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Trump embraced at Mar-a-Lago after pleading not guilty to 34 felony counts

Former President Donald Trump was arrested Tuesday and charged with almost three dozen felony counts of falsifying business records related to 2016 hush money payments.

What to know about Trump's arraignment

  • Former President Donald Trump was arrested and surrendered to authorities at the courthouse in Manhattan around 1:30 p.m. ET and left about two hours later, after his arraignment.
  • Trump pleaded not guilty today to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to his alleged role in hush money payments toward the end of his 2016 presidential campaign — the first time a former president has had to plead to criminal charges.
  • Trump was arraigned before Judge Juan Merchan this afternoon on the charges, which resulted from an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
  • Anti-Trump and pro-Trump protesters, as well as the media, flooded the area outside the courthouse. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and George Santos, R-N.Y., made brief stops to join Trump supporters protesting his indictment but left amid the chaos.
  • Trump gave a speech tonight at Mar-a-Lago. He flew back to Florida immediately after his court hearing.

This blog has ended. Live coverage continues here.

Tacopina says clip of Bragg discussing litigation against Trump will be used in motion to dismiss

Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina, who has said Trump's legal team plans to file a motion to dismiss the Manhattan case, suggested that the motion is likely to refer to video clips of Alvin Bragg discussing Trump litigation before he was elected district attorney in 2021.

FILE - Joseph Tacopina speaks during a news conference on Sept. 2, 2021, in Schoharie, N.Y.
Attorney Joe Tacopina in Schoharie, N.Y. in 2021.Hans Pennink / AP file

Referring to a series of clips played on Sean Hannity's Fox News show that appeared to show Bragg discussing his history of litigating against Trump, Tacopina said some of the video "will be part of our motion to dismiss."

"A motion to dismiss is coming on several grounds. Prosecutorial misconduct, selective prosecution for sure will be two of them," Tacopina said.

NBC News

Michael Cohen says documents will show Trump's guilt

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who is expected to be a witness against his former boss in any potential trial stemming from the hush money probe, said the case will come down to documents, not testimony.

Michael Cohen leaves a lower Manhattan building after meeting with prosecutors, Friday, March 10, 2023, in New York.
Michael Cohen in New York, on March 10, 2023.Mary Altaffer / AP file

"I can promise you that Mr. Bragg and his qualified team will be providing a significant amount of documentary evidence that will corroborate all of the allegations," Cohen said tonight in an interview on CNN.

Cohen, who admitted to an array of crimes in 2018, said his credibility will matter less than Trump's own before a jury.

"Michael Cohen's not the defendant, Donald. You are," Cohen said into the camera.

"He thinks by attacking people — whether it's the judge or the judge's daughter, myself, or anybody — that this gives the appearance of strength. It doesn't. It actually gives the appearance of ignorance and stupidity," Cohen said.

NBC News

Trump is bracing his GOP supporters for more indictments

After having pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in New York, Trump gave a speech at Mar-a-Lago that braced his supporters for more indictments — and insisted they would all be politically motivated.

In Trump’s narrative, the cases are meritless, the prosecutors are liberals, and his critics are conspiring to wield the law against him unfairly — all with the aim of stopping him from becoming president in 2024.

The Manhattan case? A “ridiculous indictment,” he said, and “the criminal is the district attorney.”

Donald Trump arrives at the Manhattan Criminal Court on April 4, 2023.
Donald Trump arrives at the Manhattan Criminal Court on April 4, 2023.Kena Betancur / Getty Images

The probe in Washington involving misuse of presidential records? “Gun-toting” FBI agents targeted him wrongly, he said. “There is no criminality.” The special counsel charged with looking into it? A “lunatic,” he said.

His legal woes in Georgia due to his asking Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn his 2020 defeat? He said the phone call was “perfect.” And the case is about trying “to interfere with the 2024 election.”

He also went after New York Attorney General Letitia James as an anti-Trump political actor for the civil case involving him. “It’s cost hundreds of millions of dollars to defend,” he said, vowing not to settle it.

The Mar-a-Lago crowd booed the names as he mentioned them.

Trump is the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, and his speech was an attempt to give his supporters a permission structure to minimize further legal woes he anticipates.

It’s an open question whether any of his Republican rivals will challenge his claims. So far, they’ve rushed to defend him.

NBC News

After his arrest, Trump returns to Mar-a-Lago to continue campaigning for president

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Just hours after he left his fingerprints in a Manhattan courthouse and on American history, Trump returned to his home turf at the Mar-a-Lago club here and proclaimed that he is being unjustly persecuted through prosecution.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump (L) greets supporters during an event at Mar-a-Lago April 4, 2023 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Earlier in the day, Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts stemming from hush money payments in 2016 to two women, becoming the first  former U.S. president in history to be charged with a criminal offense.
Former President Donald Trump greets supporters at an event at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday.Alex Wong / Getty Images

“They can’t beat us at the ballot box, so they try to beat us through the law,” Trump, the first former president ever charged with a crime, said Tuesday night to a room of supporters that included luminaries of his movement, such as defeated Arizona GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, voter fraud evangelist Mike Lindell and Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Ronny Jackson, R-Texas.

“We are a nation in decline, and now these radical left lunatics want to interfere in elections by using law enforcement,” Trump said, tying his prosecution and the multiple investigations he faces to his false claims of a rigged election in 2020. “We can’t let that happen.”

Speaking for less than 30 minutes, Trump was subdued, and it seemed that the day had taken its toll on him. But he didn’t stop with lambasting the case in New York. Rather, he turned his attention to additional legal jeopardy he faces.

Read the full story here.

NBC News

Stormy Daniels, the doorman and a 2024 trial: The Trump indictment top takeaways

Here are some highlights and key takeaways from the indictment and the arraignment, from the charges themselves to other hush money payments.

Read the full story here.

Trump: ‘I never thought anything like this could happen in America'

NBC News

Trump criticizes Judge Merchan and his family

Trump referred to Juan Merchan and his family as "a Trump-hating judge with the Trump-hating wife and family whose daughter worked for Kamala Harris" in his speech at Mar-a-Lago.

Image: Former US president Donald Trump speaks during a press conference following his court appearance over an alleged 'hush-money' payment, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on April 4, 2023.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday. Chandan Khanna / AFP - Getty Images file

Merchan, who is presiding over Trump's criminal case, just hours earlier told Trump and potential witnesses that they should refrain from statements that might incite violence and avoid making any statements that undermine the rule of law.

Trump finishes speech largely focused on complaints about legal cases

Ginger GibsonSenior Washington Editor

Trump finished his speech at about 8:50 p.m. ET after he rattled off a list of complaints about the various investigations into him, his company and his family.

He spoke for just 25 minutes, shorter than his usual long, meandering speeches.

Trump offered criticism of Biden but otherwise stuck to criticizing prosecutors and judges.

Trump calls special counsel Jack Smith a 'flamethrower'

Ginger GibsonSenior Washington Editor

Trump rattled off a list of the legal woes he faces and offered criticism for each.

When it came to special counsel Jack Smith — who's leading a probe into Trump's handling of classified documents after he left office and his role in the effort to overturn the 2020 election — Trump accused him of being a "flamethrower."

American Prosecutor Jack Smith presides during the presentation of the Kosovar former president Hashim Thaci for the first time before a war crimes court in The Hague on Nov. 9, 2020.
Jack Smith in 2020.Jerry Lampen / Pool via AFP via Getty Images file

He went on to suggest Smith's name is an alias, although he offered no reason to believe he's anyone else.

Here are some of the big names attending Trump's speech

Some of Trump's family and top allies on Capitol Hill appeared for tonight's speech at Mar-a-Lago.

Eric Trump, son of former US President Donald Trump, and his wife Lara Trump attend former US president Donald Trump's press conference following his court appearance over an alleged 'hush-money' payment, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on April 4, 2023.
Eric Trump and his wife, Lara Trump, at former President Donald Trump's address at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday.Chandan Khanna / AFP - Getty Images

In attendance were three of his adult children, Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Tiffany Trump, who were joined by their spouses. Also present were GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Matt Rosendale of Montana and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. Greene had also traveled to New York to protest on behalf of the former president.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., before former President Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate hours after being arraigned in New York City, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in Palm Beach, Fla.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., before former President Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday.Rebecca Blackwell / AP

Key campaign staffers were also seen arriving shortly after Trump's plane landed in Florida. Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO who promoted Trump's election fraud claims, was also present.

Notably, Trump’s wife, former first lady Melania Trump, was not at the speech.

Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago after indictment

Diana Paulsen

Diana Paulsen and Monica Dunn

Trump walked through a crowd of supporters at Mar-a-Lago tonight to chants of "USA, USA" and started speaking around 8:25 p.m.

Former President Donald Trump arrives to speak at his Mar-a-Lago estate hours after being arraigned in New York City, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Former President Donald Trump arrives to speak at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday.Rebecca Blackwell / AP

“I never thought anything like this could happen in America. Never thought it could happen,” Trump said in his opening remarks after thanking the audience. “The only crime I have committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it.”

Trump also reiterated debunked claims of election fraud and touched on themes of his 2024 re-election campaign, such as inflation and national security.


The scene at Mar-a-Lago as the crowd waits for Trump

The event is largely indistinguishable from a Trump campaign rally that would occur anywhere across the country, save for the 16 elaborate crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling of the grand ballroom at Mar-a-Lago.

Screens up at the front ask supporters to “text TRUMP to 88022” to donate. The campaign rally playlist is blasting. The more than 200 supporters here are in a good mood, sipping on bottles of Trump-branded water and snacking on various flavors of bagged chips.

Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, and Kari Lake, who unsuccessfully ran for Arizona governor last year, are a few of the early notable arrivals. They chanted “Kari won” as Lake walked up to the press riser for an interview with Right Side Broadcasting Network.

Trump's children, other supporters make an entrance

Some of the more recent arrivals ahead of Trump's speech: Donald Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle, Tiffany Trump and her husband, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and his wife and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.

Donald Trump Jr., center left, arrives with his fiance, Kimberly Guilfoyle, before former President Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate hours after being arraigned in New York City, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Donald Trump Jr., center left, arrives with his fiancée, Kimberly Guilfoyle, before former President Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday.Rebecca Blackwell / AP

Key campaign staffers are all here, as well. They were seen arriving shortly after Trump's plane landed.

Lara Trump shares family mood after indictment

Diana Paulsen

Lara Trump, who is married to Donald Trump’s son Eric, appeared on Fox News tonight to discuss her father-in-law's indictment.

Lara Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2023, Friday, March 3, 2023, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md.
Lara Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md., on March 3.Alex Brandon / AP file

Speaking with host Jesse Waters, she said that the Trump family is used to scrutiny and media attention but that the indictment "is different because these are real charges, and they are actually going to try to make them stick."

She added that she doesn't believe the charges will hold up in court.

Judge rules Trump will likely need to attend next hearing in person

Judge Juan Merchan ruled toward the end of today's hearing that Trump will probably need to attend pretrial hearings in person, even if his presence disrupts a large part of New York City.

Donald Trump makes his way inside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse in New York on April 4, 2023.
Donald Trump makes his way inside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse in New York on Tuesday.Ed Jones / AFP - Getty Images

Trump attorney Todd Blanche noted the "incredible expense and effort and security issues" involved with his client's attending court, and he said that next time, he may ask that Trump's presence be waived.

"All of lower Manhattan was shut down today," he told the judge.

Merchan didn't doubt the size of the undertaking for everyone involved and said he might revisit the question again, but he denied the request for now.

"I expect all other defendants to appear in court, even high-profile defendants," he said from the bench, according to the hearing transcript. He cited transparency and the evenhanded application of law.

Blanche also clarified that he was thinking only of the hassle for the city and the court.

"To be clear, I was not suggesting President Trump does not want to be here," he said.

The next pretrial hearing is scheduled for Dec. 4.

Trump supporters wave flags, cheer motorcade in Florida

Waving American flags as well as “Trump 2024” flags and ringing bells, Trump supporters lined a Florida road as the former president's motorcade made its way to Mar-a-Lago.

“We love you!” a woman yelled as the motorcade passed, video showed.

Trump returned to Florida after he was arraigned this afternoon in Manhattan on criminal charges of falsifying business records. He's scheduled to give a speech at Mar-a-Lago tonight.

Video posted to Instagram by Eric Trump showed his father waving to supporters.


Image: Former President Donald Trump departs in a motorcade from Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., on April 4, 2023.
Former President Donald Trump departs in a motorcade from Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday.Giorgio Viera / AFP - Getty Images
Image: Supporters of former President Donald Trump chant and wave flags during a rally to welcome him home on April 4, 2023, in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Supporters of Trump chant and wave flags during a rally to welcome him home on Tuesday in West Palm Beach, Fla.Wilfredo Lee / AP

NBC News

Intel officials watching for signs Russia, China are trying to exploit Trump indictment to widen U.S. political divide

Carol E. LeeCarol E. Lee is the Washington managing editor.

U.S. intelligence officials are watching for any influence campaigns from Russia or China aimed at amplifying existing political divisions or stoking unrest among Americans over Trump's indictment, two U.S. officials said.

Supporters and opponents of former President Donald Trump gather outside of the Manhattan Criminal Court during his arraignment on April 04, 2023 in New York City. Trump will be arraigned during his first court appearance today following an indictment by a grand jury that heard evidence about money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election. With the indictment, Trump becomes the first former U.S. president in history to be charged with a criminal offense.
Supporters and opponents of former President Donald Trump gather outside Manhattan Criminal Court during his arraignment in New York City on Tuesday.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Officials have been on alert since the indictment was confirmed last week and so far have not seen significant signs of Russian or Chinese interference in the country’s political discourse beyond the efforts that have become standard, the U.S. officials said.

But after Trump’s arraignment today, one of the officials said the intelligence community is watching “very closely” for any signs of such interference.

Intelligence officials are particularly looking for any Chinese or Russian efforts to stir up a response to Trump’s indictment and subsequent arraignment, such as protests, this official said. They are more concerned about Russia’s trying to stir the pot with disinformation, through social media or other outlets, the two officials said. Russia has shown a willingness and the capability to interfere in the U.S. political process, most notably in the 2016 presidential election, and China has increasingly sought to mirror those efforts.

Read the full story here.

Tacopina addresses conflict-of-interest concerns regarding Stormy Daniels

Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina responded to concerns raised by the district attorney's office about a potential conflict of interest regarding adult film star Stormy Daniels, according to a transcript of today's court hearing.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 04:  Former U.S. President Donald Trump sits with his attorneys Joe Tacopina and Boris Epshteyn inside the courtroom during his arraignment at the Manhattan Criminal Court April 4, 2023 in New York City. Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts stemming from hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election. With his indictment, Trump will become the first former U.S. president in history to be charged with a criminal offense.
Former President Donald Trump with his attorneys Joe Tacopina and Boris Epshteyn at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday.Andrew Kelly / Pool via Getty Images

"First and foremost, I never met Stormy Daniels. I never spoke to Stormy Daniels, and I never reviewed any documents of Stormy Daniels," Tacopina said in response to reports that he had had previous communications with Daniels.

Prosecutor Chris Conroy had asked the court to conduct an inquiry into any previous dealings with Daniels, saying Tacopina may have had “privileged communications” with Daniels, who is expected to be a witness.

Tacopina said that Daniels had called his office to inquire about hiring him and spoke with an associate and a paralegal but that after she provided some facts and sent over a document, "it went no further than that."

He said that his office refused the case and that he didn't speak or meet with Daniels.

Responding to Tacopina's comments, Conroy said prosecutors believed it was a potential concern, arguing that "there were some privileged conversations between them."

Judge Merchan said he would welcome a motion on the issue but said, "At this point, I’m not making any findings of fact."

Trump lands in Florida after arraignment

Trump's plane has landed at Palm Beach International Airport. He will return to Mar-a-Lago to address his supporters and the media.

When would Trump's case go to trial? Prosecutors and the defense are at odds

Manhattan prosecutors are pushing for a trial in January, a schedule that Trump's lawyers said at today's hearing was too aggressive.

Prosecutor Catherine McCaw said at the court hearing that the Manhattan district attorney's office would hand over to Trump's lawyers most of the material in its file in the next 65 days, leaving time to prepare for January.

"The People intend to request a trial date in January of 2024," she said, according to the hearing transcript.

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche responded that spring 2024 was a more realistic target.

"The people and certainly the President wants this behind him. But, to sit here and say January of 2024 is good with us when we have not seen a piece of paper yet, is I think patently unfair for us," he said.

Judge Juan Merchan said he understood Blanche's concern and didn't commit to a specific schedule.

"The message I would like to deliver is we would like to move ahead as expeditiously as possible, without undue delay," he said.

NBC News

Supporters wait to greet Trump at Palm Beach Airport

NBC News

Giorgio Viera / AFP - Getty Images
Giorgio Viera / AFP - Getty Images

In first posts after arraignment, Trump insists DA has 'no case'

Hours after he pleaded not guilty, Trump posted on his social media website that he was en route back to Mar-a-Lago.

"Just lifted off for Palm Beach, Florida," Trump wrote on Truth Social. "The hearing was shocking to many in that they had no 'surprises,' and therefore, no case. Virtually every legal pundit has said that there is no case here. There was nothing done illegally!"

In another post, Trump, who is scheduled to give a speech at 8:15 p.m., also made a variety of claims about the costs surrounding his case, appearing to suggest that a "totally legal" $130,000 payment paled in comparison to the cost of Bragg's probe.

Trump at courthouse was 'very quiet,' source says

Adam Reiss

David Ingram and Adam Reiss

From the moment the former president arrived at the courthouse, he was "very somber, no kidding around at all, very quiet and not his usual self," a source with direct knowledge of the situation said.

"He really seemed to be affected by what was going on," the source said.

Trump, who's not usually described as quiet, didn't try to approach the media at all, as television cameras caught only brief glimpses of his movements at the courthouse and outside.

Former Trump aides have been analyzing his state of mind for any sign that the indictment has had an impact, with one saying Trump has recently "been in good spirits."

‘Merry Arrestmas’: The ‘resistance’ rejoices watching Trump face charges

Biden may be staying quiet about his predecessor’s arraignment today, but the types of people who took to the streets in January 2017 to protest Trump are finally getting what they’ve desperately wanted: an arrest.

“After years of getting ‘lock her up’ yelled at us, I plan to spend the day the same way I assume my old boss and campaign buddies will — enjoying the freedom that generally comes with not committing crimes,” said Jess McIntosh, a Democratic strategist who worked on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016, when Trump supporters frequently called for her to be imprisoned.

Officially, the Democratic Party is taking on a subdued or even somber tone about Trump’s indictment. Biden and the White House have largely ignored it. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., one of Trump’s most famous antagonists, lamented Friday on MSNBC that the first indictment of an ex-president in U.S. history was a “tragic” but “necessary” step.

Neal Katyal, who was acting solicitor general during Barack Obama’s presidency, said: “Yes, we should celebrate the fact that America has a rule of law, but I’ve represented defendants going into this thing, and it’s horrific. There’s a human element here that shouldn’t be lost.”

Read the full story here.

DA Bragg has left courthouse for the day

Bragg was seen leaving the courthouse for the day at roughly 5:15 p.m. ET. In a video of his departure, he can be seen getting into a black vehicle flanked by his security detail.

Gov. Kristi Noem tweets support for Trump

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, tweeted her support for Trump after the indictment was unsealed, saying the prosecution was political.

The tweet singled out Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

"He should focus on his job: keeping people safe," she wrote. "He needs to get his priorities straight."

Noem is considered a potential GOP presidential candidate, although she hasn't jumped into the race yet.

McCarthy attacks Bragg, promises congressional response

Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., pledged that the Republican-controlled House would investigate Bragg's handling of the Trump case.

"Bragg's weaponization of the federal justice process will be held accountable by Congress," McCarthy tweeted.

His promise echoes inquiries and statements from other Republicans. Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., tweeted that Bragg would not be allowed to ignore a congressional subpoena, and she denounced the case as a "communist assault on our democracy."

Harris ignores questions about indictment

Caroline Kenny

Caroline Kenny and Zoë Richards

Vice President Harris ignored questions about Trump's indictment this afternoon after she delivered introductory remarks at a promotion ceremony for Jacob Middleton, a U.S. Space Force officer.

Bragg says fresh evidence affected his decision to pursue case against Trump

Bragg told reporters at a news conference today that new evidence had prompted him to pursue charges against Trump after he previously expressed reservations about the case.

"I had been in office for a couple of months," Bragg said when he was asked about his earlier hesitation. "The investigation in my view was not concluded into the conduct, in particular, that is the basis for the charges today. Since that time, we've had more evidence made available to the office and opportunity to meet with additional witnesses."

Asked about his pursuit of the case after federal prosecutors turned it down, Bragg said New York state, which he called the business capital of the world, had an "independent interest" in maintaining the integrity of record-keeping.

"We regularly do cases involving false business statements," Bragg said. "The basis for business integrity and a well-functioning business marketplace is true and accurate record-keeping. That's the charge at fault here — falsifying New York state business records."

Bragg had said that the case resembled the "bread and butter" of his office's white-collar work involving tax violations.

"At its core, this case today is one with allegations like so many of our white-collar cases: allegations that someone lied again and again to protect their interests and evade the laws to which we are all held accountable," Bragg had said. "We today uphold our solemn responsibility to ensure that everyone stands equal before the law. No amount of money and no amount of power changes that enduring American principle."

Mar-a-Lago gets ready for Trump's speech

Hours before Trump’s return, preparations for his speech were being made in a capacious gold-and-cream-colored ballroom with paneled-mirror walls and 16 chandeliers.

Organizers had set up 400 to 500 gold-painted metal chairs with cushioned seats for guests and parted them in a way that would allow for significant standing room.

Romney accuses Bragg of pursuing 'a political agenda,' even if Trump is 'unfit'

Frank Thorp Vproducer and off-air reporter

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, a frequent Trump critic, said after the arraignment that while he believes Trump's "character and conduct make him unfit for office," he also thinks Bragg "has stretched to reach felony criminal charges in order to fit a political agenda."

"No one is above the law, not even former presidents," Romney said, echoing statements many Democrats have made, "but everyone is entitled to equal treatment under the law. The prosecutor’s overreach sets a dangerous precedent for criminalizing political opponents and damages the public’s faith in our justice system."

Romney, the only senator to vote to convict Trump during his first impeachment trial, said voters "will ultimately render their own judgment on the former president’s political future," and he urged elected leaders "to discourage violence and anger in response to this situation."

Trump says his campaign has raised over $10M since indictment

Trump sent a fundraising email shortly after his arraignment, saying that since the news of his indictment broke, his campaign has raised over $10 million.

NBC News cannot independently verify the claim because candidates are not required to file Federal Election Commission data immediately; receipts are usually filed quarterly.

"As I fly back home to Mar-a-Lago ... I have never been more certain that we will win back the White House and save our Great Nation," Trump wrote.

New York Democrats denounce 'MAGA extremists' after Trump's arrest

Several New York Democratic lawmakers said today they feared Trump supporters would try to intimidate Manhattan prosecutors, including through violence.

Rep. Gregory Meeks tweeted that "MAGA extremists are in New York to provoke chaos and violence. It's unacceptable."

Rep. Grace Meng urged in a statement that any demonstrations, from both sides, be peaceful and without violence.

And Rep. Jerry Nadler in a statement accused "MAGA Republicans" in Congress of trying to obstruct the legal process in Trump's case.

Most of Trump's supporters who gathered at a park near the courthouse today dispersed after Trump left the area.

Two anti-Trump billboards from MoveOn put up in West Palm Beach

Two billboards were put up in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday, just outside Palm Beach International Airport.

One reads, “TRUMP IS NOT ABOVE THE LAW.” The other reads, “I HATE HIM PASSIONATELY,” with a photo of Tucker Carlson next to it, referring to a text by Carlson about Trump that was made public in the Dominion lawsuit.

Trump’s motorcade is expected to pass by one of the billboards as it travels down Southern Boulevard toward Mar-a-Lago.

They’re paid for by MoveOn, the progressive advocacy group. They will be up for the next 30 days.

What's in the prosecutors' statement of facts: Case involves 3 hush money payments

The statement of facts prosecutors compiled in conjunction with the indictment said 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.”

The statement of facts included information about hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, Playboy model Karen McDougal and a former Trump Tower doorman who’d claimed to have a story about a child Trump had out of wedlock.

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000, while McDougal and the doorman were paid $150,000 and $30,000 respectively by AMI, the publisher of the National Enquirer, according to the statement.

No mug shot taken of Trump

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad

Trump did not have his mug shot taken when he was arrested and processed ahead of his arraignment, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Trump heads back to Palm Beach

Trump's plane took off from LaGuardia Airport around 4:20 p.m. ET. The former president is en route back to Palm Beach, Florida, where he will make remarks this evening from his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Bragg details counts against Trump, says we 'will not normalize serious criminal conduct'

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg detailed the 34 counts against Trump at a news conference this afternoon, saying he violated New York state law, which makes it a felony to falsify business records with intent to defraud and intent to conceal another crime.

"No matter who you are, we cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct," Bragg said.

Trump and others made three payments to keep quiet people who claimed to have negative information about Trump, one of them to the adult film actor Stormy Daniels, Bragg said.

"The participants' scheme was illegal. The scheme violated New York election law, which makes it a crime to conspire to promote a candidacy by unlawful means," he said. Rather than list the payment as a reimbursement to Michael Cohen for paying Daniels, Trump has claimed he was paying Cohen for what Bragg called "fictitious legal services."

'The catch and kill scheme'

A statement of facts — a separate document released alongside the indictment — offers an overview of what prosecutors called "the catch and kill scheme" at the center of the case against the former president.

Trump, from August 2015 to December 2017, "orchestrated a scheme with others to influence the 2016 presidential election" by purchasing negative information about him, the statement of facts reads.

It says the scheme involved a $30,000 payoff to a doorman who was trying to sell information about a child that Trump allegedly fathered out of wedlock, $150,000 to "Woman 1" (former Playboy model Karen McDougal) who alleged an affair with Trump and a $130,000 payment to "Woman 2" (Stormy Daniels) over the rights to her story.

Trump boards plane heading to Mar-a-Lago after arraignment

Trump plans to give a speech in Florida tonight.

Why the judge didn't impose a gag order

Judge Merchan said he didn't impose a gag order for at least two reasons: None of the parties had asked for one, and such an order would be the most serious and restrictive option — doubly so for a political candidate.

But he didn't rule out one in the future. Merchan said at Tuesday's hearing that Trump and potential witnesses should refrain from statements that might incite violence or unrest and avoid words or conduct that undermine the rule of law. Merchan said that if he saw such posts in the future, he'd have to take a closer look.

Merchan is a veteran jurist with a reputation for being stern yet compassionate, lawyers who know him have said.

Former President Donald Trump appears in court for his arraignment on April 4, 2023, in New York.
Former President Donald Trump appears in court for his arraignment in New York on Tuesday.Christine Cornell

Trump not charged with conspiracy

+2

Daniel Barnesis reporting from the federal courthouse.

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Ken Dilanian, Daniel Barnes and Rebecca Shabad

Trump has been charged with 34 felony counts of falsification of business records in the first degree, according to the unsealed indictment.

Trump has not been charged with conspiracy. The indictment does not say exactly what crime Bragg alleges as the secondary offense being covered up — what elevated the business records crimes to felonies. Rather, the statement of facts that accompanies the indictment says the falsification was intended "to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election."

The indictment details two hush money payments made to women who alleged having affairs with Trump, reciting facts that have long been known. It also cites a third payment to a doorman who supposedly was claiming that Trump fathered a child with a housekeeper. It alleges that the scheme to conceal the payments was illegal, but it does not name the statutes the scheme violated.

The indictment alleges a criminal scheme to hide crucial information from the voters. But the only charges are falsification of business records.

There are counts for each of the three types of false entries for 11 payments that were made on or around each of: 2/14/17, 3/17/17, 4/13/17, 5/23/17, 6/19/17, 7/11/17, 8/1/17, 9/11/17, 10/18/17, 11/20/17 and 12/1/17.

The statement of facts describes the larger case, including the so-called catch-and-kill scheme and the Karen McDougal payment. However, the actual charges appear to concern only those records intended to hide the payments to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen for the Stormy Daniels settlement.

Trump supporters fan out following his departure

Trump supporters slowly dispersed after he left downtown Manhattan. While most of his backers, assembled at a park across the street from the courthouse, were gone within 30 minutes of Trump’s motorcade’s leaving, a small but loud contingent continued to hold court. In addition, there was a noticeable downsize in the police presence by 4 p.m. ET, while throngs of reporters were still on hand.

Trump supporters hold flags outside New York Criminal Court following former President Donald Trump’s arraignment on 34 counts on April 4, 2023.
Trump supporters hold flags outside New York Criminal Court after former President Donald Trump’s arraignment on 34 counts Tuesday.Julius Constantine Motal / NBC News

Trump's next hearing set for Dec. 4

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Adam Reiss

Rose Horowitch

Adam Reiss, Garrett Haake and Rose Horowitch

Judge Juan Merchan said the next hearing in Trump's case will be Dec. 4. 

Trump's lawyer Todd Blanche asked today that Trump not be required to attend that hearing in person, but Merchan rejected the request.

In court, Trump showed no discernible emotion

Gabe Gutierrez

Gabe Gutierrez and Garrett Haake

Trump did, however, noticeably sigh when the judge warned he could be removed if he were disruptive.

Trump sighed, and said, "I know."

During quieter parts of the hearing, cheering and noise from the demonstrations below were audible in the courtroom.

GOP goes on post-arraignment offense

Liz Brown-Kaiser

Rose Horowitch

Liz Brown-Kaiser and Rose Horowitch

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., the House majority whip, called Trump's arraignment "a historic low" for the country.

In a tweet, Emmer accused Democrats of targeting a political opponent to remain in power.

Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., said the indictment would only lead to "further division in the country."

“For those who think this will harm President Trump’s chances at running for the White House in 2024, I have news for you: it won’t,” Hern added.

Biden declines to weigh in

at a pre-scheduled meeting with his Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, President Joe Biden declined to answer reporters’ questions about Trump’s appearance in court today. Asked whether Trump’s indictment is “politically divisive,” Biden smiled but didn’t offer a comment, according to a journalist in the room.

Biden did respond to a question about artificial intelligence, a major topic of discussion at the event, and the potential dangers the technology can pose for people, society at large and national security.

“Remains to be seen,” he said about whether AI could be dangerous. “It could be.” 

Trump's lawyers answer questions after arraignment

Lawyers for Trump briefly answered questions outside the courthouse after the president's arraignment, at times exchanging barbs with reporters.

The lawyers sought to downplay the state's case.

"I was surprised there were no facts in there," said Joe Tacopina, one of Trump's lawyers. "Normally in an indictment you'd have alleged facts."

No gag order for Trump, but judge asks those involved in the case to 'refrain' from statements that would incite violence

Judge Juan Merchan said he would not issue a gag order to prevent Trump or his attorneys from speaking publicly about the case.

That means Trump can continue to use his platform to say whatever he likes about the case and District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whom Trump called an "animal" in a post on his social media platform, Truth Social.

Donald Trump leaves the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York  on April 4, 2023.
Donald Trump leaves Manhattan Criminal Court.Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP - Getty Images

That could be an issue for Trump, however, as any threat against Bragg could cause further legal issues under New York law. Trump deleted an earlier post that carried an image of him holding a baseball bat next to Bragg's head.

Merchan did say: "Please refrain from making statements that would incite violence or civil unrest."

Prosecutor Chris Conroy said in court that over the past few weeks, there had been "irresponsible social media posts," and he cited the baseball post and one in which Trump warned of "death and destruction" if he were to be indicted.

Trump indictment full text: Read the court document here

The indictment against former President Donald Trump, unsealed Tuesday, details 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to his alleged role in hush money payments during his 2016 presidential campaign. The payments went to two women who have alleged affairs with the former president, which he denies. Trump pleaded not guilty.

Read the full charging document here.

Trump leaves courthouse; motorcade rolling

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Trump left the courthouse just before 3:30 p.m. ET, and his motorcade started rolling away from lower Manhattan.

Prosecutor accuses Trump of 'threatening' posts and statements

Adam Reiss

Rose Horowitch

Adam Reiss and Rose Horowitch

The prosecutor at today's arraignment raised concerns about the effect Trump's "threatening" social media posts might have on jurors and witnesses.

In the lead-up to his arrest, Trump warned of "potential death and destruction" on his Truth Social site and posted a fake image that showed him appearing to swing a baseball bat toward Bragg.

Bragg is "very concerned" about the posts and their potential effects on jurors and witnesses. Prosecutors are seeking a protective order to protect witnesses.

Trump exits courtroom, ignores questions from reporters

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Trump left the courtroom at 3:25 p.m. ET and entered another room, ignoring questions again from reporters who were stationed farther down the hall.

A reporter yelled, "President Trump, how did you plead?" He ignored the question.

Trump entered not guilty plea himself

Adam Reiss

Rose Horowitch

Adam Reiss and Rose Horowitch

Trump himself made the not guilty plea at today's arraignment.

One of his attorneys, Todd Blanche, whom Trump brought on to his legal team yesterday, spoke for the defense.

Lawmakers in both parties begin fundraising off Trump indictment

Frank Thorp Vproducer and off-air reporter

Moments after the news broke that Trump had pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records, lawmakers from both parties began fundraising off the news.

"Though these charges are indeed serious, we know that they’re not the only crimes that Trump has committed. That’s why Barbara Lee is also suing Donald Trump to hold him accountable for his actions on Jan. 6 — because no one, not even a former president, is above the law," the campaign for Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., who is running for the Senate, emailed supporters.

The political outfit for Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wrote in an email to its supporters list: "Now that President Donald Trump has been arraigned, I keep thinking how shocking it is that this weaponization of the rule of law is actually taking place in the United States."

Both emails included fundraising solicitations, Lee's for her Senate campaign and Graham's for donations that would be split equally between his political organization and Trump's.

Palm Beach ramps up security ahead of Trump's return

Rose Horowitch

Gary Grumbach and Rose Horowitch

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is installing bike racks along part of the road that leads to Mar-a-Lago ahead of Trump's return from New York.

Trump is expected to deliver remarks at Mar-a-Lago, his resort, at 8:15 tonight. Police had not set up the security measures when Trump left for New York yesterday. Then, a modest crowd of pro-Trump protesters assembled to cheer as his motorcade drove by.

Trump was fingerprinted

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Before his arraignment before Judge Juan Merchan, Trump was fingerprinted and processed inside the courthouse.

First photos released of Trump in courtroom for arraignment