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.
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.
Timeline of Trump's travels from Mar-a-Lago to New York and backApril 5, 202303:00
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.
"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.
Trump calls out Manhattan DA and judge after indictmentApril 5, 202302:54
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.”
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.
After indictment, Trump defends Georgia call, also under investigationApril 5, 202301:12
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.
“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.
What could Trump’s arraignment mean for his political future?April 4, 202302:14
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.
Trump: ‘I never thought anything like this could happen in America'
Trump: ‘I never thought anything like this could happen in America’April 5, 202302:25
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.
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
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'
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
“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.
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
Lara Trump, who is married to Donald Trump’s son Eric, appeared on Fox News tonight to discuss her father-in-law's indictment.
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.
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.
What happens next after Trump’s arraignment?April 4, 202301:44
Intel officials watching for signs Russia, China are trying to exploit Trump indictment to widen U.S. political divide
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.
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.
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.
"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.
Former Manhattan ADA: David Pecker will be 'star witness' in Trump caseApril 4, 202301:19
Supporters wait to greet Trump at Palm Beach Airport
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
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.”
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
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'
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
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."
Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg discusses charges against TrumpApril 4, 202306:16
'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.
Trump boards plane heading to Mar-a-Lago after arraignmentApril 4, 202302:39
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.
Trump not charged with conspiracy
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's next hearing set for Dec. 4
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
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
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 16-page indictment unsealedApril 4, 202303:41
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."
Trump's lawyers say he's 'frustrated' with chargesApril 4, 202304:18
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.
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.
Trump leaves courthouse; motorcade rolling
Trump left the courthouse just before 3:30 p.m. ET, and his motorcade started rolling away from lower Manhattan.
Trump leaves courthouse after pleading not guilty to felony chargesApril 4, 202301:49
Prosecutor accuses Trump of 'threatening' posts and statements
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
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.
Courtroom reporter describes Trump's demeanor during arraignmentApril 4, 202304:15
Trump entered not guilty plea himself
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
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
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
Before his arraignment before Judge Juan Merchan, Trump was fingerprinted and processed inside the courthouse.
First photos released of Trump in courtroom for arraignment
First photos released of Trump in courtroom for arraignmentApril 4, 202302:14
Former Trump aides analyze his state of mind as he is charged
An aide who has broken with Trump said getting arraigned "must be a jarring and surreal moment for him.” The aide described this moment as the least amount of control Trump has had over a situation and his physical circumstances in many years. “I have to imagine the weight of this moment is hitting him,” the aide said.
Another former aide still close to Trump says he has "been in good spirits,” but “the next couple days will hurt.” The aide noted that the 2024 conversation now centers on Trump, that his potential rivals are constantly being asked about him and that even Republicans who don’t like him, like former Attorney General William Barr, are questioning the district attorney's case. And the aide likened this indictment to many of the lawsuits Trump has faced “and somehow beaten.”
Former Trump aide says 'the next couple days will hurt' for himApril 4, 202302:29
Trump pleads not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records
Trump pleaded not guilty in a packed Manhattan courtroom today to dozens of counts of falsifying business records for his alleged role in hush money payments to two women toward the end of his 2016 presidential campaign.
The indictment — the first against a former president — was unsealed in a brief proceeding before Judge Juan Merchan.
Trump pleads not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business recordsApril 4, 202301:08
Trump inside the courthouse
Trump's arraignment has begun
The former president's arraignment has started. Cameras aren’t allowed at today’s court proceedings because of the judge’s order banning them.
The Manhattan DA's office announced that the district attorney will hold a news conference after the arraignment.
Trump ignores reporter's question as he heads into courtroom
Trump emerged from behind closed doors and briefly appeared before cameras as he walked into the courtroom. He ignored a question from a reporter who yelled, "President Trump, do you want to speak to us?"
Trump enters courtroom for arraignmentApril 4, 202301:20
GOP congressman calls prosecutor 'fat'
Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, the White House physician in the Obama and Trump administrations, mocked Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg's weight on Twitter and said he hopes to question Bragg, referring to House Republicans' effort to force him to testify before Congress.
“Hey FAT ALVIN, go ahead and celebrate with another jelly donut, but get ready to answer some serious questions from Congress!" Jackson tweeted.
Jackson is not a member of the Oversight or Weaponization committees, which have led the requests for Bragg to testify.
White House shrugs off Trump questions at briefing
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre fielded questions about Trump’s arraignment Tuesday, saying that while President Biden may see some of the day’s news coverage, “this is not his focus today.”
Jean-Pierre said the White House will continue not to comment specifically on Trump’s criminal case, but she said “we are prepared” when it comes to security preparations for potential protests.
Asked why Biden, who repeatedly warned about threats to democracy after Jan. 6, isn’t speaking out now as Trump and his Republican allies attack the U.S. justice system, she said that was a “different moment” and noted that “people died.”
Trump raises money with fake mug shot T-shirt
While Trump was awaiting his arraignment Tuesday, his presidential campaign blasted out a fundraising email selling a T-shirt featuring a fake mug shot.
The T-shirt shows a photo of Trump's face superimposed over a height chart as if it were a mug shot and says, "Not Guilty."
The email asked supporters whether they stand with Trump and asked for a contribution of at least $47 to his 2024 campaign in order to get a "free" T-shirt.
Trump is not expected to have a real mug shot taken Tuesday.
The photo showed that Trump is 6-foot-5. His previous physical exams as president reported that he's 6-foot-3.
Schumer says 'all protests must be peaceful'
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader and the senior senator from New York, said in a statement Tuesday: “I believe that Donald Trump will have a fair trial that follows the facts and the law. There’s no place in our justice system for any outside influence or intimidation in the legal process. As the trial proceeds, protest is an American right, but all protests must be peaceful.”
Manhattan DA is in the courtroom
Manhattan DA Bragg is in the courtroom for Trump's arraignment.
Demonstrators rally outside the courthouse
Trump gets support from freshly convicted Jan. 6 defendant
Ed Badalian, a Jan. 6 defendant convicted on felony charges earlier Tuesday, said he hasn't heard from the Trump team about his case.
Badalian, who hoped that Biden and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be arrested on Jan. 6, said he still believes that citizens have the right to arrest politicians if they believe they are committing a crime.
"Just like what's happening now with Trump, they're alleging that he committed a crime, and even though he's the front-runner to become the presidential candidate, they're still going after him," Badalian told NBC News. "It doesn't matter that he's loved or chosen by the people for an election. It's did he commit a crime or not. That's the standard."
The images of Trump getting arrested today are striking thinking back to his favorite anti-Hillary Clinton chant from the 2016 race: "Lock her up!"
The idea that Clinton was corrupt and used a private email server was central to his campaign. "Hillary for prison" merchandise was everywhere.
Clinton herself has notably not made this point. The only thing she has tweeted today is that it is Election Day in the Wisconsin state Supreme Court race.
Trump's pattern of attacking judges and prosecutors
While Trump is attacking the prosecutor filing the charges against him today, along with the judge who is set to oversee his trial, we have a hard time thinking of a moment in recent history when Trump has not attacked and tried to undercut the credibility of investigators, prosecutors or the judges involved in matters related to him.
He has also, of course, knocked the courts and justice systems at large since he rose to political power.
What happens now that Trump's arrested?
Now that Trump has surrendered, he will be processed in Manhattan Criminal Court and is expected to have his fingerprints taken, said a source with direct knowledge of the situation.
Staff members will not take DNA samples, and it's unlikely that they will take a mug shot of Trump. He'll then be brought to the courtroom on the 15th floor.
After today's arraignment, the legal fight could stretch on for months or longer. Within the next 15 days, the prosecution must turn over evidence to the defense for the discovery phase. Trump's legal team is expected to file motions to fight the case. Only after those issues are resolved could the case go to trial.
Trump campaign adviser tweets photo of motorcade en route to court
Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller tweeted a photo of Trump's motorcade departing Trump Tower on its way to the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse.
Trump arrived at the courthouse minutes ago.
Chuck Todd: Indictment could be only 'short-term' political gain for Trump
NBC News political director and "Meet the Press" moderator Chuck Todd said Tuesday that while Trump's indictment could give him a "short-term" political gain as Republicans rally around him, he "has a way of wearing out his welcome."
“Who voted for him in '16, didn’t vote for him in '20, is suddenly looking at all of this and thinking ... ‘Maybe I will go back to supporting him’?” Todd asked during NBC News' special coverage of the indictment Tuesday.
Trump's motorcade turns around to be ready to depart post-arraignment
Trump's SUVs have all done three-point turns and are facing southeast so they're ready to make a fast departure once Trump is done.
Texas congressman says America is in 'uncharted waters'
Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, lamented that "equal justice under the law died today" in reference to Trump's arraignment. "Our country will never be the same again," he wrote on Twitter.
He then called on Americans to "Pray for President Trump" and the country.
I’m struck by the former president describing this moment as “surreal” — given the historic nature of the day, I’d bet even some of his political opponents might agree. One of his aides is tweeting a photo from inside the motorcade on the way to his arraignment, and his campaign in general is looking to make political lemonade in the face of this legal trouble. They’re going on offense, with a lot of support from Trump’s Republican rivals, but a few in the party have raised questions of how much of that is bravado.
White House daily news conference begins as Trump heads into court
President Biden's White House has sought to keep the charges facing his 2020 opponent and possible 2024 opponent, former President Donald Trump, at arm's length.
One clear example: The White House just began its regular daily news briefing moments after Trump walked into a Manhattan courthouse.
'Welcome to NYC!': AOC mocks MTG getting drowned out at Trump protest
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., shared an NBC reporter's tweet about Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., being drowned out by protesters outside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse.
"Welcome to NYC!" she wrote. "Where there are still social consequences for shameless bigotry."
The tweet has garnered over 17,000 likes so far.
The tensest scenes are playing out in New York, but voters in Washington are closely watching how the Manhattan district attorney’s case plays out.
Dennis Hobb, a Democrat who spoke with NBC News while walking across the National Mall late last week, said he was “ecstatic” when he heard that former President Trump had been indicted. “It’s high time he got indicted for something,” Hobb said.
Meanwhile, Gerald Glandon, a lifelong Republican who became an independent during the Trump era, said he believes that Trump has done a “whole series of things that are, if not illegal, certainly ethically questionable” and that there should be “accountability” if Trump broke the law.
Trump posts about 'SURREAL' trip to courthouse
As Trump's motorcade headed to the courthouse for his arraignment, the former president was still posting on social media.
"Heading to Lower Manhattan, the Courthouse. Seems so SURREAL — WOW, they are going to ARREST ME," Trump wrote in a Truth Social post. "Can’t believe this is happening in America. MAGA!"
Trump walks into the courthouse
The former president has surrendered to authorities in Manhattan. He is expected to be fingerprinted before his arraignment in court before the judge.
Trump arrives at courthouse for processing ahead of arraignmentApril 4, 202300:55
Trump arrives at courthouse
Trump has arrived at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse ahead of his arraignment at 2:15 p.m. ET this afternoon.
When Trump arrives at the courthouse, every step he takes inside and outside has been carefully mapped out by the Secret Service.
Agents did a walk-through of the courthouse Friday to outline his route in and out, according to a Secret Service official. As part of the plan, agents plan to be seated in some of the aisle seats in the courtroom, while other aisle seats could be left empty to create a bit of a buffer as Trump enters and exits. And if the Secret Service has its way, there will be a major effort to keep Trump out of the view of people outside.
As a former president, Trump has a significantly smaller Secret Service detail than a sitting president. But for this moment, he will have far more agents — dozens and dozens — involved in his movements.
Fact check: This is not what New York City traffic usually looks like
Just for everyone watching Trump make his way to the courthouse — this is not what New York City traffic usually looks like.
The former president's motorcade is enjoying clear streets as he makes his way downtown. That's far from the norm, although at this time of day, traffic is also flowing freely in the other direction.
'Trump is not above the law,' protesters chant before his arrival
Full-throated demonstrators prepared for Trump’s arrival.
A Marine-style chant of “No one is above the law; Trump is not above the law” rang out from the crowd a block from the courthouse at Centre and Worth streets.
GOP Sen. Tim Scott blasts 'travesty' ahead of Trump court appearance
Shortly before Trump left for the Manhattan courthouse, a possible 2024 presidential rival, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., criticized the episode.
"This political charade is a travesty," Scott tweeted, criticizing Manhattan DA Bragg as someone who "weaponizes the law against his political enemies."
"This jeopardizes Americans' trust in our legal system, faith in our leaders, and sends us down a road of further abuse of political power," he added.
Scott continues to weigh a presidential bid of his own and is set to travel to key early presidential nominating states this month.
Trump’s defense attorneys will undoubtedly push for a change of venue because Manhattan is so heavily Democratic. (Trump himself posted on social media about moving the case to red-tinted Staten Island on Tuesday morning.) But former prosecutors say they have tried many cases in tough locations — like 9/11 suspects tried in Alexandria, Virginia, near where the Pentagon was attacked — and juries have proved able to follow the law and be fair no matter their personal opinions.
Trump loses effort to stop several top aides from testifying before a federal grand jury
In other Trump news, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C., denied an emergency motion by Trump’s legal team yesterday that sought to stop several of his top aides, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, from testifying before a grand jury hearing evidence in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation of the events leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.
The proceeding is sealed, and court documents haven’t been made public. The denial of the emergency motion was posted on a docket that NBC News previously confirmed is related to the appeal of an order requiring Meadows and other Trump aides to testify.
It is unclear whether Trump will appeal the denial of the motion to either the full circuit court or the Supreme Court.
Trump is en route to courthouse
Trump has left Trump Tower and is on his way to the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse for his arraignment.
The hearing is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. ET. Trump's three attorneys are expected to be at the arraignment.
Trump heads to New York courthouse for arraignmentApril 4, 202303:46
John Kasich: 'No way' Trump will be president again
Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, said Tuesday on MSNBC that the Manhattan charges may or may not help Trump in the GOP primary, but he predicted Trump will never be elected president again.
“There’s no way the guy’s gonna be president,” Kasich said. “Because there’s no way these independent voters and Republicans who are sort of normal people, traditional Republicans ... there’s no way in a million years that those people are going to vote for him.”
Sen. Rubio: 'We are going to regret this day, whether you like Trump or not'
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said he thinks Trump’s arraignment is a “bad day for all of us” in a video on Twitter.
“Today, American politics crosses a line that it’s never going to come back from,” he said, adding that he finds the charges, which have not been made public, “ridiculous.”
“After today, every prosecutor in America that wants to make a name for themselves now is going to have permission to basically go after someone in the other party,” he added.
Rubio argued that Trump’s arraignment sets a “new normal” and is “poison” for the U.S. “It will permanently change politics in America forever. We are going to regret this day, whether you like Trump or not.”
What to look for when indictment against Trump is unsealedApril 4, 202303:18
As big a moment as the arraignment of a former president is, it’s also a reminder that there are three other criminal investigations examining Trump’s conduct — all of them with the potential to result in charges that are far more serious than the ones expected today in New York.
A special grand jury in Georgia spent a year investigating election interference by Trump and his allies and recommended indictments for multiple people on a variety of charges. In Washington, Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith is investigating some of the same conduct, while also pursuing a separate investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice or otherwise violated federal law in connection with the highly classified documents found in an FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago compound.
There is no way to know whether those cases will lead to Trump's being charged, but they appear to pose serious legal threats. If the New York case plays out as expected, the most serious charge carries a four-year prison sentence. But former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance told NBC News this week that prison was an unlikely outcome in that case if Trump is tried and convicted. The potential crimes being examined in Georgia and Washington carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison.
Pro-Trump protesters appear to outnumber the anti-Trump crowd
Trump supporters and his detractors are separated by a metal barrier, but they can go in and out of the dueling rallies as they please. The pro-Trump rally appeared to outnumber the anti-Trump protest by about 2-to-1.
Ricardo Varona, 62, of the Bronx, chanted "Trump not guilty" and entertained folks by spinning two basketballs on his finger and on top of a miniature American flag. He said earlier in the day he wandered into the anti-Trump crowd and had some spirited debates.
"They asked what am I doing over here. I said, 'Listen, he's the greatest.' I can go anywhere. Trump goes anywhere. I'm with him all the way."
Peter Lloyd, 37, of Garfield, New Jersey, spoke from the anti-Trump side of the barriers.
"I'm firmly against Trump," he said. "He's detrimental to the country."
Asked what his message is to Trump fanatics, he said: "They're supporting a politician who does not care about them. They're moving toward their own downfall out of ignorance and spite."
Trump lawyer says legal team might request brief recess if indictment is provided in court
Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina told NBC News that if the Manhattan district attorney's office provides Trump's legal team with a copy of the indictment when Trump appears in the courtroom, it might request a brief recess to review the document.
A back room off the courtroom can be made available if such a request is made, a senior security official said.
Senior security officials also said that the courthouse's upper floors are being cleared of all operations and hearings and that they will do a security sweep before they let members of the media or ticketholders into the building.
The dueling, animated protest scenes playing out in New York today are a reminder that the way Americans view Trump’s legal problems is deeply tied to their political views and party affiliations.
In large part, Republicans view the Manhattan case, as well as Trump’s other legal problems, as evidence of a large-scale "deep state" conspiracy to stop Trump from running and to go after conservatives as a whole. It’s also important to remember that Trump remains immensely popular, with a whopping 72% of GOP voters saying he has had a mainly positive impact on the Republican Party, versus 21% who say he’s had a negative impact, according to a recently released Quinnipiac University poll.
Meanwhile, Democrats see the indictment and the investigations as evidence that no American is above the law. Still, Democratic voters also told me late last week that they are worried that Bragg's case might not end in a conviction and could end up helping Trump.
That having been said, 62% of Americans overall said Bragg's case was mainly motivated by politics, according to another Quinnipiac University poll. The beliefs do vary starkly when you look at political affiliation: 93% of GOP voters and 70% of independent voters say the Manhattan case is motivated mainly by politics. Among Democrats, 66% said they think the case is motivated mainly by the law.
Who is the judge presiding over Trump’s N.Y. criminal case?April 4, 202302:23
All's quiet at the U.S. Capitol as chaos breaks out in N.Y.
In a split-screen moment contrasting the chaotic scene outside the Manhattan courthouse where Trump is set to be arraigned, all is quiet on the U.S. Capitol front. The Senate and the House left last week for a two-week recess and are set to return on April 17.
Despite the recess, the Senate sergeant at arms and U.S. Capitol Police released a notice last week saying they anticipate “demonstration activity across the country” related to Trump’s indictment.
“While law enforcement is not tracking any specific, credible threats against the Capitol or state offices, there is potential for demonstration activity,” the notice said. “USCP is working with law enforcement partners, so you may observe a greater law enforcement presence on Capitol Hill. The SAA and USCP are monitoring the potential nationwide impacts to Senate state offices.”