Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Tuesday called for cool heads and a fair legal process shortly after Donald Trump made history as the first former president ever to face criminal charges.
"I believe that Mr. Trump will have a fair trial that follows the facts and the law," Schumer said in a statement. "There’s no place in our justice system for any outside influence or intimidation in the legal process. As the trial proceeds, protest is an American right but all protests must be peaceful."
Trump pleaded "not guilty" to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, linked to alleged hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels during the GOP leader’s 2016 campaign.
Whereas his Republican allies have spent Tuesday afternoon casting accusations of partisanship at New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg for running the investigation, Democrats have mostly been restrained in their responses – emphasizing that the judicial process must be allowed to go on without interference.
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Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., one of Trump’s loudest critics when he was in office, was also careful in his statement on the arrest.
"As Donald Trump challenges the legitimacy of our criminal justice system, let us give him the equal protection and due process he’s deprived everyone he’s accused of a crime," Swalwell said. "Justice benefits all of us."
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Democrats were similarly tepid in their reactions last week when Trump was indicted by a grand jury on the criminal charges. By contrast, the GOP coalesced around the ex-president and attacked Bragg as a left-wing ideologue.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who led the House’s first impeachment of Trump after his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, also stressed that his fate was now up to the justice system. But he took a shot at Trump by adding, "nobody is above the law."
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"A somber moment in the life of our country, when it’s necessary to arraign a former president on criminal charges. As the case falls to the DA to prove, we must recognize what is most important: Even the most powerful are held to account, and that nobody is above the law," Schiff said.
Bragg explained the charges at a press conference after Trump left the courthouse on Tuesday.
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"Under New York state law, it is a felony to falsify business records with intent to defraud and intent to conceal another crime. That is exactly what this case is about – thirty-four false statements made to cover up other crimes. These are felony crimes in New York no matter who you are," he said.