Ex-US President Trump in court: A historic day in New York

Status: 04/05/2023 01:24 am

Now it’s official: For the first time, a former US President has been indicted. Donald Trump appeared in court in Manhattan, where the 34 counts against him were read. As expected, he pleaded “not guilty”.

By Peter Mücke, ARD Studio New York

It was a historic day in New York. Reporters, cameramen and photographers had been positioned in front of the courthouse in Lower Manhattan since the early hours of the morning. During the morning, supporters and opponents of the ex-president also gather in a nearby park.

Trump supporters had been calling for protests for days. However, the feared clashes did not occur – also thanks to the massive police presence. Then, at 1:24 p.m. local time, the moment everyone had been waiting for: Accompanied by a column of Secret Service vehicles, Trump drove up in a black SUV. He briefly waves to onlookers and then walks the last few steps into the building.

Antje Passenheim, ARD New York, on the charges against Trump

tagesschau24 9:45 p.m., April 4th, 2023

Trump is said to have falsified business documents in 34 cases

From this moment on, the ex-president is officially considered “in custody”. He is now being treated by the police, fingerprints are being taken. He then goes into a courtroom, where the indictment is read out to him and his lawyers, which takes much longer than expected, almost an hour. The accusation: Trump is said to have falsified business documents in 34 cases, said senior prosecutor Bragg afterwards in a press conference.

It is a crime under New York state law to falsify business records with the intent to conceal another crime. That’s what this case is all about. False statements were made 34 times to cover up a crime. These are crimes in New York, no matter who you are.

Even if it is a former US President. Such a man had never been charged in a criminal trial. At its core, it is about Trump’s hush money payments to a porn star shortly before the 2016 presidential election – carried out through his former lawyer Cohen and later declared as a lawyer’s fee.

Evidence will show Trump did this to cover up crimes related to the 2016 election. Trump, Cohen and others agreed to a ‘chatch-and-kill’ program in 2015 – with the aim of identifying, buying and suppressing negative news about Trump and thus improving his chances of winning the election.

That was a violation of New York state campaign laws, Bragg said. With the hush money, Trump undermined the integrity of the presidential elections.

As expected, Trump pleads “not guilty”

Judge Juan Merchan said the trial against Trump could begin early next year. He also warned Trump against further inflammatory Internet posts. As expected, the ex-president declared himself “not guilty” on all charges and left New York – contrary to what had been announced, without speaking to the press again.

But his lawyers spoke up: “The district attorney has turned what was actually a political matter into a political indictment,” says Todd Blanche. “I didn’t expect that to happen in this country against someone who was President of the United States. It’s really disappointing and sad. And we’re going to fight it.”

He and his colleagues are now likely to try to delay the process in the hearings that are now to follow. After the historic court hearing, where he can be seen with a grim facial expression in the few published photos, Trump himself was driven straight to the airport to fly back to Mar-a-Lago by private jet.

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