Donald Trump has personally pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts as he appeared in a New York court, becoming the first former US president to face criminal charges. The allegations relate to him falsifying business records. A felony is usually defined as a crime punishable by a year or more in prison.
Together the charges carry a maximum sentence of 136 years in jail under New York law, but if he is convicted at a trial the term would almost certainly be far less than that.
Former President Donald Trump sits at the defense table with his defense team in a Manhattan court
Trump, 76, was earlier formally arrested following his arrival at Manhattan Criminal Courthouse.
The frontrunner to be the Republicans’ choice for the White House in 2024 surrendered to the Manhattan district attorney’s office in the same building before the historic hearing.
Wearing a dark blue suit and red tie, he was fingerprinted and processed but it was unclear whether a mugshot of him was also taken.
A stony-faced Trump then made his way to the courtroom, without saying anything, for his arraignment where the formal charges were disclosed. He was not in handcuffs during the proceedings.
He sat with his hands folded as he entered his plea flanked by his lawyers. “Not guilty,” Trump said.
The grand jury indictment, which has been unsealed, includes a charge of conspiracy and one of hush money payments to two women, according to Sky’s US partner network NBC News.
The investigation stemmed from an alleged $130,000 (£104,000) payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels on his behalf in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, which he won.
It was allegedly made to prevent her from discussing a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump at a hotel in Lake Tahoe in 2006.
Prosecutors also investigated a six-figure sum paid to ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep her from going public with an allegation she had sex with him.
He has denied having sexual relationships with either of the women and has denied any wrongdoing involving payments.
Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen has said the ex-president directed him to arrange the $130,000 payment to Ms Daniels.
And Trump has acknowledged reimbursing him for the payment, with the Trump Organization logging the reimbursement as legal expenses.
He calls the indictment a “witch-hunt” and claims it is politically motivated as the man who has led the investigation into him, District Attorney Alvin Bragg, is a Democrat.
Trump also says the probe is an attempt to weaken his bid to retake the White House next year.
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