Trump Pleads Not Guilty to 34 Felony Counts, Later Calls Charges Political Persecution

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling

Former President Trump pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 34 felony counts stemming from hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal, and a doorman ahead of the 2016 election. 

The unsealed indictment includes 34 counts of falsifying business records with “intent to commit another crime and aid and conceal the commission thereof.” 

Trump is accused of disguising the money in the Trump Organization as monthly payments for legal services under a retainer agreement. 

“Manhattan is home to the country’s most significant business market,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a press release on the charges. “We cannot allow New York businesses to manipulate their records to cover up criminal conduct.”

After the indictment, Trump appeared at a rally in Florida and dismissed the charges as political persecution. 

“I never thought anything like this would happen in America,” Trump said at the beginning of his speech. “The only crime I have committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it.”

The next court date is set for Dec. 4. 

Prosecutors are hoping to begin opening arguments in the trial in January 2024. 

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