profile legal battle will unfold.
“During the election, TRUMP and others employed a ‘catch and kill’ scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleged. “TRUMP then went to great lengths to hide this conduct, causing dozens of false entries in business records to conceal criminal activity, including attempts to violate state and federal election laws.”
As Bragg stated, Donald Trump allegedly falsified New York business records in order to “conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election.”
As Bragg stated, Donald Trump allegedly falsified New York business records in order to “conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election.” With such serious allegations on the table, the stakes are high for both Trump and the American people. The world is watching as this high-profile legal battle unfolds.
As the legal battle heats up, the stakes are high for former President Donald Trump. He has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.
According to New York state law, this charge alleges that the defendant committed a crime of falsifying business records with the intent to defraud, and the intent to defraud would be an intent to commit another crime.
Despite the gravity of the charges, the judge did not impose a gag order. Instead, he expressed a desire to move forward as expeditiously as possible with the case. The next hearing is set for December 4, 2023, in the same Lower Manhattan court.
Prosecution seeks a trial in January 2024 – the height of the GOP presidential primary season.
However, tensions are high as the prosecution seeks a trial in January 2024 – the height of the GOP presidential primary season. Meanwhile, Trump’s defense team wants to delay the trial for as long as possible. The coming months are sure to be full of legal wrangling and political maneuvering as both sides fight for their desired outcome.
In the indictment, Bragg alleged that Trump orchestrated a ‘catch and kill’ scheme from August 2015 to December 2017 through a series of payments, which were concealed through false business entries. As part of this scheme, American Media Inc. allegedly paid $30,000 to a former Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have information about a child Trump had out of wedlock.
Furthermore, Bragg alleges that American Media Inc. paid $150,000 to a woman who claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Trump. It appears that Bragg is referring to former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
According to Bragg’s allegations, Trump “explicitly directed a lawyer” – presumably referring to Michael Cohen – “to ‘reimburse’ American Media Inc. in cash.”
Bragg also claimed that Cohen “12 days before the presidential general election” transferred “$130,000 to an attorney for an adult film actress,” likely referring to Stormy Daniels. While Cohen pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison for campaign finance violations related to these payments, he maintains that Trump was the one who directed him to make the payments.
According to Bragg, Trump reimbursed Cohen through a series of monthly checks after the election. “First from the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust – created in New York to hold the Trump Organization’s assets during TRUMP’s presidency – and later from TRUMP’s bank account. In total, 11 checks were issued for a phony purpose,” Bragg alleged.
Bragg also alleged that Trump signed nine of the 11 checks himself, which were “illegally disguised as a payment for legal services rendered pursuant to a non-existent retainer agreement,” and processed by the Trump Organization.
The indictment further alleges that “in total, 34 false entries were made in New York business records to conceal the initial covert $130,000 payment,” and that “participants in the scheme took steps that mischaracterized, for tax purposes, the true nature of the reimbursements.”
According to reports, former US President Donald Trump, who is also a leading Republican presidential candidate for 2024, was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on Thursday after a years-long investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office that began in 2019. Trump was not handcuffed during his arraignment, as he made arrangements with the DA’s office, and detectives within the office handled his arrest.
The payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal had previously been investigated by the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York and the Federal Election Commission.
Bragg’s charges against Trump come after previous investigations by federal authorities. The Southern District of New York declined to charge Trump in 2019 for the Stormy Daniels payment, and in 2021, the Federal Election Commission dropped its case on the same issue due to a tie vote. The commission failed to “find reason to believe that Donald J. Trump knowingly and willfully violated” federal election law.
“After the arraignment, the People of the State of New York alleged that Donald J. Trump repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal crimes that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election,” Bragg said in a statement.
He further added, “As the Statement of Facts describes, the trail of money and lies exposes a pattern that, the People allege, violates one of New York’s basic and fundamental business laws. As this office has done time and time again, we today uphold our solemn responsibility to ensure that everyone stands equal before the law.”
In response to the DA’s investigation and indictment, Trump has criticized it as “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history.”