Trump Pleads Not Guilty to 34 Felony Counts of Falsifying Business Records and Conspiracy
Each of the 34 counts filed against Donald Trump represents an instance where "false statements" were made on New York business records "to cover up other crimes," New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg said at a press conference Tuesday.
Former President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and conspiracy. Several of those counts are in connection to alleged “hush money” paid out to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016 after their alleged affair.
Each count represents an instance where "false statements" were made on New York business records "to cover up other crimes," New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg said at a press conference Tuesday.
"These are felony crimes in New York State, no matter who you are," said Bragg, who is the first prosecutor to charge Trump with a crime.
The prosecutor told reporters that for nine straight months, Trump allegedly held documents in his hand containing the statement that he was paying Michael Cohen for legal services, which Bragg classified as a "key lie." Instead, Bragg said, those were actually reimbursements for money Cohen paid to Daniels in the run-up of the 2016 presidential election so she would not speak of her alleged affair with Trump. Trump denies having an affair with Daniels.
Bragg also said the payments were misrepresented to tax authorities.
"True and accurate business records are important everywhere, to be sure," Bragg said. "They are all the more important in Manhattan, the financial center of the world."
Prosecuting the falsifying of business records "is the bread and butter" of the Manhattan district attorney's office's white-collar work, Bragg said, noting the case against the former president includes allegations like others in other cases brought by his office.
“Everyone stands equal under the law,” Bragg said. “No amount of money and no amount of power” changes that, he said.
Noting he has been doing this sort of work for 24 years, Bragg said he is "no stranger" to complex cases, and that in this instance, this case was ready to be brought.
“It’s not just about one payment,” Bragg said when asked about payments that were allegedly paid out to others besides Daniels. Those other payments bear on the conspiracy part of the state election law he mentioned, Bragg said.
"It's not just one, $130,000 wire payment," he said.
Bragg's comments were made after Trump's appearance in Manhattan court following his surrendering to police to face the unprecedented charges for the first time. Trump made the trip from his Florida estate to Manhattan on Monday.
Trump is the first-ever U.S. president to be charged with a crime.
After posting on Truth Social about the flawed justice system and a call for a switch in court venues, Trump turned himself in at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on Tuesday.
Trump was only held in custody for a short period of time after being arrested and fingerprinted before he made an appearance in court.
Ahead of the arraignment, Trump had said he planned to fly from LaGuardia back to Mar-a-Lago to deliver a public address Tuesday, CNN reported.
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