Read It: Trump Arraigned on 34 Counts of Falsifying Business Records

Former President Donald J. Trump appeared in court in Manhattan on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records, related to a $130,000 payment to ensure the silence of porn actress Stormy Daniels about their affair.

A grand jury of ordinary people indicted the ex-president on Thursday, as CrimeOnline previously reported. He traveled from Florida to New York for Tuesday’s arraignment and was formally arrested before the court appearance, according to Fox News.

Cameras were not allowed during the arraignment, but photographers were permitted a few pictures before it began.

He was not handcuffed and no mugshot was taken. He was released after the arraignment and returned to Florida, where he was expected to speak later Tuesday night.

The 16-page indictment, unsealed on Tuesday, details the checks, ledger entries, and invoices — some to or from former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to arranging the payments and spent three years in prison — that make up the case.

Donald J. Trump Indictment by kc wildmoon on Scribd

An accompanying “statement of facts” alleges that Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign “employed a ‘catch and kill’ scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects.”  The payments to to Daniels were one part of the scheme, which prosecutors said was aimed at concealing “damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election.”

Judge Juan Merchan set the next hearing in the case for December 4. It’s not known when a trial will take place: Prosecutors are said to be seeking to start as soon as January, but defense attorneys will likely seek to delay until after the November 2024 presidential election.

Merchan did not put a gag order on the case — indeed, neither prosecutors nor the defense requested one. He did caution both sides not to incite violence.

The court proceedings were dignified and proper, while the real circus took place outside the courthouse, where Trump supporters — including Reps. George Santos and Marjorie Taylor Greene — competed with loud and raucous counter-demonstrators who made it virtually impossible to hear what they had to say.

Trump’s indictment and arrest marked the first time a former president has been charged with a crime, but President Ulysses S. Grant was stopped for speeding in his horse and carriage several times in Washington, D.C., while he was still president, CBS News reported. He was arrested during one of those stops.

Another former president, Richard Nixon, likely escaped indictment and arrest when his hand-picked successor, Gerald Ford, pardoned him for any crimes he may have committed.

But chief executives are not immune from criminal charges. Eleven state governors have been tried and convicted — and spent time in prison — just on federal corruption charges related to actions while in office, the most recent being former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who spent eight years in prison after he was impeached and removed from office in 2009.

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[Featured image: Former President Donald Trump appears in court for his arraignment, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in New York. (Curtis Means/Pool Photo via AP)]