"US is going to hell": Trump says in his first remarks, faces 34 serious criminal charges

Trump made history as the first former US President to be arrested. He was hit with 34 serious criminal charges relating to hush money

Trump pleads not guilty on criminal charges at hearing
Trump pleads not guilty on criminal charges at hearing

NH International Bureau

Hours after being charged over hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, former US president, Donald Trump attacked US president Joe Biden saying that the "country is going to hell".

Trump appeared in a Manhattan court on Tuesday and surrendered to face criminal charges. Hit with 34 criminal charges, Trump was addressing his supporters and the media from Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home.

"I never thought anything like this could happen in America -- never thought it could happen," Trump said, adding "the only crime that I've committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it".

“While we are living through the darkest hours of American history, I can say that at least for this moment right now, I am in great spirits," Donald Trump said.

If he is convicted on all the 34 charges he could theoretically face 136 years in prison -- four years for each offence -- under the creative way Manhattan prosecutor Alvin Bragg framed the charges breaking out separate transactions into individual charges.

Under New York's legal system, a grand jury -- a panel of citizens -- investigated the case in secret hearings and voted on Thursday that there was a prima facie case against him, enabling Manhattan prosecutor Alvin Bragg to file charges.

Trump is the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, and in a poll aggregation, he is only two points behind US President Joe Biden.

The next hearing in the case is set for December when the campaigns get heated and the trial could impinge in the race for the presidency.

The US Constitution does not bar an undertrial -- or even a convict -- from running for the President. Trump is under at least three other investigations, two by federal authorities on his role in the attack on the US Congress by his rioting supporters in January 2021 and his handling of top secret documents, and a local investigation in Georgia State whether he tried to manipulate the 2020 presidential election result.

After being booked without being handcuffed or asked to pose for identification pictures but made to give his fingerprints, he was taken to the courtroom of Acting New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.

He did not react to TV reporters in the hallway and sat somberly at the defendant's table flanked by his lawyers as he was formally charged.

The judge admonished him against making incendiary statements. Trump had attacked the judge, saying that he hated Trump.

He arrived at the courthouse early afternoon in a black sports utility-type vehicle instead of a limousine in a motorcade with escort vehicles as news helicopters circled overhead.

In a park across from the courthouse supporters and opponents of Trump held opposing demonstrations, separated by barricades, exchanging insults but there was no violence.

The prosecution alleges that the Trump business records falsely classified the payments as lawyer's fees when in fact they were payoffs to Daniels.

Cohen was prosecuted by federal officials for tax evasion and federal election law violations and was sentenced to three years in prison. He is the prime witness in the case against Trump.

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