Donald Trump charged with 34 felony counts following indictment

Photo by: Brenden Cowan

On Thursday, March 30, Donald Trump became the first former U.S. president to be indicted.

This follows a nearly five-year long investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. The investigation looked at payments made during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, in which prosecutors accused the president of participating in a scheme to silence claims of a sex scandal.

Trump surrendered and was placed under arrest on Tuesday, April 4. The former president was arraigned in a Manhattan courtroom.

Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 charges of falsifying business records, all of which are connected to his involvement in paying adult industry star Stormy Daniels “hush money.” Daniels has since claimed that she had an affair with the former president.

Included in the hush money was an illegal payment of $130,000, reportedly ordered by Trump to suppress any information that might have hurt his campaign at the time.

The revelations of these payments began to unfold in 2018, after Trump’s lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, pleaded guilty to a number of federal crimes, including campaign finance violations that involved the hush money. Cohen pleaded guilty to having paid the $130,000, having been reimbursed by Trump shortly after he had won the election.

When pleading guilty in court, Cohen revealed the realities behind these payments, stating that it was Trump who directed him to pay Daniels’ hush money.

According to charging documents, Trump “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.”

Following the arraignment on Tuesday, Trump reportedly returned to Florida, where he immediately held an event at his Mar-a-Lago resort where he made his public case against the indictment. At the event, he revealed that he plans to fight the charges while continuing his plan to run again in the 2024 presidential election.

The events which will follow the indictment are to take place in the coming months as prosecutors and defense lawyers exchange documents and evidence. New York’s law indicates that the evidence must be handed over to the defense within 65 days of the defendant’s first appearance in court. Despite this, prosecutors said at the Tuesday hearing that the process would not commence until a protective order governing how the materials would be handled is agreed upon.

In addition to this, prosecutors are working to prohibit Trump from posting anything related to the case on social media or using evidence for political purposes. Prosecutors are also only allowing the former president to review certain sensitive case material.

The next scheduled hearing for Trump’s case is set to be on Dec. 4. During this hearing, Justice Juan M. Merchan, the judge overseeing the case, will rule on motions. Motions are set to be filed by Trump’s lawyers by Aug. 8, while prosecutors will have until Sept. 19 to respond.

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