Former President Trump Indicted by Manhattan Grand Jury

Photo shows President Trump in the Oval Office in December 2018. Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo (Creative Commons License)

By Contributing Writer Ben Falasco (’24)

On Tuesday afternoon, former U.S. President Donald Trump pled not guilty to 34 felony criminal charges linked to falsifying business records. Trump was arrested on Tuesday and appeared in court in Manhattan.

Trump was charged with trying to hide negative information that would hurt his election in 2016. The negative information includes Trump’s illegal payment of $130,000 in campaign finances to suppress the news of Trump paying women who allegedly had affairs with Trump. Trump has denied these claims.

Stormy Daniels, one of two women who accused Trump of making payments in an alleged scheme that led to the 34 felony counts, wants Trump to be “held accountable.” “The king should be dethroned, he’s no longer untouchable. Nobody should be untouchable. It doesn’t matter what your job description is, whether you’re the president — you should be held responsible for your actions,” she told Piers Morgan in a 90-minute interview, the first major interview since Trump’s indictment. It is also worth noting that Trump denies the affair he was accused of having with Daniels but acknowledges that he made the payment.

This has all led to Trump surrendering and being arrested before his court appearance in New York. This will affect his 2024 campaign for president, as he will still be fighting these charges.

It’s also worth noting that Trump was not a fan of the case being held in Manhattan and to be ruled by Judge Juan Merchan. Trump appears to have negative feelings for Judge Juan Merchan, who is located in New York and is the acting justice in his case. Merchan was previously the judge on two tax fraud cases related to Trump’s real estate firm and his former CFO, and he ruled against Trump both times. Additionally, Trump and his lawyers believes it is “impossible” for him to get a fair trial in Manhattan due to the large Democrat population. Trump went on social media, protesting for a new judge or a new trial location just days before the trial, but was ultimately unsuccessful. Merchan is viewed as a good judge by most, and his reputation is strong, leading to no action in changing the location or judge of Trump’s case. No evidence leads to the point that he has a bias against Trump. The former president’s preferred landing spot for the case was Staten Island, due to the fact there is a larger Republican population, and he claims it would be a more fair trial. His lawyers haven’t made a final decision, but they are considering requesting a change of venue before his next in-person court appearance. Additionally, one of Trump’s attorney’s, Jim Trusty says his priority is focused on getting the indictment against Trump dismissed, rather than getting a change of venue.

Immediately after the historic court appearance and his arrest, Trump traveled back to his home in Florida where he organized an event for his supporters. Trump spoke about his intentions to fight these charges. “I never thought anything like this could happen in America. It’s an insult to our country” Trump said at his event in Florida. 

Along with this event, the former president is also facing other investigations, such as being accused of trying to overturn his 2020 election loss. Trump faces a criminal investigation in Georgia involving him trying to overturn his defeat in that state.

With how much attention this Trump situation is getting, New York State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal is introducing a bill targeted at Trump. This proposal would allow cameras in New York courts to bring even more attention to Trump’s indictment and trial. The banning of cameras in court cases has been established for a while now, but the renewed attention to the Trump situation has people wanting more cameras. “I take a special responsibility as a New Yorker — the original home state of Donald Trump — to ensure that the public gets the truth about [the case’s] background,” Hoylman-Sigal states.

This situation is clearly not over for Trump and everyone involved. The next in-person court appearance for Trump is set for December 4, again in New York. In terms of the next trial being held, that could happen as soon as January of next year, which could interfere with his campaign for the 2024 election.

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