Trump surrenders to NY authorities ahead of arraignment
NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump surrendered to authorities Tuesday in a Manhattan court before being indicted on criminal charges stemming from a hush-hush payment to a porn actor during his 2016 campaign.
Dressed in his dark suit and red tie, Trump turned and waved to the crowds outside the building before heading inside to be fingerprinted and processed – a remarkable tally in years investigations into his personal, business and political dealings and a remarkable moment in US history.
He arrived at the courthouse in an eight-car motorcade that took him from Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan via the main north-south highway on the city’s east side, past landmarks such as the United Nations. Along the way, the former volunteer president posted on his social media platform: “Going to Lower Manhattan, to the Courthouse. It seems so REAL – WOW, they’re 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 first learns of the charges against him. Trump will plead not guilty, according to his lawyers, and is expected to enter his own plea, as is standard in court.
Merchan has ruled that television cameras will not be allowed in the courtroom.
Trump, who was twice impeached by the House of Representatives but 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 court by the Secret Service and may be served a glass.
“He’s strong and ready to go,” Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, told The Associated Press. Earlier, Tacopina said in a television interview that the former president would not plead guilty to lesser charges, even if he could settle the case. He also said he didn’t think the case would go to a jury.
New York police said they were bracing for major protests from Trump supporters, who share the former Republican president’s belief that the New York grand jury indictment and three additional pending investigations are politically motivated and intended to undermine the effort. his to retake the White House in 2024. However, reporters often bypassed the protesters.
Trump, a former reality TV star, has used that narrative to his political advantage, saying he raised more than $8 million in the days since the indictment on allegations of a “witch hunt.” His campaign released a fundraising appeal titled “My Last Email Before Arrest,” and he has repeatedly attacked the Manhattan district attorney, urged supporters to protest and claimed without evidence that the judge presiding over the case “hates me me” – something his lawyer has said is not true.
Trump is scheduled to return to his Palm Beach, Florida, home, Mar-a-Lago, on Tuesday evening to deliver remarks, noting his new reality: submitting to the system’s shameful demands of American criminal justice by projecting an atmosphere of defiance and victimhood at festive campaign events. At least 500 prominent supporters have been invited, with some of the most pro-Trump Republicans in Congress expected to attend.
A conviction would not prevent Trump from running for or winning the presidency in 2024.
Inside the Manhattan courtroom, prosecutors led by New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, are expected to unseal the indictment handed down last week by a grand jury. That’s when Trump and his defense attorneys will get their first glimpse of the exact charges against him.
The indictment contains multiple counts of falsifying business records, including at least one felony count, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press last week.
After the indictment, Trump is expected to be released by authorities because the charges against him do not require bail.
The investigation is looking into six-figure payments made to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both say they had sexual encounters with the married Trump years before he entered politics. Trump denies having sex with either woman and has denied any wrongdoing involving the payments.
The trial will take place against the backdrop of tight security in New York, coming more than two years after Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in a failed attempt to stop congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.
Trump was defiant before his accusation. He took to his social media network to complain about going to court in a heavily Democratic district, declaring, “KANGAROO COURT” and “THIS IS NOT WHAT AMERICA SHOULD BE!” He and his campaign have repeatedly attacked Bragg and even trained surveillance on Bragg’s family members.
Despite this, the scenes around Trump Tower and the courthouse where Trump will stand before a judge did not show major disturbances. Police tried to keep protesters supporting the former president and those opposing him separate by confining them to separate sides of a park near the court using metal barricades.
“We are the party of peace,” Greene said, thanking Trump supporters in attendance. “Democrats are communists”.
New York Republican Rep. George Santos also appeared in solidarity with Trump, saying, “I want to support the president.”
“I think this is unprecedented and it’s a bad day for democracy,” Santos said, suggesting that future prosecutors could target Biden and other presidents in other cases, which “undercuts the judicial system.”
One demonstrator held up a sign that read “Trump or death 1776 2024,” but others held placards showing images of Trump in prison.
The public’s fascination with the occasion was palpable Monday as national television broadcast live images of Trump’s motorcade from his Mar-a-Lago club in a private red, white and blue Boeing 757 emblazoned with the name his. From there, Trump was flown to New York, where cameras followed his motorcade into Manhattan and he spent the night in Trump Tower as he prepared to surrender.
The former president and his aides are embracing the media circus. After initially being caught off guard when news of the indictment broke Thursday night, Trump and his team hope to use the case to their advantage. However, they asked the judge in a filing Monday to stop photo and video coverage of the accusation.
New York’s ability to conduct safe and drama-free trials in a case involving a polarizing former president could be an important test case as prosecutors in Atlanta and Washington conduct their own probes into Trump that could result in accusation. Those investigations relate to efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, as well as the possible misuse of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
Many top Republicans, including some of Trump’s potential rivals in next year’s GOP presidential election, have criticized the case against him. Biden, who has yet to formally announce he will seek re-election next year, and other leading Democrats have had little to say about it.
Prosecutors insist their case against Trump has nothing to do with politics.