” Not guilty. Donald Trump said no more on Tuesday during his historic appearance before a Manhattan judge. The latter had just asked him how he was pleading to the 34 charges against him for falsifying business documents concerning a payment of $ 130,000 to porn actress Stormy Daniels.
The world’s most famous defendant came to his senses later on an unprecedented day in the United States, where no president, sitting or not, had ever had to face a criminal charge.
“The only crime I have committed is fearlessly defending our nation against those who seek to destroy it,” he told fans at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Florida, calling his charge of “insult to the nation”. “This should never have happened in America. »
“The criminal is the Manhattan District Attorney because he unlawfully disclosed a massive amount of information regarding the grand jury, for which he should be prosecuted or, at a minimum, resign,” he said during the interview. an intervention punctuated by several exaggerations and lies.
Melania Trump was conspicuous by her absence during this intervention.
Earlier in the day, at a press conference, Alvin Bragg accused the former president of violating New York State and United States election laws by paying two women, not one. alone, for their silence on alleged sexual relations with him.
Karen McDougall, Playmate of 1998, is the second woman.
“This scheme violated New York Elections Law, which makes it a crime to conspire to promote a candidacy by unlawful means. The wire transfer of $130,000 exceeded the federal campaign contribution limit,” the Manhattan prosecutor said.
But the crimes that Donald Trump may have wanted to cover up by falsifying his company’s records are not mentioned in the indictment, a fact that has earned Alvin Bragg criticism from some experts.
According to a “statement of facts” submitted by the Manhattan prosecutor and accompanying the indictment, the payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, as well as that made to a third person, were part of a “scheme” to avoid the publication of negative information during the 2016 presidential campaign.
That said, the 34 counts relate exclusively to money paid to Stormy Daniels by Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former attorney. The latter reimbursed his lawyer by signing 9 of the 11 checks given to Cohen after he entered the White House in 2017.
As for the “scheme” in which Donald Trump is allegedly involved, it is said to have arisen from an August 2015 meeting between Donald Trump and a longtime friend, David Pecker, who was then owner of the National Enquirer.
According to the “statement of facts,” David Pecker then offered to help the presidential candidate’s campaign by intercepting potentially negative stories on his account by buying and burying them, a practice called “catch and kill.”
The National Enquirer made two payments under the alleged scheme, one of $30,000 to a doorman at Trump Tower and another of $150,000 to Karen McDougal, who claimed to have had an affair with Donald Trump.
The doorman threatened for his part to say that Trump had had a child with one of his employees, which was false. He still received payment.
Stormy Daniels tried to sell her story to the National Enquirer, but one of David Pecker’s assistants advised her to contact Michael Cohen.
Donald Trump went to court shortly before 1:30 p.m., after traveling by limo from Trump Tower to Manhattan Criminal Court, where the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is also located.
An hour later, looking gloomy, he entered Judge Juan Merchan’s courtroom, after giving his fingerprints. Although he avoided handcuffs and a mugshot, his campaign team sold t-shirts emblazoned with a fake “mugshot” and the message “Not Guilty.”
The judge set December 4 as the next hearing and did not force the parties to remain silent on the case until then.
Despite fears, no acts of violence have been reported in New York. A few hundred Trump critics and supporters gathered in a small park across from the courthouse, where they shouted and shouted loudly at each other.
In the morning, the Republican representative of Georgia, Marjorie Taylor Greene, made her turn there, taking the opportunity to criticize the Democrats.
“It’s a parody”, launched the far-right pasionaria using a megaphone which did not prevent the former president’s detractors from burying his remarks under shouts and boos.
After five minutes, she left the park under escort, but not before calling the Democrats a “party of violence.”
To avoid any overflow, the police had installed barriers to separate supporters and critics of Donald Trump. This did not prevent Ozzie Hernandez, a 58-year-old New Yorker, from waving an anti-Trump poster among the pro-Trump crowd.
“I am exercising my First Amendment rights,” he said, under the protection of two police officers.
“Some Donald Trump supporters think he can walk on water. He can’t. He will be condemned. Unfortunately, there is no mandatory prison sentence attached to his crime. He will probably get a slap on the wrist. Fortunately, this is only the beginning of his troubles with the law. »
Not far from him, Michele Mills, an artist from Saugerties, New York, seemed to believe on the contrary that Donald Trump could work miracles after his indictment in New York.
“All of this will help him get back to the White House,” she said. Alvin Bragg just made the biggest mistake of his career. I know how this will end.
“And how will it end?”
“God will win, which means the people will win.” »