Trump Pleads Not Guilty to 34-Count IndictmentFormer President Donald Trump and his defense team in a Manhattan court for his arraignment on April 4, 2023.
By Ed Malik, A | ed@ddnewsonline.com |
quoting The Epoch Times sources posted April 5, 2023

Donald Trump, former president and frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, pleaded not guilty in New York, United States of America, on April 4 to an unprecedented indictment brought by the Manhattan district attorney.
News of the historic indictment on March 30 set off several days of media mania which culminated on April 4 in coverage of Trump’s motorcade ride through his beloved hometown en route to voluntarily surrender himself at the offices of New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg and hear the charges against him at the New York Supreme Court.
In a return to the saga that began shortly after he won the 2016 election, the district attorney charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection to a payment for a non-disclosure agreement signed by adult entertainment actress Stormy Daniels and Trump’s then-attorney, Michael Cohen.

For a president who faced an unprecedented second impeachment, a years-long aggressive inquiry into alleged collusion with Russia, and the raid of his private residence, the Manhattan indictment is the latest, most dramatic episode in what he and his supporters see as the weaponization of government against a political opponent.
The charges by Bragg, a Democrat elected in a deep blue county, are a particular fit for the pattern because the district attorney has only recently directed his office to not prosecute certain armed robberies, burglaries, prostitution, and drug offenses.
The charges against Trump all cite the same statute: New York State Statute 175.10, falsifying business records in the first degree. Each of the 34 counts deals with the paper trail related to the payments that a Trump entity made to Cohen, including business ledger entries, invoices, and checks.
In a news conference after the arraignment hearing, Bragg alleged that Trump falsified business records with intent to cover up state- and federal-level crimes related to campaign contributions. Those alleged crimes, according to Bragg, included payments to Daniels and Karen McDougal, a model who received a payment from the publisher of the National Enquirer for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with Trump.
Trump has previously said that the payments weren’t made with campaign funds. The indictment doesn’t offer any evidence of Trump paying McDougal.
“Under New York state law, it is a felony to falsify business records with an intent to defraud and an intent to conceal another crime. That is exactly what this case is about, 34 false statements made to cover up other crimes,” Bragg said at the news conference.
“These are felony crimes in New York State, no matter who you are. We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct.”
Trump’s attorneys, speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, said the case is unprecedented not only because it concerns a former president, but for other reasons as well.
“A state prosecutor is prosecuting a federal election law violation that doesn’t exist according to federal election law officials,” said Joe Tacopina, one of three Trump attorneys who attended the hearing.
The judge, Juan Merchan, didn’t set a trial date. The prosecutors asked for the trial to take place in January 2024 and Trump’s attorneys requested April 2024. Bragg’s office will have 65 days to file discovery materials. The defense will have until Aug. 8 to file all pretrial motions.
Trump’s attorneys have already indicated that they’ll file a motion to dismiss the case.

OUTSIDE THE COURTHOUSE

In a small park outside the courthouse in downtown Manhattan, hours prior to Trump’s arrival, police set up barricades to separate Trump’s supporters from those celebrating his indictment. With heavy news media presence in and around the park, arguments between Trump’s supporters and counter-protesters quickly drew dozens of cameras.
The scene grew cacophonous and tense with the arrival of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who spoke briefly in Trump’s defense before handing the bullhorn to a group of conservative pundits, including Jack Posobiec. A team of New York Police Department officers briefly struggled to keep the crowd of media and attendees at bay as Greene made her way atop a bench.
“I came to peacefully protest against the persecution of an innocent man,” she said. “And not just any man. This is the former president of the United States of America, and the government has been weaponized against him.”
A handful of hecklers blew whistles and shouted obscenities as Greene spoke.
“Every American should take a stand. This is what happens in communist countries. Not the United States of America,” she said. “Donald Trump is innocent. This is election interference.”
Trump first spoke of the potentiality of an indictment on March 18, writing on Truth Social that he expected to be arrested the following week.
“Protest, take our nation back!” he said at the time.
The prosecutors secured an indictment against Trump on March 30, according to the former president’s attorneys.

TRUMP TOWER

The scene outside of Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan was more subdued than the cacophony next to the courthouse. Television cameras live-streamed footage of the tower entrances throughout the morning. Trump waved and pumped his fist upon exiting the tower, which was the site of his 2016 presidential campaign announcement and the early days of the presidential transition.
It was in his office in Trump Tower in 2017 that then-FBI Director James Comey briefed Trump about a dossier of unverified allegations that the bureau was already investigating. The dossier turned out to have been funded by the Clinton campaign and composed by a Russian national working for a former British spy. The years-long Russia investigation that followed failed to verify any of the dossier’s allegations about Trump.
In a TRUTH SOCIAL message sent while he was still en route to the courthouse, Trump wrote: “Heading to Lower Manhattan, the Courthouse. Seems so SURREAL—WOW, they are going to ARREST ME. Can’t believe this is happening in America. MAGA!”
The Secret Service motorcade arrived at the courthouse at roughly 12:20 p.m. After exiting a black SUV, Trump waved toward a battery of cameras set up across the street from the roadblock and walked briskly up the street into a side door of the building at 100 Centre Street.
In a White House briefing that began about the time Trump arrived downtown, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment on the indictment.
“Trump’s indictment is not our focus,” Jean-Pierre said. “Our focus right now is American people and how to lower prices.”

2024 RACE

All of Trump’s major Republican 2024 potential primary opponents, including those who haven’t yet announced a run, condemned the indictment and defended the former president. The cohesion, at a time when the frontrunner would usually be perceived in a vulnerable spot, suggests that Republicans are genuinely concerned about government weaponization. The candidates also may be playing a delicate game of running on the Trump agenda while running against the man who galvanized unyielding passion for the platform among the base of Republican voters.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called the move by Bragg un-American. Former Vice President Mike Pence, speaking on CNN the same evening, called it “a bad decision by a political prosecutor.”
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who, unlike Pence and DeSantis, has made her presidential bid official, said, “This is more about revenge than it is about justice.”
There’s no consensus on what effect the indictment will have on the 2024 election. The Trump campaign raised $7 million in the three days following news of the indictment, according to Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller. For Trump’s supporters, the parallel between the treatment of Jan. 6, 2021, protesters and the April 4 arrest could validate the former president’s warnings about a government that has turned against a swath of the people whom it’s supposed to serve.
“They’re not coming after me, they’re coming after you—I’m just standing in their way,” Trump’s Truth Social profile bio states.
In the case of Stormy Daniels, the hand of justice appears to have struck at those who went after Trump. Daniels’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, enjoyed months of media fame and glory before facing indictments in three criminal cases. He was found guilty of attempted extortion, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and obstruction. He’s in prison with a release date set for March 2, 2036.
Meanwhile, on April 4, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals awarded the former president nearly $122,000 in attorney fees from Daniels over a failed defamation suit she brought against Trump in 2018. Trump’s son, Eric, tweeted that the amount is in addition to the roughly half a million dollars that she already owes his father.
The key witness against Trump will be Michael Cohen, his former attorney. Cohen went to prison in May 2019 after pleading guilty to campaign finance charges linked to the Stormy Daniels non-disclosure agreement. A former Federal Elections Commission chairman told The Epoch Times in August 2018 that the charges Cohen pleaded guilty to weren’t crimes.

Note: The story was originally reported by The Epoch Times.

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