Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony counts after arrest: Full coverage
The former president is the first in the U.S. ever to be criminally charged.
NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 34 felony charges stemming from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's investigation into the hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump is the first U.S. president ever to be criminally charged.
"These are felony crimes in New York state, no matter who you are," Bragg told reporters at a press conference after the former president's arraignment. "We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct.”
Trump, who spent Monday night at Trump Tower, was arraigned at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon before flying back to Florida for an evening event at Mar-a-Lago.
"I never thought anything like this could happen in America," Trump said in a speech during which he railed about Bragg and the other investigations he is currently facing.
Charges against Trump are ‘a very serious matter,’ lawyer says
For Trump, Stormy Daniels case is just the tip of the iceberg
For a complete recap of the historic events from our reporters on the ground in New York City and elsewhere, see the blog below.
• Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty in Manhattan Criminal Court Tuesday to 34 felony charges of falsifying business records stemming from an investigation into the hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
• His next court appearance was set for Dec. 4.
• Trump is the first U.S. president ever to be charged with a crime.
• "These are felony crimes in New York state, no matter who you are," Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg told reporters at a press conference. "We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct.”
• After his arrest and arraignment, Trump was released and flew back to Florida for an event at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday evening.
• "I never thought anything like this could happen in America," Trump said in a speech to his supporters.
Trump bashes Bragg, judge and judge's family — despite judge's warning
Trump arrives to speak at an event at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday night following his court appearance in New York. (Photo by Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump used his remarks at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday evening to verbally attack Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Judge Juan Merchan and Merchan's family — despite a direct warning from Merchan during Trump's court appearance on Tuesday.
Merchan did not issue a gag order, but according to a court transcript shared by CNN, he told attorneys on both sides to "refrain" from rhetoric that could lead to violence.
"Defense counsel, speak to your client and anybody else you need to, and remind them to please refrain, please refrain from making statements that are likely to incite violence or civil unrest," Merchan said. "Please refrain from making comments or engaging in conduct that has the potential to incite violence, create civil unrest, or jeopardize the safety or well-being of any individuals."
Trump lights into other prosecutors hours after becoming first former president indicted on criminal charges
Yahoo News’ Tom LoBianco reports:
Former President Donald Trump took the stage in his Mar-a-Lago ballroom Tuesday night, just hours after being indicted in New York on 34 felony charges, and lit into both the New York prosecutor who brought the historic case and the other authorities investigating his past conduct.
“They can’t beat us at the ballot box, so they try to beat us through the law,” Trump said. “That’s the America we live in right now. Our country is a mess.”
Trump also repeated his false claims that he won the 2020 election. His efforts to overturn that election have become the centerpiece of ongoing investigations by both Georgia and federal prosecutors.
Despite being the first former president to face a criminal trial, Trump did not spend the bulk of his speech on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Instead, he bounced through a list of complaints and allegations now routine in his campaign stump speech.
More on those below.
Trump uses post-arraignment event to resurface 2020 election falsehoods
Former President Donald Trump arrives to speak at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Yahoo News' David Knowles reports:
Upon his return from New York City, where he was arraigned on 34 charges stemming from his hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, former President Donald Trump delivered a bitter, rambling, campaign-style speech that was filled multiple by-now-familiar falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election.
In remarks delivered at Mar-a-Lago, Trump complained about “unconstitutional changes to the election laws” that he implied cost him victory over Joe Biden. Without evidence, he suggested that “government cameras” had captured ballot boxes being stuffed with “millions of votes” fraudulently cast for Biden.
In truth, there are no such tapes showing ballot stuffing, and Trump’s lawyers lost more than two dozen legal challenges in the wake of the 2020 election.
Trump also falsely asserted that “nobody” believed he had done anything wrong when he pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to come up with enough votes to declare him the winner in that state over Biden. Raffensperger, for one, was troubled by the call.
Will Trump's indictment help or hurt other investigations?
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is investigating Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia, at a hearing in Atlanta on Jan. 24. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Duncan Levin, a criminal defense attorney and former New York state prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, told Yahoo News' Kate Murphy that he thinks former President Donald Trump's indictment in the hush money case is “irrelevant” to other ongoing investigations into the former president.
Levin said Tuesday that while the facts are strong for the District Attorney Alvin Bragg's indictment against Trump, the public is still left not knowing the basis for why the charges are felonies rather than misdemeanors.
“The case is extremely strong as to the underlying falsification of business records,” Levin said. “There's no doubt about that. But I don't think we're left any better off now than we were earlier as to what the DA's rationale is for charging these crimes as felonies, as it requires not only the falsification of business records as a misdemeanor, but also if it's done with the intent to conceal or commit another crime — that bumps up to a felony.
“The indictment has no information whatsoever about what those other crimes are," he added. "And we really are left piecing different things together to try to understand what these other crimes are.”
"I somehow doubt it, but time will tell."
— Duncan Levin, a criminal defense attorney and former New York state prosecutor, when asked whether Trump will he serve jail time if convicted
Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago
Former President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Addressing a crowd that chanted "U-S-A" upon his arrival, former President Donald Trump spoke publicly on Tuesday night at Mar-a-Lago about his arraignment on criminal charges.
"I never thought anything like this could happen in America," Trump said, reading from a teleprompter. "The only crime I have committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it."
He then ticked off a list of falsehoods about investigations into his conduct past and present, as well as lies about the 2020 election.
"Our country is going to hell," he said.
For DA Alvin Bragg, now comes the hard part: Securing a Trump conviction
Bragg speaks during a press conference following Trump's arraignment in New York City on Tuesday. (Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Though the former president has been officially charged, Yahoo News' Michael Isikoff writes that prosecutors likely face an uphill battle:
The indictment itself is filled with potential problems for prosecutors. Federal election law on the question of whether so-called hush money payments constitute a crime is far from settled. Former senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards was prosecuted by Justice Department officials for soliciting wealthy donors to pay his paramour while he was running for president in 2008. The jury acquitted Edwards on one count and was conflicted on the others, resulting in a hung jury and a later DOJ decision to drop the whole matter.
In short, experts say, prosecutors who bring cases alleging the illegality of payments to keep somebody from talking during a campaign are taking a risk.
Spotted at Mar-a-Lago
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., arrives at Mar-a-Lago head of Trump's speech Tuesday. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
In the crowd for Trump's Mar-a-Lago speech are some familiar names in MAGA world: Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle; Eric Trump; Tiffany Trump; Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.; Mike Lindell (aka the MyPillow guy); Kari Lake.
Donald Trump Jr. waves to the crowd as he arrives for the Mar-a-Lago event. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Kari Lake waits for Trump's arrival at Mar-a-Lago. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
MyPillow founder Mike Lindell arrives at the event. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
More color from inside court
Former President Donald Trump sits at the defense table in court Tuesday. (Seth Wenig/Getty Images)
Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff reports:
From the moment he walked into the New York courthouse Tuesday afternoon, former President Donald Trump was scowling and somber. He barely said a word to court personnel. His aides had suggested he would use the opportunity to talk to the media and defend himself, most likely after he was brought by elevator to the floor where New York state Judge Juan Merchan was waiting to conduct his arraignment.
Court officials said they expected Trump — who was not in handcuffs — to immediately turn right when he got out of the elevator and head toward the assembled media. Instead, he turned right and walked straight into the courtroom, barely even looking at the assembled reporters and photographers.
Inside the courtroom, Trump was the same way — subdued, quiet, barely uttering a word. He did seem pleased by the presentation of his newly hired lawyer, Todd Blanche. But overall, said one New York official who watched him closely during the proceeding, Trump seemed diminished as the reality of his legal predicament sank in.
“He didn’t seem as big a figure,” said the court official. “He seemed taken down a notch.”
Trump: 'There was nothing done illegally'
Former President Donald Trump's motorcade leaves the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on Tuesday. (Bing Guan/Reuters)
As he left New York after pleading not guilty to 34 felony counts stemming from a hush money payment to a porn star, former President Donald Trump again professed his innocence on his social media platform, Truth Social.
"The hearing was shocking to many in that they had no 'surprises,' and therefore, no case. Virtually every legal pundit has said that there is no case here. There was nothing done illegally!" Trump wrote.
Trump also made sure to promote his scheduled appearance at 8:15 p.m. ET at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach, Fla., resort. Yahoo News will cover what he has to say on this live blog.