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Trump surrenders in New York court, claims he’s being charged in “fake case”

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Donald Trump made history yesterday as the first president — present or past — to face criminal charges in a courtroom. Trump was accused by prosecutors of masterminding a plan to conceal potential sex scandals during the 2016 presidential campaign and committing fraud to prevent them from coming to light.

Trump was faced with 34 felony charges during his appearance in a Manhattan court Tuesday. Despite surrendering to the court, Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges. The court filings revealed various instances in which Trump was alleged to have paid off others to prevent negative stories from emerging during the campaign. The prosecution pointed to these examples as evidence of a pattern of behavior that could sway the judge and jury to convict Trump.

Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, contended that Donald Trump had not just misled or exaggerated the truth to the public but had breached several laws by deceiving voters through the use of hush money. Bragg stated, “That payment was to hide damaging information from the voting public.”

Following his court appearance, Trump maintained his stance that the charges against him were false and politically motivated while speaking from his home in Florida. He claimed that he was being framed only to cause interference with the upcoming 2024 elections, and the charges should be dropped immediately.

The charges brought against Trump are all connected to the $130,000 payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges that she had a romantic relationship with Trump. Bragg implied that he would aim to illustrate during the trial that the payment was not an isolated blunder but instead a regular practice of Trump’s business dealings. He stated that it was “not just about one payment.”

Prosecutors detailed in legal papers three occurrences during the 2016 presidential campaign where they asserted that Trump had concealed information. These incidents were already in the public domain.

During the 2016 campaign, Daniels tried to sell her story of an alleged affair with Trump. The National Enquirer, run by Trump’s ally David Pecker, arranged for Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, to pay Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about the matter. Trump reimbursed Cohen during his presidency, and prosecutors claim that the company classified the payment as legal expenses with a non-existent retainer agreement, leading to fraud charges.

Additionally, Karen McDougal, a former Playboy ‘Playmate of the Year,’ also tried to sell her story of an alleged affair with Trump. The National Enquirer paid $150,000 to suppress her account. Finally, prosecutors also mentioned a payment of $30,000 made by The National Enquirer to a former Trump Tower doorman who claimed that Trump had fathered a child out of wedlock, though the tabloid later determined his claim was false.

Trump faces charges of falsifying business records that were elevated to felonies from misdemeanors by linking them to violations of election and tax laws. Bragg argues that the hush money payment to Daniels amounted to an illegal campaign contribution and that disguising it as legal expenses misrepresented payments to tax authorities. While the unique charges and circumstances of charging a former president could make the case harder to win, the connection between falsifying business records and potential tax law violations could put the case on firmer ground.

A section of both Trump’s supporters and critics argue that the charges against him push the boundaries of the law, citing that previous prosecutors did not file charges for similar cases. Lawyer Jim Trusty, representing Trump, accused Alvin Bragg of pursuing a case that no one else wanted to touch.

The case is expected to last for some time, with the next hearing scheduled for December 4, 2023, coinciding with the 2024 Republican primary campaign.


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