The judge already hates me, says ‘combative’ Donald Trump

Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels in a composite image
Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels in a composite image

Donald Trump said the judge presiding over his case “hates him” in an angry tirade directed at criminal charges being brought against him.

The former president will face some 30 charges relating to business fraud arising from a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 election.

On Friday, he attacked the judge he will appear before, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.

He is the same judge who presided over a prosecution last year of Mr Trump’s business on tax fraud charges, which led to a $1.61 million (£1.3 million) penalty. Mr Trump himself was not charged in that case.

Mr Trump wrote: “The Judge ‘assigned” to my Witch Hunt Case, a ‘Case’ that has NEVER BEEN CHARGED BEFORE, HATES ME.”

The former president went on to claim that the judge had “treated my companies VICIOUSLY” in the previous case.

Judge Juan Merchan
Judge Juan Merchan

Mr Trump will not be handcuffed for his brief court appearance, but he is expected to have his fingerprints and mugshot taken, and it is possible – though improbable – that he will be publicly paraded in a “perp walk”.

The former president had, in the days leading up to the indictment, reportedly joked with friends that he would be put in “golden handcuffs”.

Following the indictment Ms Daniels joked that “[I] don’t want to spill my champagne.”

Joe Tacopina, his lawyer, said: “I don’t know how all this is going to go down. There’s no textbook to see how you arraign a former president of the United States in criminal court.”

Joe Tacopina offers his thoughts to Fox News host Sean Hannity
Joe Tacopina offers his thoughts to Fox News host Sean Hannity

Mr Trump and his team were not notified in advance and were taken by surprise when news of the indictment broke on Thursday night.

Mr Tacopina said Mr Trump was initially “shocked” but then became “combative”, and there was “zero “ chance of him making a plea deal with prosecutors.

The lawyer said: “His knees don’t buckle. He’s now in the posture where he’s ready to fight this. I am sure they will try to make sure they get some joy out of it by parading him. [But] you have Secret Service involved. I don’t think they’re going to allow this to become a circus.”

After learning of the charges, Mr Trump went to dinner at his Mar-a-Lago resort with his wife Melania and her parents, before sending out social media messages until the early hours.

At the heart of the case is a $130,000 (£105,391) payment to Ms Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Ms Daniels claimed to have had a sexual encounter with the former president in 2006, which he has repeatedly denied.

Michael Cohen, Mr Trump’s former lawyer, paid the money and was then reimbursed by Mr Trump himself.

Cohen was later convicted of campaign finance law violations, and other offences, and jailed.

He is expected to be a star witness against his one-time employer but prosecutors also have documentary evidence.

Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney bringing the case against Mr Trump, was seen leaving his office amid tight security on Friday.

District Attorney Alvin Bragg leaving Manhattan Criminal Court - Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo
District Attorney Alvin Bragg leaving Manhattan Criminal Court - Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo

His office accused the former president’s Republican supporters in Congress of “collaborating with Mr Trump’s efforts to vilify and denigrate the integrity” of the investigation.

It came amid reports that senior officials at the Justice Department had doubts about the strength of the case.

They were said to be irritated because other legal cases against Mr Trump could have a higher chance of conviction.

Mr Trump is also being investigated over his role in the US Capitol riot on Jan 6 2021 and potential election interference in Georgia.

The former president claimed he was a victim of “political persecution” by a Democrat prosecutor.

With the potential for protests considered substantial, New York ordered every member of its police department to report in full uniform.

Joe Biden, the current US president, repeatedly declined to comment when asked if he thought the charges were politically motivated.

He said: “I have no comment on Trump.”

However, Nancy Pelosi, the former Democrat House Speaker, said: “No one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence.”

Republicans came to Mr Trump’s defence, including Ron DeSantis, his chief rival for the 2024 presidential nomination, who called the charges “un-American”.

Nikki Haley, a declared 2024 candidate, said: “This is more about revenge than it is about justice.”