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Day 805

1/ Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts related to hush money payments made during his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump, the nation’s 45th president and the Republican Party’s leading presidential candidate in the 2024 race, surrendered himself to the Manhattan district attorney’s office and appeared before a judge for his arraignment, where he entered a not guilty plea to falsifying business records in the first degree. Trump is the first former or sitting American president to be criminally charged and faces a maximum of four years in prison if convicted. While in custody, he was fingerprinted like any felony defendant, but special accommodations were made: Trump did not have a mug shot taken and was not handcuffed. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office allege that Trump “orchestrated” a “scheme” to help his 2016 presidential campaign through a series of hush money payments made by others, and then “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records” to “cover up crimes.” Prosecutor Chris Conroy told the court that Trump engaged in an “illegal conspiracy” to aid his campaign and “undermine the election.” All 34 counts against Trump are linked to a series of checks reimbursing Michael Cohen for his role in paying off adult film star Stormy Daniels, Playboy model Karen McDougal, and a former Trump Tower doorman who’d claimed to have a story about a child Trump had out of wedlock. Hours before the arraignment, Trump posted on his personal social network that the experience is “SURREAL,” adding, “WOW, they are going to ARREST ME. Can’t believe this is happening in America.” Trump is the focus of three other criminal investigations, including efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House. Following the arraignment, Bragg told reporters: “Everyone stands equal before the law. No amount of money and no amount of power changes that enduring American principle.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Associated Press / NPR / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CBS News / CNBC / ABC News / Axios)

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