Donald Trumpformer president of the United States and favorite to be the Republican candidate for office again in 2024, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records after an investigation into the payment of hush money to a porn star .
Dressed in a dark blue suit and red tie, Trump, 76, showed little emotion as he waved to a crowd gathered outside court after being herded in a motorcade from his New York residence at Trump Tower.
The Republican, who has called the accusations politically motivated, raised his fist in a gesture to reporters as he left Trump Tower.
The former president said nothing as he walked past police and through a courtroom hallway before entering the courtroom.
Trump was indicted last week, becoming the first president, retired or serving, to face criminal charges yet in a case involving a 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
From his motorcade, Trump posted on social media: “I’m heading to Lower Manhattan, to the Courthouse. It looks so SURREAL – WOW, I’m going to be ARRESTED. I can’t believe this is happening in America.”
Trump was due to turn himself in to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office before an appearance before Judge Juan Merchan.
At an arraignment, the defendant hears the charges and can plead guilty. Trump was fingerprinted, but no mugshot was taken, according to a Twitter post by a New York Times journalist.
In other social media posts ahead of the appearance, Trump renewed his attacks on Merchan, who last year presided over a trial in which the Republican’s real estate company was convicted of tax fraud.
Trump, who was president between 2017 and 2021, announced in November his candidacy to return to the White House in 2024 in an attempt to deny the Democrat a second term. Joe Bidenwho defeated him in 2020.
An image taken by a photographer in the courtroom showed Trump seated at the defense table, flanked by lawyers.
Five photographers will be admitted into the room before the appearance begins to take pictures for several minutes. Trump’s lawyers had urged a judge to keep them out, arguing they would worsen “an already almost circus-like atmosphere.”
Hundreds of Trump supporters, in a park across from the Manhattan courthouse, cheered and blew whistles. His critics held up signs, including one of Trump in a striped jail uniform standing behind bars and another that read: “Lock him up.”
Any trial is at least more than a year away, legal experts said. Being charged or even convicted does not legally bar Trump from running for president.
The White House did not rule on what was happening in New York.
I think the American people should rest assured that when there is an ongoing case like this, we don’t comment,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.
Manhattan District Attorney Bragg is scheduled to give a press conference after the arraignment. Trump and his allies have portrayed the case as politically motivated.
In a social media post, Trump called Manhattan Criminal Court a “very unfair place” and urged that the case be moved to the New York borough of Staten Island, which usually votes Republican. It was not clear if his lawyers would ask the court for a change of venue.
Trump will return to Florida and deliver a speech from his Mar-a-Lago resort at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, his office said.
Trump’s lead has widened over his rivals in the race for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday, conducted after news broke that he would face criminal charges.
About 48% of Republicans say they want Trump to be their party’s presidential nominee, up from 44% last month. The Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantissecond, fell from 30% to around 19 percent.
More than two-thirds of those polled said they believed Trump paid hush money to Daniels, but half said they believe the allegations are politically motivated.
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