Trump Indictment: ex-president pleads not guilty to felonies, says ‘USA is a mess’

Former US President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts in a New York City court related to a hush money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Former President Donald Trump sits at the defense table with his defense team in a Manhattan court
Former President Donald Trump sits at the defense table with his defense team in a Manhattan courtSeth Wenig/The Associated Press

(This blog is now closed.)


  • Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts in a New York City court.

  • The indictment against the former president centres on allegations he falsified business records to conceal hush-money payments, including one to adult film star Stormy Daniels, ahead of the 2016 vote.

  • New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg said Trump’s conduct constitutes a crime in New York “no matter who you are”.

  • Trump rallied support from his residence at Mar-a-Lago, refuting the allegations against him.

Former President of United States, Donald trump appeared in a Manhattan court today and surrendered to face criminal charges stemming from 2016 hush money payments to adult movie star Stormy Daniels. 

Reports have dubbed this as an extraordinary moment in US history, as Trump also becomes the first US president who faces criminal charges. The Republican party leader who had earlier announced his bid to run for 2024 US Presidential elections faces multiple election-related investigations. 

Trump ends speech saying ‘USA is a mess’

Trump finished his speech on a dark note, stating that “the USA is a mess, our economy is crashing, inflation is out of control, Russia has joined with China. Can you believe that? Saudi Arabia has joined with Iran.”

“It would never have happened if I were your president,” he added.

Trump calls on Alvin Bragg to resign

Trump said that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was a “criminal” who should resign or be prosecuted.

“The DA’s office even had a webpage [to] ‘meet the team of executives who have done this to President Trump’,” Trump alleged.

He said that the judge in the hush-money case, Juan Merchan, was also biased against him. “I have a Trump-hating judge, with a Trump-hating wife and family,” Trump said.

Trump repeats false 2020 election claims and defends himself from other investigations

The former president says he has been attacked with an “onslaught” of investigations, lashing out at numerous investigations against him and decrying his two previous impeachments.

“The only crime that I’ve committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it,” he said.

“From the beginning, the Democrats spied on my campaign. Remember, they attacked me with an onslaught of fraudulent investigations – Russia, Russia, Russia, Ukraine. Ukraine. Ukraine impeachment hoax, number one. Impeachment hoax, number two.”

He also repeated false claims that widespread fraud had robbed him of reelection in 2020 when he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

Trump returns to Florida residence, Crowds gather in Mar-a-Lago before Trump speech

Trump supporters have filled the ballroom of the Mar-a-Lago resort, awaiting the former president’s first public remarks of the day, in a speech expected to begin shortly.

‘There was nothing done illegally,’ Trump says

In his first public remarks after he was presented with criminal charges, Trump reiterated that he did nothing illegal.

“The hearing was shocking to many in that they had no ‘surprises,’ and therefore, no case,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social website.

“Virtually every legal pundit has said that there is no case here. There was nothing done illegally!”

Cheques reimbursing Stormy Daniels payment signed by Trump: Prosecutors

Most of the cheques to reimburse Trump’s personal lawyer for the hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 elections were signed by Trump himself, prosecutors have said.

The reimbursements were mischaracterised as legal expenses to conceal their “true nature”, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said in a statement.

“In total, 11 checks were issued for a phony purpose. Nine of those checks were signed by TRUMP,” the office said.

“Each check was processed by the Trump Organization and illegally disguised as a payment for legal services rendered pursuant to a non-existent retainer agreement.”

Trump heads directly to airport, set to travel to Florida

Trump travelled directly from the Manhattan criminal court to LaGuardia airport in a police-escorted motorcade, where he boarded a private plane.

The former president was set to travel to Florida, where he is expected deliver remarks from his Mar-a-Lago resort at 8:15pm (00:15 GMT on Wednesday).

What are the charges against Trump?

In a statement following the arraignment, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office explained the 34 felony charges against Trump for “falsifying business records”.

The office said that was done to “conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election”.

“During the election, Trump and others employed a ‘catch and kill’ scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects,” the statement said.

“Trump then went to great lengths to hide this conduct, causing dozens of false entries in business records to conceal criminal activity, including attempts to violate state and federal election laws,” the statement said.

Unsealed indictment accuses Trump of three hush money payments

The unsealed indictment accuses Trump of directing 3 different instances of hush money payments to cover up alleged affairs.

Trump was indicted for “falsifying New York business records in order to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election”, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office.

The statement said from “from August 2015 to December 2017, TRUMP orchestrated his ‘catch and kill’ scheme through a series of payments that he then concealed through months of false business entries”.

Judge warns Trump to refrain from social media posts that could foment unrest

Judge Juan Merchan warned Trump to refrain from social media posts that could incite violence against officials, according to reporters in the court room.

The warning comes after Trump has repeatedly lashed out at New York District Attorney Bragg via various campaign channels and through his social media account, accusing the official of pursuing a politically motivated case.

Still, Merchan did not impose any pre-trial restrictions, such as a gag order, on Trump.

Democratic lawmaker hails prosecutor’s ‘courage’

Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro has described Trump’s arraignment as an “important” moment that shows that everyone is under the law.

“While the arraignment of a former president is unprecedented, the Manhattan district attorney has shown great courage in holding Donald Trump accountable,” Castro said in a statement.

“To allow a president to break the law with impunity would set a dangerous precedent for American democracy, encouraging future presidents to do the same.”

Prosecutor says Trump tried to undermine integrity of 2016 polls

‘Dark day for our country,’ says Republican Senator Ted Cruz

Republican Senator Ted Cruz has decried the charges against Trump, saying that the former president’s arrest makes a ‘mockery of the rule of law’.

In a social media post, Cruz tried to link Alvin Bragg, the prosecutor overseeing the case, to liberal donor George Soros – an accusation that features frequently in Republicans’ criticism of the charges. Soros denies donating to Bragg or ever communicating with him.

“Not only is the indictment frivolous, this political persecution marks a dark day for our country,” Cruz wrote.

Crowds gather to catch a glimpse of Trump’s courthouse exit

Police appear on high alert as the crowds outside the courthouse continue to swell with Trump supporters and anti-Trump activists clashing with one another.

Onlookers have gathered on Worth Street to see if they can catch a glimpse of Trump, who is shortly expected to depart the Manhattan Criminal Court following his arraignment.

Amid the electrified atmosphere, woman in a red dress plays “God Bless America” on a saxophone at nearby Foley Square.

Trump supporters and protesters gather near the Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday
Trump supporters and protesters gather near the Manhattan Criminal Court on TuesdayDorian Geiger/Al Jazeera

Trump leaves court after arraignment

The president has left the Manhattan criminal court where he surrendered and pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts related to falsifying business records. US media has also reported the charges include a “conspiracy” count.

Trump left in a motorcade.

Trump charges include ‘conspiracy’: US media

Details of the charges have been emerging after Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts.

After the indictment was unsealed on Tuesday, NBC News reported that among the falsifying business records charges, Trump has also been charged with conspiracy related to hush money payments made in 2016.

The reported conspiracy charge could mean the case extends beyond just the payment to Stormy Daniels.

Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records during his arraignment at Manhattan criminal court.

Stay connected to Jaano Junction on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Koo. Listen to our Podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Jaano Junction