Former President Donald Trump has become the first former president to face criminal charges, as he is scheduled to appear in a Manhattan court Tuesday afternoon.
The charges are related to alleged financial improprieties, including tax fraud and evasion in relation to his hush money payoffs made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy playmate Karen McDougal.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been investigating Trump’s business dealings for several years and the charges against him based on the findings of this probe have been kept confidential until now.
According to sources close to the investigation, the 30 charges against Trump are serious and could result in a lengthy prison sentence if he is found guilty.
However, Trump has consistently denied any wrongdoing and has called the investigation a politically motivated witch hunt despite confirmation of the facts by his former attorney, Michael Cohen, and his co-conspirator, David .
As Trump fought his way to victory in the 2016 presidential campaign, he ordered Cohen to smooth his bumpy path by paying off two women who had been planning to go public with allegations of extramarital encounters with the Republican nominee.
The payoffs, and the way that Trump’s company accounted for one of them, are believed to be at the center of a grand jury investigation that led to a criminal indictment and could result in the first-ever criminal prosecution of a former U.S. president.
He’s expected to be informed he’s under arrest, fingerprinted and processed ahead of his scheduled 2:15 arraignment before acting Justice Juan Merchan. Trump is expected to enter a plea of not guilty.
The former president has also hired a team of high-profile lawyers to defend him in court. His legal team has argued that the charges are baseless and politically motivated, and they have vowed to fight them vigorously.
Trump called for “protests” in anticipation of his arrest and he ratcheted up his rhetoric, warning of “potential death and destruction” when he was criminally charged, but despite these threats it is unlikely that the judge will impose a gag order or pretrial detention.
Trump is expected to appear in court in person, accompanied by his lawyers. The hearing is expected to be closely watched by political analysts and legal experts alike, as it could have far-reaching implications for the future of US politics.
With the failures of Jan. 6 still fresh in officials’ minds, security was high in the courthouse and nearby areas as the police department, court officers and Secret Service braced for protests amid the unprecedented arraignment of a former president.
While police shut down streets and the sound of a helicopter buzzed overhead, news outlets from around the world set up cameras near long lines of spectators, some of whom had camped out overnight in the hopes of getting a coveted seat inside.
The judge has barred TV cameras from inside the courtroom but decided to allow some photographers, who will capture historic images likely to end up on newspaper front pages, in election-season ads and in future history books.
The case against Trump is likely to be a long and complex one, with multiple hearings and appeals expected, but the focus on his appearance in court today will mark a historic moment in US legal history.
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