NEW YORK (APP): Former US President Donald Trump reportedly entered a plea of not guilty in Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and conspiracy, in the first criminal prosecution of a former head of state in U.S. history.
Trump, 76, entered the plea around 2:45 p.m. local time (11-45 pm PST) on Tuesday before Manhattan criminal court Judge Juan Merchan, multiple electronic reported.
The charges against Trump include conspiracy, elevating the case against him to an unexpected level of seriousness, the reports said.
Trump surrendered at Manhattan criminal court just after 1 p.m. (10 pm PST) on Tuesday, and called his imminent arrest a “surreal” moment in a Truth Social post just before entering the courthouse.
Trump, who did not speak to reporters before appearing before the judge, looked somber and angry as he sat between his attorneys Susan Necheles and Joe Tacopina inside the courtroom.
In addition to Tacopina and Necheles, Trump was flanked by attorney Todd Blanche, legal advisor Boris Ephsteyn, advisor Jason Miller and aide Walt Nauta at the courthouse, The New York Times reported.
Trump was formally arrested, fingerprinted and held in an office off the courtroom before entering his plea, though he did not have his mug shot taken, The New York Times reported (experts speculated prior to his arrest that a mug shot may not be necessary, given that Trump’s appearance is widely known).
Trump spent the night at his apartment in Trump Tower after flying from Mar-A-Lago in Florida to New York on Monday. Pro- and anti-Trump protesters gathered alongside a throng of reporters outside the courthouse on Tuesday morning.
While the indictment is under seal and the charges have yet to be made public, Trump reportedly faces 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree and conspiracy. The charges are widely expected to be tied to a deal his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made with Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about their alleged affair in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.
Prosecutors were widely expected to be considering charges of falsifying business records, after federal prosecutors determined in a separate 2018 case against Cohen that the Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen for the payments to Daniels and falsely specified that the services were for legal purposes.
Trump has denied the alleged affair and his attorneys have claimed Daniels extorted him for the $130,000 payment.