New York: Donald Trump, the former US president and front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination, is appearing in court today to be fingerprinted, photographed and formally charged in a watershed moment ahead of next year’s presidential election.
Trump, 76, is the first sitting or former president to face criminal charges. He was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury last week in a case stemming from a 2016 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, though the specific charges have yet to be disclosed. Trump has said he is innocent and is due to plead not guilty.
Although Trump has drawn tens of thousands of fervent supporters to rallies across the country, it was unclear how many would travel to his heavily Democratic home town, where automobile travel is difficult.
“Today (Tuesday) is the day that a ruling political party ARRESTS its leading opponent for having committed NO CRIME,” Trump, who flew to New York from Florida on Monday, said in a fundraising email sent out on Tuesday morning.
The arraignment, where Trump will be in court to hear charges and have a chance to enter a plea, was planned for 2:15 p.m. (1815 GMT) on Tuesday and was likely to be brief.
“It won’t be a long day in court,” Joseph Tacopina, one of Trump’s lawyers, said on ABC.
Yahoo News late on Monday reported that Trump would face 34 felony counts for falsification of business records.
Any trial is at least more than a year away, legal experts said.
Being indicted or even convicted does not legally prevent Trump from running for president.
Five photographers will be admitted to the courtroom before the arraignment starts to take pictures for several minutes. Trump’s lawyers had urged a judge to keep them out, arguing they would worsen “an already almost circus-like atmosphere.”
Some Trump supporters and detractors gathered outside the courthouse ahead of the arraignment amid tight security. A video posted on Twitter by a BuzzFeed reporter showed two female Trump supporters, one of them draped in a US flag, tussling with another woman over a large black banner outside the courthouse that read, “TRUMP LIES ALL THE TIME,” before police intervened.
The Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat who led the investigation, is set to give a news conference afterward the arraignment. Trump and his allies have portrayed the case as politically motivated.
Trump will return to Florida and deliver remarks from his Mar-a-Lago resort at 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday (0015 GMT on Wednesday), his office said.
‘Control yourselves’ Mayor says
Alvin Bragg has faced harsh criticism from Trump and his office has received bomb threats in recent weeks. Security officials have said they were not aware of credible threats surrounding Trump’s courtroom appearance.
Mayor Eric Adams warned potential rabble-rousers to behave.
“Our message is clear and simple: Control yourselves. New York City is our home, not a playground for your misplaced anger,” Mr Adams told reporters on Monday.