New York (United States), 04/04/2023.- Former US President Donald J. Trump leaves Trump Tower to head to New York Criminal Court in New York, New York, USA, 04 April 2023. EFE/EPA/CJ GUNTHER

Trump pleads not guilty to 34 charges linked to hush money case

New York, Apr 4 (EFE).- Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to 34 counts linked to irregular payments of so-called hush money to porn actress Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign so that she would not go public about an alleged sexual affair the pair had had 10 years before.

A demonstrator outside the courthouse in Manhattan waits for ex-President Donald Trump to show up on April 4, 2023, to be indicted in the so-called hush-money case. EFE/EPA/WILL OLIVER

Trump, who has now become the first US president ever to face criminal charges, appeared before Manhattan Judge Manuel Merchan shortly after turning himself in to judicial authorities, and the magistrate then read the 34 counts against him for allegedly falsifying business records to hide the hush money payments.

Police wait outside the courthouse in Manhattan for ex-President Donald Trump to show up on April 4, 2023, to be indicted in the so-called hush-money case. EFE/EPA/SARAH YENESEL

The ex-president entered the courtroom about 2:30 pm without wearing handcuffs but showing by facial expression and body language his disgust at the proceedings.

Small groups of pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators also gathered in the vicinity in respondse to various calls to show up at Collect Park plaza next to the courthouse.

The courthouse in Manhattan where reporters and pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators wait for ex-President Donald Trump to show up on April 4, 2023, to be indicted in the so-called hush-money case. EFE/EPA/SARAH YENESEL

Dressed in a light blue suit and red tie, Trump was accompanied by his team of attorneys, with Joe Tacopina in the lead, and followed by two police officers. Immediately after entering the chamber, he heard the judge read the charges against him from case file 71543-23, according to The New York Times, which added that the ex-president and his attorneys did not respond to questions from a reporter present in the courtroom.

It is expected that, after filing his not guilty plea, Trump will fly back to his Mar-a-Lago resort and estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where this evening he has promised to make a public statement.

Shortly before arriving in court, apparently while he was in his vehicle being driven there, Trump took time to write a post on his Truth Social social network, calling his situation “surreal” and saying: “WOW, they are going to ARREST ME. Can’t believe this is happening in America.”

Police had separated the two groups with a barrier that kept the ex-president’s supporters and detractors at least two meters (yards) apart, but across the barrier the two sides remarked back and forth at each other such things as “He’s the best president” and “Lock him up!” – but all that transpired in a civilized atmosphere and without the slightest hint of aggression or violence.

Former President Donald J. Trump (r) sits in a New York courtroom with his attorneys awaiting Judge Juan Manuel Merchan's reading of the indictment against him in he so-called hugh money case. on April 4, 2023. EFE/EPA/ANDREW KELLY / POOL

The pro-Trump group had been called to the scene several days ago by Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a hardline Trump supporter, but prior to that the crowds backing the ex-president had constituted only a few dozen people, whether they gathered in New York, Miami or Washington.

Trump’s followers showed up outfitted with assorted patriotic symbols or in the costumes of superheroes, while his adversaries brought pots and cooking utensils with the aim of banging on them to silence any pro-Trump brouhaha during the day.

On Monday, New York Mayor Eric Adams warmed about potential excesses by Trump partisans, saying: “As always we will not allow violence or vandalism of any kind. If one is caught participating in any act of violence, they will be arrested and held accountable. No matter who you are.”

Adams expressly mentioned Greene, saying that: “Although we have no specific threats, people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is known to spread misinformation and hate speech [has] stated she is coming to town. While you are in town, be on your best behavior.”

In the hours before his scheduled court appearance, Trump apparently was spending the time at Trump Tower on 5th Avenue, the tourist heart of the city where he lived during his childhood and youth.

The former president and real estate magnate returned to the skyscraper bearing his name – which simultaneously is a luxury hotel and a business center – on Monday afternoon and since then he has not been seen in public.

Police have not blocked traffic along 5th Ave., but they did set up hundreds of yards of metal fencing and barriers to prevent vehicles from parking in the immediate vicinity.

Journalists from hundreds of media outlets from all over the world have been reporting from the area all morning.

EFE –/bp