"Not guilty," Donald Trump said in a firm voice during a historic appearance before a judge Tuesday. He became the first US president - former or current - to be charged with a crime.
Donald Trump turned his head toward photographers as he sat, stone-faced with shoulders rounded, at the defence table in a downtown Manhattan courtroom.
"Not guilty," he said in a firm voice during a historic appearance before a judge Tuesday. Trump became the first US president - former or current - to be charged with a crime.
Prosecutors state in a 34-count felony indictment that Trump conspired to illegally influence the 2016 presidential election through hush money payments to two women, including a porn performer, who said they had sexual encounters with him.
In addition, charging documents say a payoff went to a doorman who claimed to have a story about an out-of-wedlock child allegedly fathered by Trump.
He’s next due in court in December, but his lawyers asked for him to be excused from attending the hearing in person because of extraordinary security proceedings.
Earlier, Trump struck a defiant pose, raising a clenched fist as he exited Trump Tower for the short ride from midtown to lower Manhattan. He wore a dark blue suit, white shirt, and red tie.
Trump himself described the experience as “SURREAL”.
At the court, the former US president was told to avoid rhetoric that could inflame or cause civil unrest by Judge Juan Merchan.
The judge also warned Trump that he could be removed from the courtroom if he is disruptive, but Trump spoke only a few times to respond to questions.
Television news helicopters followed his motorcade's route, allowing viewers around the world to see the former president arrive at New York County Criminal Court.
He entered the courtroom at 2:30 pm, about 70 minutes after arriving.
But demonstrators who gathered at a park across the street were unable to glimpse Trump as he made the short walk from his SUV into the courthouse for the arraignment.
Trump supporters, many in red hats, decried the district attorney's actions, while counter-protestors cheered the indictment. They were nearly outnumbered by police officers and journalists. The court appearance lasted about an hour and the small crowd dwindled after word spread that Trump had left the building.
The arraignment amounts to a remarkable reckoning for Trump after years of investigations into his personal, business and political dealings.
The case is unfolding against the backdrop not only of his third campaign for the White House but also against other investigations in Washington and Atlanta that might yet produce even more charges.