Home » Trump has been charged with a hush-money scheme to boost his 2016 election chances.

Trump has been charged with a hush-money scheme to boost his 2016 election chances.

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NEW YORK, April 4 (Reuters) – Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in a historic juncture to 34 counts of forging business documents, as prosecutors accused him of orchestrating arranged payments to two women before the 2016 US election to prevent the publication of their documents. have sex with him.

Manhattan prosecutors allege that Trump – the first current or former US president to face criminal charges – forged business records to cover up election law violations during his successful campaign. his 2016 work.

Those two women are adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Wearing a dark blue suit and red tie, Trump sat contemplatively with his hands clasped at the defense table as he entered the defense in the presence of his attorneys.

“Not guilty,” Trump, 76, said when asked how he pleaded guilty. As the frontrunner in the race for the Republican nomination in 2024, Trump responded with answers like “yes” when asked by a judge if he understood the right. At times, the examiner put his hand to his ear as if asking for an answer.

Prosecutor Chris Conroy said:
“Defendant Donald J. Trump forged New York business records to cover up an illegal conspiracy to undermine the integrity of the 2016 presidential election and other violations of election law. .”

While forging business documents in New York is itself a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison, it can be elevated to a felony punishable by up to four years when committed for promoting or covering up another crime, such as violating electoral laws.


Prosecutors at the trial said Trump posted a series of messages on social media, including one threatening “death and destruction” if indicted. The judge asked the parties to “refrain from making statements that are likely to incite violence or civil unrest”.

Trump said nothing when he entered the courtroom or when he left about an hour later.

Then he returned home to Florida, where his office announced that he would be giving a speech at 8 a.m.:
3pm Tuesday (0015 GMT Wednesday).

Earlier today, Trump posted on social media:
“On the way to Lower Manhattan, the court. It sounds EXCELLENT – WOW, they’re going to arrest me. I can’t believe this is happening in America.”

Trump is facing a separate criminal investigation by a district prosecutor in Georgia over whether he illegally tried to overturn his 2020 election defeat in the state. Are not. He is also facing two investigations by the US Department of Justice’s special counsel into his efforts to nullify the 2020 election results and his handling of classified documents after leaving office.

Adam Kaufmann, a defense attorney who previously oversaw the prosecution in Manhattan, said Manhattan District Attorney Bragg’s team appeared to have presented a strong case.

What they’ve done is come up with an indictment of falsifying business records and, through factual statements, present it as part of a conspiracy, which in my opinion is very effective,” Kaufmann said.

Jeremy Saland, another former prosecutor, warned that prosecutors know they “have a very long way to go to solve these allegations” because they will have to prove to a jury that Trump intended violated election law even if he was not criminally charged for doing so.


Judge  Juan Merchan has set the next hearing for December 4. Legal experts have said that a trial may not even begin in a year and an impeachment or even a copy. The court will not prevent Trump from running for president legally. 

“We’re going to fight it out,” Todd Blanche, Trump’s attorney, told reporters after the impeachment, adding that Trump was frustrated, annoyed and angry at the charges.

“But I’ll tell you what – he’s motivated. And that’s not going to stop him. And it’s not going to slow him down. And that’s exactly what he expected,” Blanche said. said more. Bragg, a Democrat who has pursued the case and is accused by Trump and other Republicans of targeting him for political reasons, has defended the charges.

“Today we hold our grave responsibility to ensure that everyone is equal before the law. No amount of money and no amount of power will change this enduring American principle,” Bragg said in a statement. news conference.

The grand jury convened by Bragg indicted Trump heard evidence of a $130,000 payment made to Daniels in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign, Daniels said she was paid. to keep quiet about the sexual encounter she had with Trump at a Lake Tahoe hotel in 2006. Prosecutors say former National Enquirer editor David Pecker asked to research negative stories about Trump’s presidential campaign. American Media Inc, her parent company, paid McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story, but later kept it a secret. He also paid $30,000 to a former Trump Tower doorman for the rights to a false story about a child Trump allegedly fathered out of wedlock.

Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, said he coordinated payments with Trump for Daniels and McDougal. Trump denied having sex with either woman, but admitted to refunding Cohen what he paid Daniels. Prosecutors said Trump’s return check to an attorney for suppression payments incorrectly indicated the amount was for a “contract of attorney”. The indictment accuses Trump of falsifying his real estate company’s books for fraudulent purposes.

One element of the allegations is a so-called “catch and kill” method used by some media outlets to conceal damaging information about third parties – in this case, allegedly for their own benefit. Trump’s interests. Bragg’s office does not accuse Trump of violating election laws.

“Under New York State law, falsifying business records for the purpose of fraud and concealing another crime is a felony. That’s exactly this – 34 false claims made to cover up other crimes,” Bragg said.

On a cool early spring day in New York, Trump’s supporters and critics ahead of the impeachment were separated by a fence erected by police to maintain order, although there were some clashes. .

“Be polite, guys,” one policeman told them. 

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