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Former US President Trump Faces 34 Felony Charges

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Former US President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty after being charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, including three cases of silence.

Donald Trump’s attorney has vowed to fight 34 criminal charges the former president faces over hush payments, calling the charges “sad.”

“The indictment itself is exemplary,” said attorney Todd Blanche outside the Manhattan court complex following Trump’s indictment, adding that the indictment was “sad and we will fight it, and we will fight it hard.”

He was released without any pre-trial restrictions. The trial will likely begin in January 2024, the judge, Juan Merchan, added during the hour-long hearing, though Trump’s attorneys have indicated they would prefer to move it back to the spring.

Trump surrendered to police in New York ahead of his trial on Tuesday.

Trump flew from Florida to New York on Monday with secret service details and his political and legal teams, including newly appointed lead attorney Todd Blanche, a high-profile white-collar criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. Supporters and protesters were waiting for the former president behind steel barriers as he arrived at Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan.

On Tuesday morning, a large crowd of journalists, Trump supporters and critics filled the park across the street from the courtroom to watch Trump arrive in a black limousine for processing.

In the center of the park, Trump critics put up a sign that read “Trump lies all the time” in big, bold letters. Nadine Seiler, 57, stood nearby wearing a “Trump Accused” T-shirt and holding a sign above her head that read, “COMING FINALLY: ARREST TRUMP.”

Zeiler said she decided to travel from her home in Waldorf, Maryland, after hearing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-GA, would be in New York. Seiler said she believed Green wanted a “second insurrection” and was traveling to New York to incite Trump supporters to action.

“I had no plans to come here. But when I decided she was going to bring her thugs to New York City, I felt obligated to come,” said Seiler.

Dion Senney of Brooklyn had a red “Trump or die flag” emblazoned with the years 1776 and 2024 and an image of Trump’s face. He said the Manhattan district attorney should have used the resources to investigate a “true crime” occurring in his neighborhood. There could be a crime in this indictment, he said, but added that there is currently no line Trump can cross that would make him turn on the former president.

“Like he (Trump) said, he can shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue, and I really don’t care, because what he does to America outweighs, you know, a crime like that,” Seni said. “He said it, I didn’t, but I support him because he’s the only American president who has said, since George Washington, America first. No president has ever said that.”

Police in New York City and across the country were concerned that the planned protests could turn violent, but aside from petty squabbles, the demonstrations have so far remained quiet.

Trump was indicted by a grand jury in Manhattan last week following an investigation into the payment of $130,000 by his former attorney Michael D. Cohen to adult film actor Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election. The money was allegedly paid to stop Daniels from saying publicly that she had an affair with Trump.

The former president was accused of concealing a payment and further compensation to Cohen later by funneling those payments through his company and registering them as legal services. Cohen has not done legal work for Trump while in the White House.

Despite the heavy focus on Daniels, the charges could extend to the Trump Organization and possibly include a separate payment for former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Cohen, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to crimes related to alleged payments to Daniels and served three years in prison, is expected to be a key witness if the case goes to trial. His attorney, Lanny Davis, told CNN on Sunday that Cohen provided Manhattan prosecutors with “substantive documents” about payments to Daniels and McDougall to support his testimony.

Last month, Trump warned of “potential death and destruction” if indicted, and law enforcement agencies are on high alert in New York and across the country. President Joe Biden told reporters Monday that he is confident the police will be able to handle any disturbances.

Trump has announced a campaign for president in 2024, and his Republican allies have sought to paint the Prague investigation as a politically motivated attempt to interfere in the election. The investigation began in 2018, but has been repeatedly put forward by other prosecutors.

The former president also faces separate federal investigations into his alleged involvement in the 2020 election by his supporters and the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol, along with his handling of classified documents after leaving office. Special Counsel Jack Smith, appointed by US Attorney General Merrick Garland in November, has invited grand juries to hear witnesses in both federal investigations, including members of Trump’s Secret Service.

Trump also faces possible charges of statewide election interference in Georgia. Fulton County District Attorney Fannie Willis is examining potential indictments related to Trump’s attempts to change voting results in Georgia after the 2020 election.

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