Former President Donald Trump would have entered pleaded not guilty in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday to 34 counts of falsifying business records and conspiracy, in the first criminal prosecution of a former president in U.S. history.
Trump pleaded himself around 2:45 p.m. ET Tuesday before Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Juan Merchan, several electrical outlets reported.
The charges against Trump include conspiracy, NBC reportedraising the case against him to an unexpected level of seriousness.
The felony charges of falsifying business documents carry a maximum sentence of four years in state prison, although a law enforcement expert told Yahoo News – which was first to report the scope of charges – that first-time offenders are rarely sentenced to prison.
Trump attended Manhattan Criminal Court just after 1 p.m. Tuesday and called his impending arrest a “surreal” moment in a Truth Social article just before entering the courthouse.
Trump, who did not speak to reporters before appearing before the judge, looked grim and angry as he sat between his lawyers Susan Necheles and Joe Tacopina in the courtroom.
In addition to Tacopina and Necheles, Trump was joined by attorney Todd Blanche, legal counsel Boris Ephsteyn, counsel Jason Miller and aide Walt Nauta at the courthouse, The New York Times reported.
Trump was formally arrested, fingerprinted and held in an office outside the courtroom before entering his plea, although he did not have his photo ID taken. The New York Times reported (Experts speculated before his arrest that a photo ID might not be necessary, given that Trump’s appearance is widely known).
Trump spent the night at his Trump Tower apartment after flying from Mar-A-Lago to New York on Monday. Pro and anti-Trump protesters gathered alongside a crowd of reporters outside the courthouse on Tuesday morning. GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and George Santos (NY) also made brief appearances at the protests (which appeared to be largely peaceful), but were quickly drowned out by counter-protesters.
While the indictment is under seal and the charges have yet to be made public, Trump would face 34 counts of falsifying first-degree business records and conspiracy. The charges are widely expected to relate to a deal her former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made with Stormy Daniels in exchange for her keeping quiet about their alleged affair in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. expected prosecutors to consider falsifying business records charges, after federal prosecutors determined in a separate 2018 case against Cohen that the Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen for payments to Daniels and falsely specified that the services were for lawful purposes. Trump has denied the alleged affair, and his lawyers claim Daniels extorted the $130,000 payment from him.
Merchan ruled on Monday that cameras would not be allowed in the courtroom, denying a request from a coalition of media organizations to circumvent state laws banning cameras, citing the level of unprecedented public interest in the case. Trump’s legal team was against having cameras in court, arguing they would make a “show”, his attorney Joe Tacopina said.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office will hold a press conference at 3:30 p.m. to discuss the charges. Trump will deliver a speech at Mar-A-Lago at 8:15 p.m.
Trump walks into Manhattan courthouse, calls arrest ‘surreal moment’ (Forbes)
Why Trump might not get a photo ID — and when we might see him if he does (Forbes)
Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying documents, report says (Forbes)