Former President Donald Trump this afternoon in a Manhattan Criminal Courtroom pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover payment to silence an adult film actress during his 2016 presidential campaign.
“In returning a 34 count indictment [see below] against Donald Trump, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office did not pull any punches,” said Joe Hayden, veteran defense attorney and legal counsel for InsiderNJ. “They
have taken and elevated those charges to a state felony on the theory that fraudulent business records were created in order to disguise a felony election violation to benefit Donald Trump’s political campaign by suppressing negative political information involving his relationship with Stormy Daniels.
“The legal theory which this indictment appears to be based on is untested, but the prosecutor’s office based every charge on the felony theory and has not pulled any punches,” Hayden added. “The prosecutor’s office also released a statement of facts which appears to be the procedure whereby the DA notifies the defendant as to the underlying prosecutorial theory. This document is robust and it talks about defendant Trump orchestrating a scheme between 2015 and 2017 to influence the 2016 presidential election by identifying and purchasing negative information which would have interfered with Trump’s electoral prospects. This detailed allegation makes apparent reference to Stormy Daniels, and a second woman who was the subject of a catch and kill scheme for negative information and even a doorman who was trying to sell information regarding a child that the defendant had allegedly fathered out of wedlock.
“The legal theory advanced by the prosecution will undoubtedly be subjected to a relentless attack, and there will also be a challenge to the right of the DA to bring a case under the statute of limitations,” said Hayden. “These decisions will have to be decided by Justice Juan Merchan and New York State Appellate courts. but factually on the basis of the number of counts in the indictment and the statement of facts which was filed the prosecution’s case appears to be far stronger than it has been credited by the pundits, even though Michael Cohen is a vulnerable witness, to say the least.
“The scary thing for Donald Trump is I suspect this may only the first domino of cases which will fall. It is probably true that this is his highest legal ground and this is the case to defend but these charges and the related evidence can well create an atmosphere, which could make it difficult for a jury to accept Trump’s defense.”
Trump’s allies protested.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2), a stout Trump ally, released the following statement on the arraignment of President Trump this afternoon:
“Ivanka Trump recently issued a statement saying, ‘I love my father, I love my country, and today, I am pained for both.’ This is indeed a sad day for our country, and make no mistake that America’s enemies in Beijing and the Kremlin are once again laughing at us,” said United States Congressman Jeff Van Drew. “This is nothing more than a political witch hunt led by some half assed local district attorney who has thoroughly, utterly, and completely failed to get criminals off the street and make New York City safer. I will continue to work with Congressman Jim Jordan and my colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee to get to the bottom of this political persecution and restore the rule of law.”
It was a long day for the former Republican President.
“Donald Trump has been arrested, as New York law enforcement continues its extended investigation into the former president’s involvement in a ‘hush money’ scheme with adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Although he will not be handcuffed, take a mug shot or be given a perp walk, he was effectively arrested when he surrendered to the court.
“After being processed at the courthouse, Trump was spotted by TV news cameras walking through the hallways to the courtroom. Once seated, photos before the arraignment were shot, showing the former president before the charges were presented to him.”
From NBC News:
“After his court appearance, Trump, who has denied all wrongdoing, is expected to return to LaGuardia Airport and head back to Florida, where he is expected to deliver a public address from Mar-a-Lago Tuesday night.”