'Teflon Don': Trump in New York to face historic criminal charges; What's expected?

The return to New York opened an unprecedented chapter in American history, with Trump the first former president to face criminal charges.
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower, Monday, April 3, 2023, in New York. (Photo | AP)
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower, Monday, April 3, 2023, in New York. (Photo | AP)

NEW YORK: Donald Trump will make an unprecedented appearance before a New York judge Tuesday to answer criminal charges that threaten to throw the 2024 White House race into turmoil.

Trump is the first sitting or former American president to be criminally indicted -- a historic development that has propelled the United States into uncharted political waters.

Amid tight security in Manhattan -- and a global media frenzy -- the 76-year-old will learn at his arraignment precisely what charges he faces over hush money paid to a porn star ahead of the 2016 election that brought him to power. The twice-impeached Republican claims he is the victim of "political persecution" -- but is also using the case to energize his support base and raise millions of dollars for his bid to reclaim the White House next year.

Upon arrival at New York's LaGuardia airport, Trump stepped off his jet alone and directly into a waiting black SUV, with no one greeting him. Only small, sparse groups of supporters lined the route as his motorcade used a police escort to whisk him into Manhattan. From the air, the procession conjured images of a current president on the move rather than a former one facing criminal charges. In New York, he was meeting with his attorneys, then spending the night at Trump Tower before surrendering to authorities at the courthouse.

The return to New York opened an unprecedented chapter in American history, with Trump the first former president to face criminal charges. He’s betting it could actually boost his chances at winning the presidency again next year and his team has boasted of raising USD 8 million since word of the indictment broke last week.

But even as Trump aims to find a political advantage, there appeared to be some limits to the publicity he's seeking. In a Monday filing, Trump's lawyers asked the judge overseeing the case to ban photo and video coverage of his arraignment.

Trump is expected to leave his skyscraper on Fifth Avenue late morning to make the six-mile journey to the Manhattan court complex where he will surrender to authorities.

Thousands of police, and unknown numbers of Trump supporters and detractors, will be on the streets for the journey that will be carried live on US networks -- although a judge ruled Monday night that video cameras would not be allowed inside the courtroom, US media reported.

Trump is likely to undergo the standard booking procedure of being fingerprinted -- and potentially photographed, which would result in an all-time famous mug shot. But there is no precedent for a former president's surrender to court authorities and it remains to be seen whether the famously unpredictable Trump will follow procedure.

A "perp walk" -- in which a defendant is escorted in handcuffs past media cameras -- is unlikely for an ex-president under US Secret Service protection.

What is certain is that Trump's lawyers have said their client will plead not guilty to all charges during the court hearing, scheduled to start at 2:15 pm (1815 GMT). About 30 counts, including at least one felony, are expected to be unsealed during the arraignment, which is only likely to last around 15 minutes.

Afterward, Trump is due to return straight to Florida, where he plans to deliver an evening speech. At least 500 people have been invited, according to a Republican familiar with the planning and granted anonymity to discuss it. Invitees include members of Congress who have endorsed Trump’s presidential campaign as well as donors and other supporters.

Here's what is expected as the 76-year-old Trump becomes the first former US president to face criminal charges:


Trump, who was indicted by a grand jury last week, flew into New York on Monday from his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida to surrender to the authorities in New York.

Trump is expected to be fingerprinted and may also have a mug shot taken on Tuesday at a Manhattan courthouse, but Joe Tacopina, one of Trump's lawyers, said the former president would not be placed in handcuffs. Heavy security has been put in place around the court complex where Trump is to be booked on charges that have not yet been made public yet. Supporters of the former president have announced plans to hold a rally on Tuesday morning outside Trump Tower, where the real estate tycoon was spending the night.

A grand jury indicted Trump after hearing testimony from a number of witnesses about a USD 130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to buy her silence about an affair she had with Trump in 2006. Trump's former lawyer and aide Michael Cohen, who has since turned against his ex-boss, says he arranged the payment to Daniels in exchange for her silence about a tryst she says she had with Trump in 2006.

Trump, whose third wife Melania had recently given birth at the time, denies the affair.


Following his booking, Trump will be arraigned before Judge Juan Merchan, at which time he will be presented with the charges and enter a plea. The arraignment is expected to take place at 2:15 pm (1815 GMT) and the charges are expected to be made public at that time. The judge may set conditions for Trump's release and schedule the next court date.

Tacopina said Trump will plead not guilty.

He would seek to have the charges dismissed without going to trial, the lawyer said, adding that there is "zero" chance the former president will enter into a plea agreement with prosecutors.

"President Trump will not take a plea deal in this case," Tacopina told NBC's Today show. "It's not going to happen. There's no crime."

Jail time? 

While the criminal charges remain sealed, it is difficult to predict whether a potential conviction could see the unprecedented situation of a former US president being sentenced to prison.

The charges against Trump are believed to involve business fraud and campaign finance violations, but whether they rise to the level of felonies -- which carry potential jail time -- is unknown for now. Trump has no criminal record and whether he would be sentenced to prison in the event of a conviction remains to be seen.

2024 White House race

Trump can -- and undoubtedly will -- pursue his 2024 White House run despite facing criminal charges.

Nothing in the Constitution prevents someone from running for the nation's highest office while facing charges. Even if convicted, Trump would be able to keep campaigning and would not be barred from serving as president.

The 14th Amendment does prohibit anyone who has "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" from holding elected office. The House of Representatives impeached Trump for incitement of insurrection for the January 6, 2021 attack on Congress by his supporters, but he was acquitted by the Senate.

A special counsel is currently looking into Trump's role in the January 6 assault on the US Capitol and a prosecutor in Georgia is investigating his efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election in the southern state.

(with inputs from AFP, AP)


Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express