Former US President Donald Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony charges in Manhattan

Monday, April 10, 2023

Police guarding the entrance to the courthouse on Tuesday, after Trump's arraignment.
Image: SWinxy.

Tuesday, former United States President Donald J. Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 charges of felony first-degree falsification of business records in a Manhattan, New York State court. Prosecutors alleged he distorted records to conceal hush money payments his then-attorney, Michael Cohen, made to three individuals during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump surrendered and was fingerprinted, but authorities did not handcuff him or take a mug shot. Trump spent about one hour in the courthouse while he was arraigned. No cameras were permitted.

Alvin Bragg, the district attorney of Manhattan, told press: "These are felony crimes in New York state, no matter who you are. We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct."

Mitt Romney, a US Senator and, like Trump, a Republican, said Trump was "unfit for office" but argued, "the New York prosecutor has stretched to reach felony criminal charges in order to fit a political agenda [...] No one is above the law, not even former presidents, but everyone is entitled to equal treatment under the law. The prosecutor's overreach sets a dangerous precedent for criminalizing political opponents and damages the public's faith in our justice system."

Romney twice voted to convict Trump during the latter's impeachment trials.

Trump is running in the 2024 United States presidential election. However, he would not be the first convicted presidential candidate: in 1920, union leader Eugene V. Debs ran for president while imprisoned and won nearly a million votes.

Trump's campaign created their own mug shot of him, offering it as a reward for US$47 donations.

Trump was indicted by a grand jury on March 30, and the next hearing in the case is scheduled for December 4.

Prosecutors have also opened an investigation of the former president in Georgia and two at the federal level, while New York State has filed suit against him.