Former US President Donald Trump on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts related to hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election. Trump entered his plea during his arraignment at a Manhattan court, arriving to surrender in an eight-car motorcade. The former president was represented by his defense attorneys who previously declared his innocence in these criminal charges.
The 76-year-old was arrested as he arrived and issued a mugshot picture of himself wearing a t-shirt saying “not guilty”. He was immediately released, and is now on his way back to Florida to deliver remarks at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach.
The Trump campaign also released a statement claiming his innocence as they leverage the events in New York to rile up his supporters in anticipation of a run in the 2024 presidential elections. Trump assured his supporters with a message that he posted on Truth Social before his arrest, saying “Can’t believe this is happening in America. MAGA!”
The criminal charges have sent shockwaves throughout the country, as it is the first time that a former US president has been arrested in history. Trump’s legal troubles may not stop here, because he’s also under investigation for potential criminal activities related to tax fraud, money laundering, and other matters.
White HousePress Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked to comment on the legal matters, but she declined, saying that it is an ongoing case. She assured reporters that President Joe Biden was made aware but not given a head’s up about Trump’s indictment, and noted that the president is focusing on things that benefit the American people.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams also warned against troublesome behavior, as hundreds of Trump’s supporters have gathered in the city to show their support. Security was tightened in the area around the courthouse in lower Manhattan, in particular.
Trump is currently the front-runner among all 2024 declared and potential contenders for the White House Republicans nomination. However, according to US law, a candidate found guilty of a crime may still be allowed to campaign and serve as president, even from prison.