Trump to Appear in New York Court Today

Gary Bai
By Gary Bai
April 4, 2023Trump Indictmentshare
Trump to Appear in New York Court Today
Former president Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower in New York on April 3, 2023. (Bryan Woolston/AP Photo)

NEW YORK—Former President Donald Trump is expected to appear in a New York court Tuesday for an arraignment hearing where he is expected to receive felony charges in connection to a 2016 alleged hush money payment to adult entertainment actress Stormy Daniels.

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 set to be fingerprinted, have his mug shot taken, and read his Miranda Rights.

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 and the subsequent proceedings.

Tuesday’s arraignment will kick off 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.

On Tuesday morning, hundreds of media employees and dozens of protesters had gathered outside the court.

It is unclear how Trump, who will be accompanied by Secret Service the entire time, will enter the courthouse, though experts do not expect him to have to do a “perp walk” or public arrival due to security reasons. Joseph Tacopina, one of Trump’s attorneys on the case, has said the former president won’t be handcuffed.

Trump’s mug shot is not expected to be released given that New York laws restrict its publication unless a law enforcement purpose can be established. Alina Habba, another lawyer for Trump, said Monday that she would oppose any release or leak of Trump’s mug shot.

“Mugshots are for people so that you recognize who they are. He is the most recognized face in the world, let alone the country right now, so there’s no need for that. There’s no need for the theatrics,” Habba told CNN.

The former president flew into New York on Monday afternoon and arrived at Trump Tower around 4:25 p.m., where he stayed the night. Outside his Manhattan home, a small crowd of supporters gathered to cheer Trump on, waving American flags and chanting “we love Trump.”

Charges

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 2015 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.”

The Arraignment 

During the arraignment, Trump’s defense attorney will be handed the charges against the former president. The hearing will not be televised.

Tacopina, Trump’s attorney, told Fox New’s Hannity late Monday that he expects to file multiple motions to dismiss after receiving the indictment.

“There will be a host of motions we’re going to make, including, I’m telling you right off the bat, a motion to dismiss based on selective prosecution and prosecutorial misconduct,” Tacopina said, adding that the defense team will consider other motions after seeing the indictment, such as a venue change.

The judge could also potentially issue a gag order, preventing Trump and his attorneys from publically speaking about the case. Violations could mean that a person is found in contempt of court. Though legal experts say that they don’t expect such an order given its potential to interfere with the presidential election.

Trump is expected to be released following the arraignment, given that New York laws bar prosecutors from seeking bail in non-violent felony offenses.

The former president then heads home to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, where he is due to make a speech hours after the arraignment at 8:15 p.m. ET.

Legal Hurdles

According to some legal experts, Bragg’s case against Trump faces significant legal hurdles.

Alan Dershowitz, a legal scholar who taught at Harvard Law for 50 years, was highly skeptical of Bragg’s possible bid to combine state and federal laws—a false records charge and the campaign finance laws, respectively.

“There’s a federal campaign statute, and there’s a state record statute, and the two have nothing to do with each other,” Dershowitz told The Epoch Times on March 18. “But in order to turn the state statute into a felony, you have to borrow a federal statute, which seems to raise real, serious legal questions.”

Following the news of the indictment, he said “in 60 years of practice, this is the worst case of prosecutorial abuse I have ever seen.”

Before a court decides on the merit of this case, another dispute that Bragg could face is the statute of limitations on the charge he would bring, trial attorney John O’Connor told The Epoch Times.

The felony charge carries a statute of limitation of five years according to New York law and would have expired under normal circumstances—given that the payment was made in 2016, or about seven years ago. O’Connor said Bragg might attempt to use a provision that says the statute of limitations clock is stopped when “the defendant was continuously outside” of New York.

The issue here, therefore, hinges on the court’s interpretation of “continuously,” O’Connor said, taking into consideration the fact that Trump lived in Washington D.C. and Florida for most of the time since the alleged felony’s time of commission.

Notwithstanding the spotlight on the case, Dershowitz, O’Connor, and Clark Neily, senior vice president for legal studies at the Cato Institute, all told The Epoch Times in March that Bragg’s case stands on a shaky legal foundation.

“When you go after somebody who’s running for president, you better have a slam dunk—and this one isn’t even close,” Dershowitz said.

From The Epoch Times

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