Former President Donald Trump turned himself into authorities Tuesday, on charges relating to his paying hush money to adult film performer Stormy Daniels.
Trump, 76, pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of first degree falsifying business records in New York Supreme Court for allegedly buying off information that could have portrayed him in a negative light.
This included allegedly paying Daniels, another woman and a doorman through an intermediary during the 2016 election cycle as a means of keeping Trump’s affairs with the women quiet.
Trump allegedly provided the money even though Daniels reportedly had been open about his affair with her in previous years.
Court records state that Trump and others were complicit in a scheme that “violated election laws and made and caused false entries in the business records of various entities in New York. The participants also took steps that mischaracterized, for tax purposes, the true nature of the payments made in furtherance of the scheme,” court records state.
This is the first time in U.S. history that a former or sitting president has been indicted and arraigned on criminal charges.
New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce issued a statement following Trump’s arraignment which he stated was allowing the “justice system to be politicized.”
“The charges released today only add more questions about the credibility of this indictment. No new information was given in the unsealed documents. Federal and district prosecutors previously decided not to charge the same allegations made against former President Trump almost seven years ago,” Pearce’s statement said. “It’s disheartening that cases of political vengeance can prevail in America. Our country is facing an epidemic of political injustice, something New Mexicans experience daily. Progressives refuse to hold violent criminals accountable and release them back onto our streets.”
Following Trump’s arraignment, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg issued a news release with some of the case’s court documents included.
“The People of the State of New York allege that Donald J. Trump repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal crimes that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election,” Bragg said in the news release.
Bragg added that since Manhattan is one of the U.S.’s business centers, that “we cannot allow New York businesses to manipulate their records to cover up criminal conduct. As the Statement of Facts describes, the trail of money and lies exposes a pattern that, the People allege, violates one of New York’s basic and fundamental business laws. As this office has done time and time again, we today uphold our solemn responsibility to ensure that everyone stands equal before the law.”
A grand jury’s purpose is to establish probable cause in the charges against a defendant.
In an arraignment, the defendant appears before a judge for the first time and enters a plea. The arraignment followed Trump’s voluntary surrender Tuesday where he was processed including being placed under arrest and getting fingerprinted. Since Trump is being arraigned on a white collar crime, a mugshot was not included.
Trump announced his bid for re-election shortly after the 2022 midterms were completed.
His candidacy will remain intact even if convicted, since the U.S. Constitution lists three qualifications for the Presidency: “the President must be at least 35 years of age, be a natural born citizen, and must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years,” according to whitehouse.gov.
The Democratic Party of New Mexico was contacted for this story but did not respond to repeated attempts for comment.