On Tuesday February 23, 2021, Donald Trump, the former President of the United States, arrived via motorcade at the Manhattan district attorney’s office to turn himself in. This marked a historic moment for the country, as the former President is now in custody and will be formally arraigned on charges of falsifying business records for a $130,000 ‘hush-money’ payment to Stormy Daniels in 2016.
The vehicle pulled up to the entrance of the 1940s-era building, surrounded by onlookers and journalists, and Trump stepped out with his Secret Service detail and lawyers in tow. Inside, he was met by the DA investigators, so-called “peace officers” who work for the District Attorney and wear the dark suits and leather gun holsters of police detectives.
At this point, Trump would have been directed to empty his pockets and told to hand any items over to his lawyers. His Secret Service detail would then accompany him through the booking process. This included computer scans of his fingerprints that would be used to search a national FBI database for any records or open warrants, as well as the potential for a mugshot. Taking the mugshot would be a webcam photographer, not the iconic Frank Sinatra-style shot, with a white background and no scale or tape measure.
Finally, if booking is done according to procedure, a swab of the inside of Trump’s mouth will be taken for the state DNA database, and his details like address, phone number and other pieces of pedigree information will be taken down. Unless someone in either the NYPD or the court system leaks the mugshot, it will remain private, as New York State considers these photos to be presumptively kept confidential.
During the arraignment process, Trump will be held in either a holding cell or interrogation room with access to food and drink, such as sandwiches, donuts and a Diet Coke. He has expressed his adamant denial of any wrongdoing, claiming that the investigation is politically biased, but will enter a plea of ‘not guilty’ in court.
Trump’s arraignment will take place in the courtroom of New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is headed by Alvin Bragg, a Democrat who has launched a white-collar investigation into information-hiding from Trump’s business operations. As an entity, it is not without controversy, as certain cases brought up against major employers have been criticized for being too harsh. They do, however, specialize in investigating white-collar crimes and have a team of experienced personnel across the judicial, law and investigative spectrums.
Ron Kuby has worked with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office before, and has helped to explain what exactly ‘being in custody’ means. According to him, the phrase comes into use when a reasonable person believes they are not free to leave–meaning Trump will remain under arrest until he’s released, most likely late into the evening.
Diana Florence also has experience as a former prosecutor in Manhattan, specializing in white-collar crimes. She was able to explain the usual booking process in detail, as well as the nuances of the procedure. According to her, the person being booked won’t be measured in terms of weight and height, as those values are put down based on the honor system.
All in all, this landmark event has rocked the United States, with both his supporters and enemies reacting strongly to the news. But only time and the authorities will tell what the consequences of this will be.