Former U.S. president Donald Trump, who faces multiple investigations, will surrender to face criminal charges in a historic arraignment in New York City on Tuesday.
The mid-afternoon booking and arraignment are likely to be relatively brief, as Trump is fingerprinted, learns the charges against him and pleads, as expected, not guilty. Judge Juan Merchan has ruled that TV cameras won’t be allowed in the courtroom.
Merchan did rule that five photographers will be admitted before the arraignment starts to take pictures for several minutes until they must stop, with cameras allowed in the hallways of the building.
Trump, who was impeached twice by the U.S. House of Representatives but was never convicted in the U.S. Senate, will become the first former president to face criminal charges. The nation’s 45th commander-in-chief will be escorted from Trump Tower to the courthouse by the Secret Service.
Trump was indicted last week, becoming the first sitting or former president to face criminal charges, over a case involving a 2016 hush money payment to Stephanie Clifford, known as the porn performer Stormy Daniels. He has said he is innocent and is due to plead not guilty.
Manhattan DA expected to speak to charges
Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina said in an interview Tuesday that Trump wouldn’t plead guilty to lesser charges, even if it might resolve the case. He said he didn’t believe the case would ever make it to a jury, but he conceded that “there’s a lot of mystery here, because we’re doing something that’s never been done before.”
“I think there will be a typical processing, which does not take long, 20 to 30 minutes. There won’t be handcuffs,” Tacopina told ABC’s Good Morning America. “But, yeah, he’ll be processed the way anyone else would be — to a degree.”
The arraignment was scheduled for 2:15 p.m. ET.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat who led the investigation, is expected to give a news conference after the arraignment.
Trump will return to Florida and deliver remarks from Mar-a-Lago at 8:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday, his office said. At least 500 prominent supporters have been invited, with some of the most pro-Trump congressional Republicans expected to attend.
“We have to take back our Country and, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump wrote on his Truth Social profile shortly after arriving in New York from Florida on Monday, urging supporters to donate to his campaign.
Case not pursued federally
The Manhattan grand jury that indicted Trump heard evidence for months earlier this year about a $130,000 US payment to Daniels in the waning days of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Daniels has said she was paid to keep silent about a sexual encounter she had with Trump at a Lake Tahoe hotel in 2006. Trump denies having had any such relationship with her. At first, in 2018, Trump denied making the payments, until his then-lawyer Rudy Giuliani admitted in in a television interview that he had.
If the case heads to trial, the prosecution is expected to rely in large part on testimony from Michael Cohen, the former Trump lawyer who is now one of his most vociferous critics. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in federal court in New York in large part for orchestrating hush payments to Daniels, as well as to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also said she had a months-long affair with Trump before he took office.
A case involving election expenses would normally be considered at the federal level, but the Justice Department in the Biden administration has been focused on investigations related to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol.
In addition, the Federal Election Commission was deadlocked on a partisan basis over whether to hear the complaint that Trump violated campaign finance rules with the payment.
Prosecutors in Manhattan were reportedly laying multiple charges of falsifying records of his New York-based Trump Organization, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press last week.
NYC officials on alert
Police over the weekend began erecting barricades near Trump Tower — where Trump arrived on Monday after flying in from Florida — and the Manhattan Criminal Court building, with demonstrations expected at both sites on Tuesday.
The city’s mayor warned potential rabble-rousers to behave.
WATCH | Security tightens in New York ahead of Trump’s court appearance:
“Our message is clear and simple: Control yourselves. New York City is our home, not a playground for your misplaced anger,” Eric Adams said.
The mayor’s statement prompted an angry reaction from Congress member Marjorie Taylor-Greene, who has said she plans to be in Manhattan to protest the arraignment along with others.
Beginning of long process
Any potential trial in the Manhattan case is still at least more than a year away, legal experts said, meaning it could occur during or after the presidential campaign.
An indictment or even a conviction do not legally prevent Trump from running for president.
The Manhattan investigation is just one of several legal challenges concerning Trump.
He also faces a separate criminal probe in Georgia into whether he unlawfully tried to overturn his 2020 election defeat in that state, and two investigations by a special counsel — one that involves the effort to overturn the 2020 vote more broadly, and one concerning his handling of classified documents after leaving office.