Donald Trump Arraigned on Criminal Charges, Pleads Not Guilty

Call it the Perp Walk of the Century.

Donald Trump made history on Tuesday by becoming the first former U.S. president to be arraigned on criminal charges, relating to a $130,000 alleged hush-money payment allegedly made to adult film performer Stormy Daniels days before his 2016 election victory.

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Shortly after 10 a.m. PT, Trump, 76, emerged from his residence and business headquarters at Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan. He pumped his right fist in a gesture of defiance, then waved to the gathered crowd and press; a tuxedo-wearing Trump Tower doorman stood behind him, looking on in disbelief.

Trump then boarded a waiting vehicle and, accompanied by an armada of black Chevrolet SUVs and NYPD squad cars, embarked on the 4-mile trip downtown to the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building at 100 Centre St.

In the hours leading up to his appearance, hundreds of protesters, both for and against Trump, and spectators had gathered in a park across the street from the courthouse — certainly not the first media circus to erupt around the former reality TV star, but one with newly fraught implications as Trump faces over two dozen felony charges, including the falsification of business records.

Earlier in the day, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — a vocal Trump ally whose profile Sunday on 60 Minutes led to calls to boycott the venerable CBS news program — delivered a speech in that park, her words mostly drowned out by horns and chants led by anti-Trump protesters.

“Heading to Lower Manhattan, the Courthouse,” Trump wrote in a post on Truth Social, a Trump Media-owned social media platform founded in 2021. “Seems so SURREAL — WOW they are going to ARREST ME. Can’t believe this is happening in America. MAGA!”

Surrounded by a phalanx of Secret Service agents, Trump emerged from his vehicle at 1:23 p.m. and disappeared into the Manhattan district attorney’s office to face arrest and processing on the building’s seventh floor. According to media reports, he was then electronically fingerprinted but did not sit for a mug shot, nor was he placed in a holding cell before standing before a judge to face arraignment.

At 11:30 a.m. PT, a dour-faced Trump emerged from swinging doors to appear before Judge Juan Merchan, 61, a 15-year veteran of the bench overseeing the case. Trump had likely just seen the contents of the indictment against him for the first time.

Mercan also presided over a 2022 tax fraud case against the Trump Organization, which resulted in two Trump-owned business entities being found guilty of 17 counts of tax fraud and falsifying business records and ordered to pay the maximum penalty of $1.61 million. Former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg was sentenced by Merchan to five months for his crimes relating to the case.

Trump made no remarks to reporters, as some had anticipated he would, when he made his way inside the courtroom, where only still cameras were permitted. Electronic devices such as smartphones were also ordered off-limits. Inside, Trump faced the 34 charges in the newly unsealed indictment, as detailed by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, 49, who leads the investigation. Trump entered a plea of not guilty.

The indictment lists 34 counts of bookkeeping fraud related to Trump’s 2017 reimbursement to former fixer and attorney turned whistleblower Michael D. Cohen, which were listed as being for legal services — not, as Cohen now alleges, payouts to ensure Daniels’ silence. Bragg also suggested the alleged deception was committed for tax fraud purposes.

After flying back to his Mar-a-Lago Club residence in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump — greeted by chants of “USA! USA” from supporters — delivered a speech to a crowd that included his adult children Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Tiffany Trump, with their spouses. Also in attendance were Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Matt Rosendale of Montana and Greene of Georgia, who had also traveled from New York. Former first lady Melania Trump was not in attendance.

The speech — carried live by CNN and Fox News but not by MSNBC, nor any of the big three networks — did not quite last 30 minutes, short by Trump standards. Despite being warned in court by Mercan to be careful about what he said about Bragg in public, Trump had harsh rhetoric for the prosecutor.

He rattled out a long list of grievances and perceived slights. His angriest words were for Jack Smith, the special counsel investigating the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago — just one of several legal battles, including more severe ones relating to his various attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia and nationally, he currently faces.

Trump then turned to Judge Merchan, calling him a “Trump-hating judge with a Trump-hating wife and family,” before abruptly ending the speech and exiting the podium.

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