North Texas legal experts react to arraignment of former President Donald Trump

North Texas legal experts react to arraignment of former President Donald Trump

DALLAS ( – Former President Donald Trump is now the first former or sitting president to be criminally indicted.

Today, he pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records. The indictment, unsealed Tuesday, details an alleged years-long scheme to hide damaging information and illegal activity from voters ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Trump appeared somber heading into a Manhattan courtroom.

“So he’s not under arrest like people expect, in handcuffs and walking around, but he turned himself in to court,” said Benson Varghese, a criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth.

Television cameras were not allowed inside the hour-long hearing.

It was Trump’s first chance to hear all the allegations against him. He is accused of orchestrating a scheme to buy and bury negative information about him in order to influence the election.

The indictment details three payments Trump made to cover up damaging stories, including one to adult film star and former North Texas resident Stormy Daniels.

It is likely that lawyers will present various preliminary proposals before the next hearing, which is set for December 4.

“Motions to dismiss, motions to change venue — there’s a number that could come up,” said Eric Cedillo, an attorney and SMU law professor. “They may say a new judge is needed because he’s heard a number of cases against the Trump Organization.”

At the end of the trial, Trump was released and soon boarded a flight home to Florida. It could take another year or more before the case goes to trial.

“We certainly don’t expect either side to back down,” Varghese said. “The DA spent a lot of time putting this issue together. The president has already said he’s going to fight this every step of the way. So it’s going to be a long process, a drawn-out process.”

While the legal process plays out, Trump will continue to campaign. He is expected to use the allegations against him to rally the support of Republican voters in his bid for the White House.

“The U.S. Constitution doesn’t say anything about being charged or convicted of a crime, so there’s no legal bar that would prevent him from running,” Varghese said.

His campaign already sent out an email advertising a T-shirt with a fake photo of Trump with the words “Not Guilty,” available for a $47 contribution.

Trump plans to address a crowd of supporters Tuesday evening at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

North Texas legal experts react to the accusation of former President Donald Trump, Caroline Vandergriff

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