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Trump has been arrested before being prosecuted on charges of paying a porn star on the campaign trail

In the end, there were no cameras inside the court, no known footage, no handcuffs, and they are not kept in any cell. But that didn’t take the headlines away from the unprecedented scene: For the first time in history, a president of the United States, sitting or retired, surrendered to authorities to be fingerprinted and read the charges against him. Trump has pleaded not guilty and the judge is expected to release him.

Donald Trump left his namesake tower in New York this morning and headed to Manhattan Criminal Court, where hundreds of reporters and a handful of supporters were waiting for him in a timid demonstration in a park outside the court’s headquarters. “Today is the day when the ruling political party arrests its main opponent for some crime,” the former president said in a statement hours ago, insisting on the narrative that he is the victim of political persecution.

At the courthouse, Judge Juan Mercani will read the charges that make up his indictment, which was handed up by a grand jury last Thursday but remains sealed. District Attorney Alvin Bragg accuses him of covering up payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels to buy her hush-hush in the middle of the 2016 election campaign about an extramarital affair they had a decade earlier.

Although paying to hush up a media scandal is not a crime in New York, the document falsification that Trump used to pay bribes to his lawyer, Michael Cohen (who had already pleaded guilty in 2018), would have been fraudulent. A misdemeanor that can be aggravated if it is proven that the forgery was used to commit another crime, such as an election law violation.

Bragg’s indictment will be announced in the next few hours, in a case presided over by Judge Juan Mercani, who already presided over the trial in which the Trump Organization was convicted of tax fraud and oversaw the former fraud case. Councilor Steve Bannon.

Trump’s rally failed

Outside the headquarters, where Trump called on his supporters to protest “to take back the nation,” his most loyal supporters turned out to be only a few dozen. Republican Congresswoman Major Taylor Green, one of Trump’s biggest allies on Capitol Hill, led the rally in Manhattan Criminal Court.

“Even though they allow crime in their streets, they send their services here (to preside over the courts) … The Democrats are the party of violence.” he said with a megaphone in hand, surrounded by more reporters than protesters, at a rally also attended by George Santos, the congressman known for inventing much of his resume to get New York elected to the House of Representatives. After ten minutes he abandoned the call.

Protests are expected to take place in New York as the allegations against Trump become public. But there’s no reason to expect anything like an attack on Capitol Hill, as some in the media have predicted because of the incendiary tone the tycoon has used in recent days. To prevent that, the city’s Democratic mayor, Eric Adams, put more than 35,000 police on alert Monday and called for calm over the possibility of riots: “There are provocateurs who are thinking about coming to our city tomorrow. Our message to them is clear: control yourself. New York is our home, not a schoolyard where you can come and get rid of your hate.”

In addition, to prevent the case from becoming a media sensation, Judge Merchan denied a request by the US mainstream media to have cameras present during Trump’s appearance. This is common in Manhattan court cases, but the urgency of the case prompted the television station to ask the magistrate to make an exception. On the other hand, up to five accredited photographers entered – a few minutes before the appearance – and video cameras only penetrated the corridors.

In the letter, Merchan justified his decision, agreeing with Trump’s lawyers, arguing that the presence of cameras would only contribute to the creation of a “circus atmosphere” and would “inevitably cause harm” for security reasons. Even so, the judge admitted to television stations that this is a “monumental matter” because “never in the history of the United States has a sitting or former president been indicted on criminal charges.” In addition, to avoid damaging the case, the usual police photographs, frontal and profile, were not taken, for fear that possible leaks could contaminate the case.

Trump, increasingly cornered, is trying to buy time

This is Trump’s first indictment in a long list of court cases: attempted fraud in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, classified documents seized from his private residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, or his key role in the storm. Capitol in 2021, the greatest insult to American democracy in the modern era.

In all of these cases, the tycoon is using stalling tactics to drag out the process as long as possible and set the stage for the final stretch of his election campaign late next year. This case was no different. This morning, he flooded his Truth Social account – his own social network, which has become his main window to communicate with the world – with messages repeating the ex-president’s sacrificial rhetoric and where he demanded a change of judicial staff and judge.

“It’s a very unfair place, in some areas (of Manhattan) only 1% voted Republican. This case should be moved to Staten Island,” he said, suggesting another New York district with a large majority of Republican voters. After this sentence, he attacked Judge Merchan: “He and his family are known Trump haters. It was already very unfair in another case,” he said, referring to the judge who sentenced the Trump Organization (although he excluded the former president from the sentence).

Political and economic income of imputation

From the day he himself announced that he had been impeached, Trump has benefited from the situation, both politically and economically. First of all, his official and hypothetical rivals for the primaries closed ranks with him and accused the courts of concocting politically motivated charges. That narrative has given him his best poll results since he announced his candidacy: he has the support of 57% of Republican voters, 26 points ahead of Ron DeSantis. All of this has prompted Trump to restore the image of a leader that many Republicans began to question in November after some disappointing results in the midterm elections.

“I am overwhelmed by all the donations, support and prayers I have received,” the former president said Tuesday in an address to his followers, whom he refers to as “patriots.” Trump is using impeachment to raise more money for his campaign: he raised more than a million dollars the day before the impeachment trial, and has already raised more than $7 million since the news broke last Thursday. This was revealed by his campaign team, who already see themselves as the victors in the election race that has just started and will culminate on November 5, 2024.

But first he will have to win the Republican primary, a battle where there are more and more competitors. The latest to announce a candidacy was former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who this week was highly critical of Trump’s incendiary role: “I’m convinced that people want leaders who appeal to the best part of Americans, not just us. Worst instincts.” Hutchinson publicly asked the mogul to step down because the affiliation would be “too much distraction and spectacle” in the middle of the campaign.

Source: El Diario





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