Donald Trump pleaded not guilty, as expected, shortly after arriving in Manhattan court after being indicted on 34 charges related to the case of porn star Stormy Daniels and how Trump bought her silence.
About 15 minutes late, the former US president entered the courtroom as supporters protested outside the courthouse. Wearing a dark blue suit and red tie, the 76-year-old Trump appeared expressionless as he arrived and greeted supporters by raising his fist.
There were only photographers in the courtroom and no cameras.
The process lasted about two hours and ended when the former president and his entourage left for La Guardia Airport and the return trip to Florida.
Neither upon arrival nor upon departure did Trump say a word to the crowd of reporters waiting outside the courthouse.
The next hearing in this case, with Trump in court, is set for December 4.
Speaking after the proceedings, Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, said the former president is “disappointed and upset” by what happened. He even accused the prosecutor of turning a “purely political matter” into a “political prosecution”.
“It’s not a good day. I didn’t expect this to happen in the country, you don’t expect this for someone who was the president of the United States.” The charges read do not show, as he claimed, that Trump violated state or federal laws. He finally sent the message that in the trial “we will fight it hard”.
Speechless in the room
Trump had entered the courtroom after his lawyers, saying nothing as he walked down the aisle, and – as expected – pleaded “not guilty” to all 34 counts of falsifying business documents.
Falsifying business documents is a felony under New York State law, but the penalties are among the lightest, with a maximum sentence of years for each offense. The New York Times reports that a series of changes in state law have eliminated the bond requirement. The provisions are favorable to those who do not have large incomes, but in this case they will also benefit Trump.
Earlier, before appearing before Judge Juan Mercan, Trump turned himself in to the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. He was fingerprinted but not photographed or handcuffed, according to a New York Times reporter posted on Twitter.
From the car that took him to court, Trump himself posted the following: “I’m headed to Lower Manhattan, to the Courthouse. It seems so surreal – Wow, I’m going to get arrested. I don’t believe this is happening in America.”
When he returns to Florida he will speak to his fans.
Trump’s statements before appearing in court
The former president called it “surreal” that he has to appear before Judge Juan Mercan. He is, moreover, the first former or sitting president of the USA to face criminal prosecution.
On his way to court, Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social, the following: “Going to court in Manhattan. It seems so surreal. Wow, I’m going to get arrested, I can’t believe it. I don’t believe that happens in America. Make America Great Again (MAGA)’.