(AP) — Former President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, according to several news reports.
He entered the plea Tuesday during a brief arraignment in a lower Manhattan courtroom as prosecutors unsealed a grand jury indictment.
The charges stem from a hush money payment to a porn actor during Trump’s 2016 campaign.
A stone-faced Trump entered the courtroom shortly before 2:30 pm without saying anything.
Former President Donald Trump surrendered to authorities Tuesday at a Manhattan courthouse ahead of his arraignment on criminal charges stemming from a hush money payment to a porn actor during his 2016 campaign.
Trump himself described the experience as “SURREAL” as he traveled from Trump Tower to a lower Manhattan courtroom, where he was to face a judge as the first former president in American history to be criminally prosecuted.
The arraignment, though expected to be brief and procedural in nature, amounts to a remarkable reckoning for Trump after years of investigations into his personal, business and political dealings. The case is unfolding against the backdrop not only of his third campaign for the White House but also against other investigations in Washington and Atlanta that might yet produce even more charges.
It represents the new split-screen reality for Trump as he submits to the dour demands of the American criminal justice system while projecting an aura of defiance and victimhood at celebratory campaign events.
Wearing his signature dark suit and red tie, Trump turned and waved to crowds outside the building before heading inside to be fingerprinted and processed. He arrived at court in an eight-car motorcade from Trump Tower, communicating in real time his anger at the process.
“Heading to Lower Manhattan, the Courthouse,” the voluble ex-president posted on his Truth Social platform. “Seems so SURREAL — WOW, they are going to ARREST ME. Can’t believe this is happening in America. MAGA!”
The booking and appearance before Judge Juan Merchan should be relatively brief — though hardly routine — as Trump learns for the first time the charges against him. Trump will plead not guilty, according to his lawyers, and is expected to enter the plea himself, as is standard in the court.
Merchan has ruled that TV cameras won’t be allowed in the courtroom.
Trump, who was impeached twice by the US House but was never convicted in the US Senate, is the first former president to face criminal charges. The nation’s 45th commander in chief was escorted from Trump Tower to the courthouse by the Secret Service and may have his mug shot taken