Donald Trump, a former president, has made a not-guilty plea to 34 felony Charges. Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney who oversaw the investigation, has accused Trump of manipulating company documents to hide damaging information from 2016 election voters.
Trump is the only former president to be charged with a crime and is using the charges as campaign fodder for his reelection.
Trump’s Felony Charges
There were 34 counts of business document fabrication with a “motive to commit another crime and aid and cover the commission thereof” revealed in the indictment on Tuesday.
According to the prosecution, every transaction was processed by the Trump Organization under the pretense of being a monthly payment for legal services rendered under a retainer agreement. The charges were followed by a declaration stating, “In truth, there was no retainer agreement.”
About the ‘Catch and Kill’ scheme
Bragg asserted that Trump frequently used a “catch and kill” tactic to conceal damaging material.
According to the prosecution, The National Enquirer’s publisher, American Media Inc., and Trump allegedly “orchestrated” a conspiracy on three occasions. All three events occurred after Trump declared his presidential bid in June 2015.
The first incident occurred that fall when AMI paid $30,000 to a former doorman for Trump Tower who claimed to have information on a child that Trump had reportedly fathered outside his marriage.
Prosecutors allege that executives agreed to hold off on terminating the doorman’s contract until after the election, even though the magazine concluded that the report was untrue. Also, the payment was “falsely represented” in AMI’s books and records.
In the second case, Karen McDougal claimed to have had an affair with Trump while he was married. This incident happened in June 2016. According to the prosecution, Trump, Cohen, and the CEO of AMI, David Pecker, “had a series of discussions about who should pay off to secure her silence.”
Ultimately, AMI gave her a $150,000 payment “on the assumption” that Cohen would have Trump or his company pay the publisher back. According to the general counsel of AMI, such a refund was never made.
The last incident was when Stormy Daniels received a $130,000 payment to silence her claims that she had an affair at a celebrity golf tournament in 2006, right before the election.
All three allegations against Trump have been denied.
Trump’s and Republican’s Reaction
To close off full-day media coverage, Trump climbed the stage at Mar-a-Lago in front of his supporters to slam the charges as political persecution.
Manhattan witnessed small crowds of Trump supporters near the courtroom despite being on high alert all day, with reporters greatly outnumbering the protestors.
Adviser Jason Miller said the indictment announcement helped his campaign earn $10 million.
Throughout the GOP, Trump’s supporters and opponents used similar phrases, with even Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, accusing Bragg of promoting “a political agenda.”
A Quinnipiac survey conducted on Wednesday revealed that two-thirds of participants believe the accusations in New York are not very serious. Six out of ten people feel that the investigation is politically motivated.
It can take some time before the trial begins. The prior court date was scheduled for December 4 by Merchan. Trump’s defense requested a few additional months, possibly in the spring of 2024. The prosecution is pushing for opening arguments to start somewhere in January 2024, which is right in the middle of the primary season that might make the former president’s campaign for reelection more difficult.
If Trump gets charged in one of the three investigations he is subjected to, then complications might arise.
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