Day of the Don: Crowds surround courthouse as Donald Trump pleads not guilty over hush money charges

4 April 2023, 13:15 | Updated: 4 April 2023, 20:24

Crowds gathered outside the courthouse as Trump appeared before a judgev
Crowds gathered outside the courthouse as Trump appeared before a judgev. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Kit Heren

Crowds surrounded a New York courthouse on Tuesday as Donald Trump faced a judge following his official arrest.

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The former president pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts, including falsifying business records and conspiracy for his alleged role in hush money payments to two women.

He was arrested earlier after surrendering to a New York court, becoming the first US president to face criminal charges.

President Joe Biden has declined to comment on the arrest.

A media circus followed Mr Trump as he left his penthouse in the tower for the downtown courthouse in Manhattan earlier, as tensions on the streets of New York boiled over with clashes between Mr Trump's supporters and opponents at just after 6pm UK time.

Mr Trump arrived at about 6.25pm and waved to supporters outside the courthouse before going inside for his hearing.

He said earlier that the whole affair was "surreal".

Mr Trump waves as he arrives at court
Mr Trump waves as he arrives at court. Picture: Getty
Demonstrators gather outside New York Supreme Court
Demonstrators gather outside New York Supreme Court. Picture: Alamy

"Heading to Lower Manhattan, the Courthouse. Seems so SURREAL — WOW, they are going to ARREST ME," Trump wrote in a Truth Social post. "Can’t believe this is happening in America. MAGA!"

Authorities had been expecting a significant public backlash today during the indictment, with presiding judge, Judge Merchan, banning cameras, mobile phones and other digital devices from the courtroom during the hearing.

Congresswoman and prominent Trump backer Marjorie Taylor Greene led a group of chanting supporters protesting the indictment.

She compared the former president to Jesus and Nelson Mandela, saying he was "joining some of the most incredible people in history" with his arrest.

Donald Trump leaving Trump Tower earlier
Donald Trump leaving Trump Tower earlier. Picture: Alamy
Opponents of Donald Trump outside the courthouse
Opponents of Donald Trump outside the courthouse. Picture: Getty

Set to appear in court this evening at around 7pm BST, it's the first time the exact details of Trump's charges will emerge - with supporters expected to take to the streets.

It comes as the former US president's lawyers declared Trump would plead not guilty "very loudly".

The former president has been under investigation over hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels - who claims the pair had sex. Donald Trump denies any wrongdoing.

New York Grand Jury Votes To Indict Former President Trump
New York Grand Jury Votes To Indict Former President Trump. Picture: Getty
A Trump supporter argues with an Anti-Trump protester after she removed an Anti-Trump banner from her outside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse
A Trump supporter argues with an Anti-Trump protester after she removed an Anti-Trump banner from her outside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse. Picture: Getty

A 'ring of steel' had been erected around the Manhattan Court with the authorities expecting violent protests, after Donald Trump himself and family members took steps to whip up their supporters into a political frenzy against the ‘tyrannical’ US justice system.

In a statement asking supporters for money, Donald Trump JR said: “It’s hard to believe something so tyrannical could happen in America… 

"But this is the reality of our country now that the Radical Left Democrats run America. 

"As you know – and as I’ve personally witnessed my entire life – my father is a WARRIOR.

"He will not let this sham indictment stop our mission to Make America Great Again! Our movement will prevail – just as we’ve prevailed after every other vicious attack."

Mr Trump, 76, is the first ex-US president to face a criminal case.

He wrote "WITCH HUNT" online on his Truth Social social media platform before travelling to New York.

The indictment includes multiple charges of falsifying business records, including at least one felony offence, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The investigation has looked into six-figure payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Both say they had sexual encounters with Trump years before he entered politics.

Trump denies having sexual encounters with either woman and has denied any wrongdoing involving payments.

What to expect from Trump's court appearance

Mr Trump fingerprints taken at court, but will not be wearing handcuffs.

It isn't known whether a mugshot, though NBC reports this it is "unlikely".

He will then appear before a judge for his arraignment at around 2.15pm local time (7.15pm in the UK).

Trump will be read his charges and asked to enter a plea, which his lawyers have said will be not guilty.

The former president will then fly back to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, at around 8.15pm local time (1.15am in the UK, Wednesday).

The former president and his allies have been on the attack since he was charged on Thursday, labelling the indictment a "politically-motivated witch hunt".

In a statement last week, Trump said: "This is political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history".

He continued: "The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to 'get Trump', but now they've done the unthinkable - indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant election interference."

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