President Donald Trump has arrived at the Manhattan courthouse ahead of his scheduled arraignment when charges will be announced against him for the first time.
Prior to his appearance in court, Trump is expected to undergo standard processing in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who has led the investigation of the former president. Trump is expected to be fingerprinted and read his Miranda Rights. Media reports have stated that the former president will not have to get his mug short taken.
The arraignment is scheduled at the New York County Supreme Court at 2:15 p.m. Judge Juan Merchan will preside over Trump’s arraignment.
Trump is facing charges related to an alleged hush money payment he made to porn actress Stormy Daniels in 2006. Daniels claims that Trump had an affair with her, but Trump has denied the charge. The alleged payment was carried out by attorney Michael Cohen, a former Trump ally who has turned against the former president.
The arraignment marks the first proceeding of the criminal prosecution of a former president, something unprecedented in American history. It came days after a New York grand jury voted to indict Trump on March 30.
While the indictment remains sealed, legal experts anticipate that Trump would be charged with felony-level falsifying business records. This charge would require Bragg to prove that Trump intended to falsify business records in an attempt to commit or cover up another crime—in this case, federal campaign finance violations.
It is believed that the case heavily relies on the testimony of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Weeks before the 2016 presidential election, Cohen paid $130,000 in hush money to Daniels to prevent her from going public about an alleged affair she had with Trump a decade earlier. Trump denies the affair.
Cohen pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance laws in 2018 by arranging payments to Daniels and another woman who claimed to have had an affair with Trump. In his plea agreement, Cohen claimed to have done so at Trump’s direction and that he was reimbursed by the Trump Organization through routine legal expenses, despite his earlier claims to the contrary.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing in the matter, denouncing the case as “political persecution.”
Possible Gag Order
It has been speculated that Bragg may request the judge issue a gag order to prevent Trump from discussing the case publicly, a move that Republicans were quick to denounce as “unconstitutional.”
If the judge agrees to Bragg’s request, it could mean that Trump or his lawyers could be found in contempt of court if they try to discuss the case publicly.
In an April 4 press release, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) expressed significant concerns over reports that Bragg may seek a gag order against Trump.
“To put any restrictions on the ability of President Trump to discuss his mistreatment at the hands of this politically motivated prosecutor would only further demonstrate the weaponization of the New York justice system,” the duo wrote. “To even contemplate stifling the speech of the former commander in chief and current candidate for President is at odds with everything America stands for.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a longtime Trump ally, appeared before the courthouse the same morning at a rally in support of the former president, where she blasted Bragg’s investigation.
“Every American should take a stand,” she added. “This is what happens in communist countries, not the United States of America. We have to take a stand against the injustice, the corruption, and the communist Democrats who are taking our legal code and twisting it, manipulating it, and converting it into something it was never meant to be.”
Greene’s comments came amid competing protests over the indictment.
Republicans and other pro-Trump voices took to the streets to denounce the planned charges, while counter-protestors mounted a rally in support of Bragg’s move.
Organized by the New York Young Republicans Club, the pro-Trump protest was met with pushback from counter-protesters who were there to express their distaste for the former president.
Displaying banners with such statements as “Trump Lies All the Time” and “Trump 4 Prison,” the anti-Trump protesters jeered, whistled, and shouted obscenities during Greene’s remarks in an attempt to drown her out.
Trump is expected to speak to reporters briefly outside the courtroom before a scheduled speech later tonight at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida.
Further protests are expected following Trump’s arraignment.
During an April 4 appearance on NTD, the sister media outlet of The Epoch Times, former White House aide Peter Navarro called the criminal proceedings “a crossing the Rubicon kind of event” for Democrats. He expressed concerns that protests following the arraignment could turn violent due to infiltration by agent provocateurs and encouraged protesters to keep things peaceful and make records of anyone endorsing or pushing for violence.
Gary Bai and Samantha Flom contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times