Stormy Daniels case
A historic day in New York: With a large police presence and demonstrations, former US President Donald Trump arrived in court to read out the indictment against him. The Republican, accompanied by security guards, ran into the Manhattan courthouse and was temporarily taken into custody. Upon his arrival, he gave onlookers a quick wave. It is the first time in US history that an ex-president has to answer in a criminal case. The arrival at the court was accompanied by heavy security measures and demonstrations by his supporters and opponents alike.
Because of feared riots, New York had increased security significantly. Hundreds of journalists stationed themselves around the court, and Trump’s arrival in New York the day before was a major media spectacle.
An indictment like never before
The district attorney’s office in Manhattan announced the indictment against Trump on Thursday. A suspect must appear in person for the reading of the indictment. Around 30 charges are to be brought against Trump – none have been officially announced so far. The case is complicated. Shortly before his election as president in 2016, Trump paid hush money to porn actress Stormy Daniels. She had claimed she had sex with him. Trump denies an affair, but not that money flowed.
The payment itself is not illegal. According to the media, however, Trump is accused of having incorrectly billed them and falsifying business documents. He may have violated campaign finance laws. According to US media, Trump has been charged with 34 crimes, each of which carries a prison sentence.
The once most powerful man in the world was to be taken into short-term custody so that his fingerprints and police photos could be taken. Whether these photos would actually be taken remained open at first. This should all happen behind closed doors. Trump is likely to plead “not guilty” at the indictment hearing. The responsible judge rejected a video transmission from the court.
It was expected that after the indictment, Trump would first leave the court and then probably leave New York again. It was unclear whether he might be able to use the opportunity to speak out in front of the large crowd of reporters on the sidelines of the court hearing. Trump wanted to speak on the big stage on Tuesday evening local time (in the German night on Wednesday) in his Mar-a-Lago estate in the state of Florida. His message there is likely to be that of the past few weeks: Trump rejects all allegations of a politically motivated “witch hunt” intended to prevent his victory in the 2024 presidential election. He had already announced several months ago that he would run again for the election.
Protest for and against Trump
Trump’s reasoning resonates with his die-hard supporters. His supporters outside the courthouse also saw the charges as purely politically motivated. Trump was “completely innocent,” said one of the demonstrators. The Republican exposes “all the corruption” in the country. Another woman said “Communist tactics” were being used against Trump. “America will never put up with this,” she hooted. The radical Republican MP Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of the best-known and most eloquent conspiracy theorists in the US Parliament and ardent Trump supporter, also spoke at the demonstration. At the same time, dozens of Trump opponents gathered in front of the court and shouted: “Lock him up.” Both sides were separated by police cordons.
A media spectacle when Trump arrived
The indictment reading had already cast its shadow in the media on Monday. Trump actually lives in his luxury home Mar-a-Lago in Florida. For the court date in New York, he had to fly around two and a half hours north on Monday. The US media already staged his arrival as a spectacle – TV stations broadcast every stage of the 76-year-old’s journey live. In a convoy of black vehicles, Trump first drove to the airport in Palm Beach, where he boarded his Boeing 757, on which the name Trump was emblazoned in large letters. The flight to New York City was at times the most watched flight in the world on the Flight Radar flight portal.
The arrival in New York was similar. Helicopters accompanied the convoy on its journey from LaGuardia Airport to Trump Tower in Manhattan on the famous Fifth Avenue. In front of the skyscraper, the safety precautions were significantly increased again. Some Trump fans fought verbal battles with opponents. Before Trump entered the skyscraper, he briefly waved to onlookers on the street – then the otherwise less media-shy ex-president hurried on without comment. Rather, he vented his anger at the charges through his Twitter replacement, Truth Social.
Increased security in New York
Due to the historical event, there was a state of emergency on some streets in downtown New York. On the evening before the indictment was read, people were queuing in front of the court to get into the hall. There were barriers around the building, media representatives from all over the world set up their cameras.
The storming of the Capitol in Washington by angry Trump supporters on January 6, 2021 caused some New Yorkers to fear that there could also be chaos and rioting in the liberal east coast metropolis. Democratic Mayor Eric Adams cautioned protesters not to turn violent. New York is not a “playground for inappropriate anger”. US President Joe Biden, on the other hand, was demonstratively relaxed. “I have faith in the New York Police Department,” he said when asked if he was concerned.
Trump called for protests a good two weeks ago. This brought back memories of the Capitol attack, in which his supporters stormed the US Congress to prevent Trump from being replaced by Biden. Biden won the 2020 election, but Trump still refuses to admit defeat. The prosecution in New York is annoying for him and could possibly end up in prison one day. At least legally, an indictment or conviction does not disqualify him from a presidential candidacy.
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