After appearing in court, Trump flew back to Florida where he addressed the charges against him and continued to take aim at both the prosecutor in his case as well as the judge.
His arraignment marks a first in US history — no other former president has ever been indicted on criminal charges. Although Trump was impeached twice as president, he had not faced criminal charges.
The indictment released during the arraignment included three separate charges of hush money, but the prosecution elevated the charges by saying that they were carried out in order to conceal or commit further crimes.
“Donald J. Trump repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement.
“We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct,” he added.
Trump’s lawyers said that Bragg had “turned a political issue into a political prosecution,” but called the indictment “boilerplate,” saying that nothing new had been added.
The judge warned all those present against incitement on social media but did not impose a gag order, which would restrict Trump and his legal team as well as others involved in the proceedings from speaking publicly about the case.
Trump is supposed to appear back in court in December, but his lawyers requested he be excused due to the major security detail needed for him to attend in person.
The prosecution has asked for the trial to begin in January 2024. If granted, the trial would begin weeks before voters cast their ballots in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.
Tuesday’s charges relate to payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels that have been investigated as campaign finance violations during his first run for the White House.
A jury voted to indict the former president last week. His legal team has professed his innocence and said they will fight the charges.
Crowds were gathered outside the court before Trump’s appearance, including both supporters and opponents, with banners and cheers. But reporters perhaps made up the largest group, waiting to catch a glimpse of the historic moment.
President Joe Biden was reportedly not paying attention to the live news of Trump’s arrest, according to the White House.
“Obviously he will catch part of the news when he has a moment to catch up on news of the day but this is not a focus for him,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Trump addressed a rally of supporters shortly after his arraignment, at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida. He described the process as an “insult to our country.”
“Everybody that’s looked at this case… say there is no crime and that it should never have been brought,” he said. “Even people who aren’t big fans have said it.”
The former president said he “never thought anything like this could happen in America.”
Despite the judge warning both Trump’s defense and the prosecution not to make statements that could “incite violence,” the former president took aim at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. He accused him of being intent on “getting” him “at any cost.”
“The only crime that I’ve committed has been to fearlessly defend our nation against those who seek to destroy it.”
Trump also took jabs at the judge handling his indictment, saying “I have a Trump-hating judge, with a Trump-hating wife and family.”