Trump indictment live updates: Former president pleads not guilty at arraignment

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Wednesday, April 5, 2023
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MANHATTAN, New York (WABC) -- An extraordinary moment in U.S. history is unfolding in a New York courthouse as former President Donald Trump surrendered in Manhattan to be arraigned on criminal charges stemming from 2016 hush money payments.

He pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

Trump has become the first former president to face criminal charges.

He's next due in court on December 4.

Trump, who's running for the White House again in 2024, called the decision by a Manhattan grand jury to indict him "political persecution and election interference at the highest level."

Here are the latest updates:

Bragg: 'We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct'

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg claimed former President Donald Trump "repeatedly made false statements" on New York business records and made others do the same during a press briefing following Tuesday's arraignment.

"These are felony crimes in New York state, no matter who you are," Bragg said. "We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct.

"Bragg said the case, "like so many of our white-collar cases," alleges that "someone lied again and again to protect their interests and evade the laws to which we are all held accountable."

Trump boards private plane on way back to Florida

Indictment unsealed

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. announced the indictment of Donald Trump for falsifying New York business records in order to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election.

Donald Trump leaves courtroom

Trump left the courtroom at 3:25 p.m. after spending 57 minutes inside. He quickly walked past cameras in the hallway and was expected to head to LaGuardia Airport.

Judge warns Trump to avoid inflaming rhetoric

A New York judge warned former President Donald Trump to refrain from rhetoric that could inflame or cause civil unrest during Trump's arraignment Tuesday in Manhattan.

Trump told Judge Juan Merchan that he pleaded not guilty, and the judge advised him of his rights.

Merchan also warned Trump that he could be removed from the courtroom if he is disruptive, but Trump spoke only a few times to respond to questions.

He's next due in court in December. Trump's lawyers asked for him to be excused from attending the hearing in person because of extraordinary security precautions.

The judge said he was not imposing a gag order at this point, but he asked both sides to refrain from comments that could lead to civil unrest.

Trump stayed mostly still with his hands steepled or interlaced and looked ahead during the proceedings, which lasted just over an hour.

Trump pleads not guilty

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

The charges stem from a hush-money payment during the 2016 campaign.

Photos from the courtroom showed Trump sitting at the table reserved for defendants and their attorneys. His legal team surrounded him, two seated on each side of the former president.

Trump leaned forward slightly, his shoulders rounded, but he didn't turn his face away from photographers given permission to be in the courtroom just before the hearing.

Former President Donald Trump sits at the defense table with his defense team in a Manhattan court, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in New York.
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Photo released of Trump at arraignment

A photo has been released of former President Donald Trump sitting between his attorneys at the defense table.

Still cameras were permitted to take photos in the courtroom before the hearing began, but Judge Juan Merchan barred video cameras from the proceedings.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Trump enters courtroom

Former President Donald Trump has entered a Manhattan courtroom at 2:28 p.m. for an unprecedented arraignment.

He emerged from a door at the end of the corridor, looked down the hall at the camera, and ducked into the courtroom.

A few Trump aides and Trump's legal team preceded him by just a moment.

Trump booked and processed

Former President Trump has been processed as a criminal defendant, including having his fingerprints taken.

Court is 2:15 p.m., when the charges against him will be unsealed and he will be arraigned.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg just entered the courtroom.

Trump arrives at Manhattan courthouse

Former President Donald Trump has arrived at the Manhattan courthouse where he is expected to plead not guilty to criminal charges.

He entered the courthouse surrounded by Secret Service agents. Trump's motorcade traveled from Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan, tracked by numerous helicopters.

Trump posts while en route to court: 'Can't believe this is happening'

Former President Donald Trump posted on his social media platform Truth Social while on his way to the Manhattan courthouse, saying that it "seems so SURREAL."

"WOW, they are going to ARREST ME," he wrote. "Can't believe this is happening in America. MAGA!"

Trump leaves Trump Tower

Former President Donald Trump left Trump Tower shortly after 1 p.m. to head to the courthouse in Lower Manhattan for his arraignment.

Court officials will create a record of his name, age, birthdate, height and weight before taking his fingerprints via a computerized system. They may take his photo.

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston

Florida lawmaker pledges to keep supporting Trump

A former Florida state lawmaker said he and others drove from Orlando to New York in time for Tuesday's hearing to send a message to former President Donald Trump: We won't stop supporting you.

Anthony Sabatini, chair of Florida's Lake County Republican Party, joined other Trump supporters in a park near the Manhattan courthouse where Trump's arraignment was to be held.

"It's a bad day for America, one of the worst days in American history, he said.

The mood among Trump supporters, though, was positive, Sabatini said. He credited New York police officers with keeping people separated based on their motivation - in support of Trump or in support of his indictment.

Greene speaks amid shouts

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene rallied supporters of Donald Trump outside the Manhattan courthouse Tuesday morning ahead of the former president's arraignment.

A large crowd surrounded the Georgia Republican, once shunned by the GOP as a political pariah for her extremist rhetoric, as she made her way through a park where hundreds of onlookers and journalists gathered before the hearing.

Greene made a fast exit after getting a glimpse of the commotion where she was scheduled to speak. It was unclear whether she would return.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Monday said his message for Greene was that she should "be on your best behavior."

Dueling protests outside of court

Protesters on both sides have showed up in the park outside of court, including a couple dozen on each side.

Police are keeping both sides separated by barricades. One woman was removed because she was in the wrong area, but not arrested.

Marjorie Taylor Greene arrived and, despite using a megaphone, could barely be heard over the counter-protesters with their drums and whistles. She seems to have jumped into a white SUV and left

Meanwhile, NYPD has brought in even more barricades and appears to be putting another layer around the courthouse on Centre Street.

Protesters argue at the Collect Pond Park across the street from the Manhattan District Attorney's office in New York on Tuesday, April 4, 2023.
AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah

Santos shows support for Trump

Rep. George Santos arrived in the park and was swarmed by protesters heckling him and his support of the former president.

Asked why he was there, the embattled congressman said, "because i can be here."

Asked if any president is above the law, Santos said -- "No."

Asked whether he would be flying to Mar-a-Lago tonight, Santos laughed, "guys, I don't have a plane."

He then left the park, as quickly as he came. He was accompanied by a man in a red 'MAGA' hat.

Rally for Trump

People began gathering Tuesday morning for a rally for Donald Trump in a park outside the courthouse where the former president is scheduled to be arraigned.

The rally with Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was scheduled to start several hours ahead of Trump's court appearance.

Some anti-Trump protesters also appeared, unfurling a large banner saying "Trump Lies All the Time."

Trump supporters also are expected expected to gather at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida on Tuesday night as he returns

Prosecutor arrives

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg arrived at court Tuesday morning in New York ahead of former President Donald Trump's arraignment.

Bragg became Manhattan's first Black district attorney in 2022, following his election the previous November. He inherited a yearslong grand jury investigation into hush money paid on Trump's behalf during his 2016 presidential campaign.

After taking office, Bragg slowed his office's move toward an indictment of Trump and said he had concerns about the strength of the case. That sparked a public protest by two prosecutors who were leading the investigation and resigned.

But Bragg convened a new grand jury this year after convicting Trump's family company for tax fraud. He called that result a "strong demarcation line" for proceeding with other parts of the probe.

Trump attorney: 'No guilty plea'

Trump attorney Joe Tacopina said the former president's appearance in court for Tuesday's arraignment would be brief because the processing "does not take long."

"It won't be a long day in court," he said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"We know the basis of the indictment and the factual allegations in the indictment," Tacopina said, adding Trump would maintain his innocence.

"One thing I can assure you as I sit here today, there'll be no guilty plea in this case. That's one thing I can guarantee you," he said.

Tacopina appeared to predict the case would ultimately be dismissed.

"I don't think this case is going to see a juror," he said. "I think there's a legal challenge that will be made and should be made successfully."

Spectators line up

Spectators, many of them members of the news media, lined up overnight to get a seat inside the courtroom, or even just a glimpse of Trump, who wasn't expected until Tuesday afternoon.

The building was surrounded by barricades, and people were undergoing layers of security checks. The reporters waiting in line were camped out under tents with lawn chairs, blankets and pizza boxes.

The nation's 45th commander in chief was expected to be escorted from New York City's Trump Tower - also surrounded by barricades - into a lower Manhattan courthouse by the Secret Service.

Police braced for protests from supporters of Trump, a Republican who is running for the White House again in 2024. He called the decision by a grand jury to indict him "political persecution and election interference at the highest level."

Prosecutors investigated money paid to porn actor Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep the women from going public with claims that they had sex with him.

Will cameras be allowed in court?

The judge will allow five pool still photographers to snap for several minutes before the arraignment formally starts.

Who is Juan Merchan, the New York judge handling Trump's case?

His caseload has featured charges against former President Donald Trump's company and some of Trump's closest associates in business and politics.

Now Judge Juan Manuel Merchan is poised to take the historic hush-money prosecution of Trump himself.

Merchan, a former prosecutor with 16 years on the bench, is expected to preside Tuesday over the unprecedented arraignment of a former U.S. commander in chief. Trump will appear to answer charges arising from a grand jury investigation into payments made during his 2016 campaign to bury allegations that he had extramarital sexual encounters.

Trump, who is running for the White House again, says he's "completely innocent" and has called the case a "political persecution." He has also seized on Merchan's involvement.

Trump arrives in NYC ahead of arraignment

Donald Trump's plane touched down in New York City on Monday and he headed to Trump Tower ahead of what is expected to be a historic arraignment of a former president. Details here.

Trump opposes cameras in court

Former President Trump on Monday opposed the presence of cameras in the courtroom for his arraignment.

"We submit that the media request should be denied because it will create a circus-like atmosphere at the arraignment, raise unique security concerns, and is inconsistent with President Trump's presumption of innocence," Trump's attorney Susan Necheles said.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office declined to take a position on the matter.

Judge Juan Merchan has not yet ruled.

Trump departs Florida

Former President Donald Trump departed Florida for New York early Monday afternoon for his expected booking and arraignment Tuesday on charges stemming from hush money payments during his 2016 campaign - answering for a criminal case unlike any his country has seen.

Trump's private plane took off from Palm Beach International Airport at 1 p.m. en route to LaGuardia.

Trump, who is already in the midst of a third presidential campaign to try and reclaim the White House he lost to President Joe Biden in 2020, said he will go to Trump Tower Monday afternoon before turning himself in to authorities on Tuesday.

Trump Tower was open, but authorities were planning to close nearby streets as Trump came and went, and additional security was also in the works. They've taken steps to close and secure the courthouse floor where Trump will appear Tuesday.

Trump to deliver remarks Tuesday night after his arraignment

Former President Donald Trump will deliver remarks Tuesday night in Florida after his scheduled arraignment in New York on charges related to hush money payments, his campaign announced Sunday.

Trump will hold the event at his Mar-a-Lago club after returning from Manhattan, where he is expected to voluntarily turn himself in. He is expected to be joined in Florida by supporters as he tries to project an image of strength and defiance and turn the charges into a political asset to boost his 2024 presidential campaign.

Trump expected to travel to New York Monday

Former President Trump is expected to travel to New York on Monday, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

He is expected to appear in court on Tuesday at the earliest, the sources said, on what is expected to be around two dozen counts, including felonies.

Trump faces around 2 dozen counts: ABC News sources

Former President Trump has been charged with around two dozen counts, including felonies, sources familiar with the sealed indictment told ABC News.

The exact charges remain unknown since the indictment will not be unsealed until Trump appears in court on Tuesday.

The Manhattan district attorney's office declined to comment.

WATCH | Eyewitness coverage of Trump indictment

Manhattan DA's office slams House GOP's efforts to intervene in Trump investigation

The Manhattan district attorney's office is again slamming House Republicans for their efforts to intervene in its investigation into former President Donald Trump, accusing them of collaborating with Trump to "vilify and denigrate the integrity of elected state prosecutors and trial judges."

The DA's general counsel Leslie B. Dubeck penned a letter Friday to three House GOP committee chairmen, citing Trump's harsh rhetoric aimed at District Attorney Alvin Bragg and writing, "As Committee Chairmen, you could use the stature of your office to denounce these attacks and urge respect for the fairness of our justice system and for the work of the impartial grand jury."

Dubeck continues, "Instead, you and many of your colleagues have chosen to collaborate with Mr. Trump's efforts to vilify and denigrate the integrity of elected state prosecutors and trial judges and made unfounded allegations that the Office's investigation, conducted via an independent grand jury of average citizens serving New York State, is politically motivated."

Biden Administration stays mum on case

President Joe Biden set the tone for his administration's approach to former President Donald Trump's indictment Friday with a firm refusal to comment on the case.

Vice President Kamala Harris and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre separately refused. Both told reporters that the decision is tied to the ongoing nature of the case against Trump.

"Look, we're just not going to comment on any ongoing case, and I will just leave it there," Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One en route to Mississippi, where the president toured recent storm damage.

Ivanka Trump speaks out

Former President Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, reacted to the indictment on Instagram Friday, writing, "I love my father, and I love my country. Today, I am pained for both."

She added, "I appreciate the voices across the political spectrum expressing support and concern."

Judge signs order allowing DA to publicly acknowledge indictment

Judge Juan Merchan has signed this order allowing the Manhattan district attorney's office to publicly acknowledge the indictment.

What are the possible charges?

We don't know specifically what charges are included in the indictment against Former President Donald Trump, but experts are weighing in on what they could be, and what could happen next in court.

Who are the key players?

As Donald Trump fought his way to victory in the 2016 presidential campaign, key allies tried to smooth his bumpy path by paying off two women who had been thinking of going public with allegations of extramarital encounters with the Republican.

The payoffs, and the way that Trump's company accounted for one of them, are believed to be at the center of a grand jury investigation that led to a criminal indictment and could result in the first-ever criminal prosecution of a former U.S. president.

Here's a look at key figures in the case.

Bragg's Office Defends Inquiry

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office is defending the unprecedented criminal case against Trump in a letter to House Republicans, calling their repeated criticism of the investigation "unnecessary and unjustified."

The letter, the only substantial public comment on the case to come from Bragg's office since Thursday's indictment, is the latest back-and-forth between Trump's allies in Congress and the prosecutor leading the Manhattan case.

"Even worse, based on your reportedly close collaboration with Mr. Trump in attacking this Office and the grand jury process, it appears you are acting more like criminal defense counsel trying to gather evidence for a client than a legislative body seeking to achieve a legitimate legislative objective," general counsel Leslie Dubeck wrote to three Republican chairmen in a letter obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

Reps. Jim Jordan, James Comer and Bryan Steil have criticized the grand jury investigation as an "unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority."

The chairmen had requested testimony as well as documents and copies of any communications with the Justice Department.

Bragg did not answer reporters' questions on the indictment against Trump on Friday morning after he attended a high-profile sentencing hearing in an unrelated case.

Officials coordinating Trump's surrender

The NYPD, US Secret Service, US Marshals and New York State Court Officers will meet Friday to coordinate next week's surrender of former President Trump, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Representatives from the agencies will also conduct a walk through of the criminal courts building, known colloquially by its address, 100 Centre Street.

The 15th floor is already blocked off. That is where Judge Juan Merchan's courtroom is located. He is the judge presiding over the case. Merchan also presided over the criminal case involving Steve Bannon and he presided over the trial of the Trump Organization, which ended in a conviction.

Pence, DeSantis and more confirmed or potential 2024 rivals react

Some of Trump's confirmed or prospective rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination were among those who spoke out Thursday night in the wake of the news of the former president's indictment.

In an interview with CNN on Thursday night, former Vice President Mike Pence called it an "outrage," arguing that the case against Trump is "tenuous" and will "only further serve to divide our country."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whom sources have told ABC News is expected to launch a presidential campaign in the coming months, tweeted that the indictment was "un-American" and "a weaponization of the legal system," adding that Florida would "not assist in an extradition request."

Republicans on Long Island are reacting to news of Trump's indictment, all while DeSantis is set to hold a rally there Saturday night.

Schumer: 'Trump is subject to the same laws as every American'

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urged "Trump's critics and supporters to let the process proceed peacefully and according to the law" in a statement following the indictment of the former president.

"Mr. Trump is subject to the same laws as every American," Schumer said. "He will be able to avail himself of the legal system and a jury, not politics, to determine his fate according to the facts and the law."

House Speaker McCarthy vows to hold Manhattan DA accountable

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said in a tweet that the House GOP will use its power to hold Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg "and his unprecedented abuse of power to account."

"The American people will not tolerate this injustice," McCarthy said, adding that Bragg has "weaponized our sacred system of justice against President Donald Trump."

House Republicans have requested documents and testimony from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office in its investigation of Trump, but Bragg has said he won't comply.

RELATED: Republicans react to Trump indictment

NYPD officers to deploy across city on Friday

In the wake of the indictment, all officers with the New York Police Department have been ordered to show up in uniform Friday morning for deployments around New York City, police sources told ABC News.

There are no credible threats, according to the mayor's office.

Trump expected to surrender in New York early next week: Sources

The former president is expected to surrender in New York early next week, sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News.

While a day has not been firmed up, sources say that Tuesday is the day being discussed by Trump's legal team and the DA's office.

DA's office has contacted Trump's attorney 'to coordinate his surrender'

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office said in a statement that it has contacted former President Donald Trump's attorney "to coordinate his surrender" for arraignment on a state Supreme Court indictment, noting that it remains under seal.

"Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected," the office said.

NYPD officers to deploy across city on Friday

In the wake of the indictment, all officers with the New York Police Department have been ordered to show up in uniform Friday morning for deployments around New York City, police sources told ABC News.

There are no credible threats, according to the mayor's office.

Trump indictment marks unprecedented moment in presidential history

The indictment of Donald Trump marks an unprecedented development in the country's history -- the first time a former president has ever faced criminal charges.

Historians say that not since Richard Nixon had there been the real prospect of a commander-in-chief being formally accused of a crime, though Nixon avoided that fate after being pardoned by successor Gerald Ford.

Trump tells ABC News indictment is 'attack on our country'

Former President Donald Trump told ABC News over the phone that the indictment is "an attack on our country."

He called it a "political persecution," adding, "They are trying to impact an election."

Trump in a statement Thursday called himself a "completely innocent person" facing "an act of blatant Election Interference."

Trump said, "Our Movement, and our Party - united and strong - will first defeat (Manhattan District Attorney) Alvin Bragg, and then we will defeat Joe Biden, and we are going to throw every last one of these Crooked Democrats out of office so we can MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"

Trump's attorneys said in a statement Thursday, "He did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in Court."

Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., said on his podcast Thursday, "This is weaponized justice at its worst."

WATCH | ABC News full special report on Trump indictment

In bringing the charges, the Manhattan district attorney is embracing an unusual case that had been investigated by two previous sets of prosecutors, both of which declined to take the politically explosive step of seeking Trump's indictment.

In the weeks leading up to the indictment, Trump railed about the investigation on social media and urged supporters to protest on his behalf, prompting tighter security around the Manhattan criminal courthouse.

His indictment not only marks the first time a U.S. president will face criminal charges, but it also puts an end to Trump's perceived invincibility.

ABC News contributed to this report


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