Donald Trump is the first former president in U.S. history to be charged with a crime. He arrived in New York on Monday (April 3) to appear in court on Tuesday, following his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury last week. A former president's expected voluntary surrender will be a unique event in multiple ways. Earlier this week, one of Trump's advisers described the MAGA leader's mood as "defiant and focused" as he watched the coverage on a flight from Florida to New York. However, CNN reported that the former president has stayed "surprisingly calm."
Additionally, Trump reportedly spent the weekend in Florida playing golf and thinking about using the indictment to help his campaign. The indictment was said to have caught him and his advisers "off guard." Further, CNN reported that Trump faces more than 30 counts linked to corporate fraud, but the charges remain sealed. Since the 2016 presidential election, the Manhattan District Attorney's office has investigated the former president for his alleged role in a hush-money scheme. Here is what we know about the indictment.
Why Is Donald Trump Facing Charges?
Donald Trump's indictment reportedly included 34 first-degree felony counts of falsifying company records. Technically, the allegations derive from a payment made to Stormy Daniels during the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. This incident occurred when she attempted to sell her story regarding an affair with Trump. Daniels's representatives initially approached The National Enquirer to offer exclusive rights to her story. However, David Pecker, the tabloid publisher and a longtime ally of Trump, agreed to watch for potentially damaging stories about him. At one point, he even agreed to purchase the story of another woman's affair with Trump but never planned to publish it.
However, Pecker didn't purchase Daniels's story. Instead, he and the senior editor of the tabloid facilitated a separate transaction between Michael Cohen, Trump's former attorney, and Daniels's counsel. Cohen reportedly paid $130,000, eventually reimbursed by Trump from the White House. In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including federal campaign finance violations involving hush money. Federal prosecutors determined that the payment constituted an unlawful contribution to Trump's campaign. Nevertheless, in the days after Mr. Cohen's guilty plea, the D.A.'s office initiated its own criminal investigation. As federal prosecutors were investigating Cohen, the district attorney would investigate Trump.
What's To Come
Trump pled not guilty to 34 felony charges. The allegations result from an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who believes that Trump altered corporate documents to conceal harmful information from 2016 election voters. Judge Juan Merchan is presiding over the case, and set the next court date for December 4.
The prosecution wants the opening arguments to begin in January 2024. However, Trump's defense has requested a few additional months, perhaps until Spring 2024. This occurs in the middle of the primary season, which could hamper the former president's attempt for reelection. Nonetheless, the defense may make motions to delay the trial, including a request to move the venue out of Manhattan, where Trump lost the 2020 presidential election by an overwhelming margin.
The Former President's Reactions
Trump and his supporters blasted Democrat District Attorney Alvin Bragg and the grand jury's decision as "the greatest level of Political Persecution and Election Interference." The former president left the courthouse in a motorcade monitored by major cable news networks using aerial footage. Donald Trump's 2024 election campaign began selling T-shirts featuring a fake mugshot for $47.
To conclude a full day of media coverage, Trump attacked the charges as political persecution at Mar-a-Lago. Trump stated, "I never imagined something like this would happen in America." He added, "The only crime I've committed is boldly defending our country against those who wish to destroy it." He downplayed the numerous investigations he is facing, stating that D.A. Bragg had "no case." He also attacked the judge and his family as "Trump-hating" individuals.
Will The Trial Be Broadcasted On TV?
A New York court confirmed that Trump's arraignment would not be televised live. Judge Merchan denied requests from multiple media groups to broadcast Trump's court sessions this week. However, the judge determined that five photographers may still capture Trump and the courtroom before the start of the hearing. Judge Merchan also acknowledged the historical significance of the hearing while rejecting the request to broadcast the arraignment.
"It cannot be argued that this indictment covers a topic of enormous importance," he said. "A serving or former President of the United States has never been indicted on criminal charges. Mr. Trump's arraignment has created unprecedented media and public interest. The populous craves the most accurate and up-to-date information available. To imply otherwise would be dishonest."
Can Trump Still Run For President In 2024?
Certainly, the United States Constitution does not prohibit Trump from continuing his election campaign, notwithstanding his indictment. Theoretically, he could still run for president and win an election while incarcerated. Nevertheless, there are pragmatic concerns. A protracted court battle and trial will significantly disrupt a presidential campaign in terms of time, energy, and the scheduling of election rallies.