Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to charges brought by a Manhattan grand jury Tuesday afternoon in court in New York City after surrendering to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office earlier in the afternoon.
The former president of the United States, and the leading Republican presidential candidate for 2024, was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury Thursday after a years-long investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.
Trump pleaded not guilty during his arraignment before Judge Juan Merchan, the trial judge presiding over the case, in the courtroom on the 15th floor of 100 Centre Street in New York City.
The indictment was unsealed in court Tuesday. Trump has been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.
Trump was not handcuffed, as some are during an arraignment, after making arrangements with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. Detectives within the office handled the arrest of the former president.
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Law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service, New York Police Department, FBI, New York State court officers and the DA's office, met Friday afternoon to finalize details about the logistics and security of Trump's arrest.
TRUMP INDICTED AFTER MANHATTAN DA PROBE FOR HUSH MONEY PAYMENTS
The unprecedented arraignment and indictment of the former president comes after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been investigating Trump for hush money payments made leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
These include the $130,000 payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, and the $150,000 payment made to former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both women were paid for their silence on alleged affairs with Trump — affairs Trump has repeatedly denied.
Those payments had been investigated by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York and by the Federal Election Commission.
Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York opted out of charging Trump related to the Daniels payment in 2019. The Federal Election Commission also tossed its investigation into the matter in 2021.
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Trump has slammed the DA’s investigation and the indictment as "Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history."
"From the time I came down the golden escalator at Trump Tower, and even before I was sworn in as your President of the United States, the Radical Left Democrats- the enemy of the hard-working men and women of this Country- have been engaged in a Witch-Hunt to destroy the Make America Great Again movement," Trump said last week.
"You remember it just like I do: Russia, Russia, Russia; the Mueller Hoax; Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine; Impeachment Hoax 1; Impeachment Hoax 2; the illegal and unconstitutional Mar-a-Lago raid; and now this," Trump said, referring to the investigations that clouded his presidency.
"The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to ‘Get Trump,’ but now they’ve done the unthinkable—indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant Election Interference," Trump said. "Never before in our Nation’s history has this been done."
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He slammed Bragg as a "disgrace" and said he was "hand-picked and funded by George Soros."
"Rather than stop the unprecedented crime wave taking over New York City, he’s doing Joe Biden’s dirty work, ignoring the murders and burglaries and assaults he should be focused on," he said. "This is how Bragg spends his time!"
"I believe this Witch-Hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden," Trump added.
The investigation into Trump was opened in 2019 by then-Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. The probe was focused on possible bank, insurance and tax fraud. The case initially involved financial dealings of Trump’s Manhattan properties, including his flagship Fifth Avenue building, Trump Tower, and the valuation of his 213-acre estate Seven Springs in Westchester.
Last year, the investigation led to tax fraud charges against The Trump Organization and its finance chief Allen Weisselberg.