Former United States Of America President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty in a New York court on Tuesday after being charged with 34 counts of first-degree forgery.
The charges are related to hush-money payments during the 2016 presidential election stem from a lengthy investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Bragg alleged that Trump “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal activity that withheld damaging information from voters during the 2016 presidential election.”
In 2019, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York declined to charge Trump with payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. The Federal Election Commission has also decided to investigate the matter in 2021.
Trump turned himself in to the Manhattan District Attorney and appeared in court Tuesday afternoon after being indicted by a Manhattan grand jury last week.
The indictment was unsealed in court during Trump’s arraignment Tuesday before Judge Juan Merchan, the trial judge presiding over the case. Trump was charged in a New York Supreme Court indictment with 34 counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.
Bragg is alleging that Trump falsified New York business records in order to “conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election.” “During the election, TRUMP and others employed a ‘catch and kill’ scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects,” Bragg alleged. “TRUMP then went to great lengths to hide this conduct, causing dozens of false entries in business records to conceal criminal activity, including attempts to violate state and federal election laws.
According to New York state law, a charge of falsifying business records in the first degree alleges that the defendant committed a crime of falsifying business records with the intent to defraud. The intent to defraud would be an intent to commit another crime.
Trump pleaded not guilty. The judge did not impose a gag order.
The judge said he would like to move ahead as expeditiously as possible with the case. The next hearing in the case is Dec. 4, 2023 in the same Lower Manhattan court.
The prosecution wants a trial in January 2024—the height of the GOP presidential primary season. Trump’s defense wants to delay that as long as possible