The indictment just dropped: Here are the criminal charges against Donald Trump

Donald Trump was formally charged in Manhattan on Tuesday with 34 felony counts of falsification of business records in connection with 2016 hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, as well as other alleged attempts to suppress news stories about potential scandals. Trump is now the first former president to be charged with a crime. He pleaded not guilty in court, uttering the plea himself in a loud voice, according to multiple news outlets.

(Before the indictment against Trump was unsealed, several news outlets reported that it would include conspiracy charges. In fact, all 34 counts relate to falsification of business records. This article has been updated to reflect that.)

Trump was indicted by a grand jury on March 30 for his role in the payments, which were made by his former personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen. Cohen later testified that Trump had reimbursed him for the payment to keep Daniels quiet about her alleged affair with Trump.

Trump pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to 34 charges of falsification of business records in the first degree. Prosecutors sought a gag order against the former president, but the judge denied their request.

“The people of the state of New York allege that Donald J. Trump repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal crimes that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election,” District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement. “Manhattan is home to the country’s most significant business market. We cannot allow New York businesses to manipulate their records to cover up criminal conduct. As the Statement of Facts describes, the trail of money and lies exposes a pattern that, the People allege, violates one of New York’s basic and fundamental business laws. As this office has done time and time again, we today uphold our solemn responsibility to ensure that everyone stands equal before the law.” 

It’s not just the payment to Daniels. The indictment also cited payments by AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer, to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and a doorman at Trump Tower, who claimed to have information about a child Trump allegedly fathered out of wedlock.

From Bragg’s press release:

In one instance, American Media Inc. (“AMI”), paid $30,000 to a former Trump Tower doorman, who claimed to have a story about a child TRUMP had out of wedlock.

In a second instance, AMI paid $150,000 to a woman who alleged she had a sexual relationship with TRUMP. When TRUMP explicitly directed a lawyer who then worked for the Trump Organization as TRUMP’s Special Counsel (“Special Counsel”) to reimburse AMI in cash, the Special Counsel indicated to TRUMP that the payment should be made via a shell company and not by cash. AMI ultimately declined to accept reimbursement after consulting their counsel. AMI, which later admitted its conduct was unlawful in an agreement with federal prosecutors, made false entries in its business records concerning the true purpose of the $150,000 payment.

In a third instance – 12 days before the presidential general election – the Special Counsel wired $130,000 to an attorney for an adult film actress. The Special Counsel, who has since pleaded guilty and served time in prison for making the illegal campaign contribution, made the payment through a shell corporation funded through a bank in Manhattan.

The district attorney’s office said Trump reimbursed Cohen through a series of monthly checks, “first from the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust – created in New York to hold the Trump Organization’s assets during TRUMP’s presidency – and later from TRUMP’s bank account. In total, 11 checks were issued for a phony purpose.”

Nine of those checks were signed by Trump, according to the release.

“Each check was processed by the Trump Organization and illegally disguised as a payment for legal services rendered pursuant to a non-existent retainer agreement,” it continued. “In total, 34 false entries were made in New York business records to conceal the initial covert $130,000 payment. Further, participants in the scheme took steps that mischaracterized, for tax purposes, the true nature of the reimbursements.”

Trump was arraigned in Manhattan on Tuesday, capping off a five-year investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office into the payment. The former president has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and his attorney has argued that the payment at the end of the 2016 campaign had nothing to do with his campaign. Attorney Joe Tacopina has tried to frame Trump as a “victim” of an “extortion attempt” by Daniels.

Cohen pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance charges related to the payment, but Trump was never charged by federal prosecutors. Court filings from Cohen’s case show that Trump Organization executives authorized funds to him totaling $420,000, which covered the Daniels payment, tax liabilities and a bonus reward, according to CNN. Trump has denied any knowledge of the payment, which itself is not illegal.

Prosecutors instead charged Trump with falsification of business records, which can be charged as a misdemeanor but can be bumped up to a Class E felony, the lowest level of felonies under state law, if it was done to conceal another underlying crime.

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Presiding over the case is New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan, who Trump proclaimed “HATES” him in a fiery Truth Social post last week.

“The Judge ‘assigned’ to my Witch Hunt Case, a ‘Case’ that has NEVER BEEN CHARGED BEFORE, HATES ME,” Trump wrote. ” “His name is Juan Manuel Marchan [sic], was hand picked by Bragg & the Prosecutors, & is the same person who ‘railroaded’ my 75 year old former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, to take a ‘plea’ deal (Plead GUILTY, even if you are not, 90 DAYS, fight us in Court, 10 years (life!) in jail. He strong armed Allen, which a judge is not allowed to do, & treated my companies, which didn’t ‘plead,’ VICIOUSLY.” 

Tacopina rejected the argument in a recent ABC News interview.

“Do I think the judge is biased?” he said. “Of course not. How could I subscribe to that when I’ve had no interactions with the judge that would lead me to believe he’s biased?”

Trump continued to lash out at Merchan ahead of his arraignment on Tuesday, alleging that the judge was biased because his daughter once worked for Vice President Kamala Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign. The former president also demanded the case be moved from Manhattan to more conservative Staten Island.


Trump’s attacks on Merchan and Bragg could lead to the judge imposing a gag order on the former president, legal experts say

“If he violates the order,” former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade told Salon, “he could be jailed for contempt.”

Read the full indictment below:

Donald J. Trump Indictment by Igor Derysh on Scribd

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