Donald Trump arrest: Former president rips ‘fake case’ and maintains his innocence

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in Palm Beach, Fla., after being arraigned earlier in the day in New York City. Evan Vucci/AP

Donald Trump arrest: Former president rips ‘fake case’ and maintains his innocence

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Former President Donald Trump, the 2024 Republican nominee front-runner, was defiant in his first public on-camera remarks since he became the first holder of the office to be charged with a crime.

“I never thought anything like this could happen in America,” Trump told supporters Tuesday at Mar-a-Lago, his private resort and club in Palm Beach, Florida. “The only crime I have committed is to fiercely defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it.”

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Without third wife Melania, daughter Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner by his side, the former president relitigated the federal Russia investigation, his first impeachment over Ukraine, and the 2020 election.

“This fake case was brought only to interfere with the upcoming 2024 election, and it should be dropped immediately,” he said after being introduced as the “next president of the United States.”

Observers who wondered whether he would criticize Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and New York state Judge Juan Merchan were not required to wait long during his 25-minute speech, with Trump also scrutinizing special counsel Jack Smith, New York Attorney General Letitia James, and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in Georgia. The former president additionally had words to say about President Joe Biden, comparing his record with that of his predecessor.

“We are a failing nation. We are a nation in decline,” he said. “With all being said, and with a very dark cloud over our beloved country, I have no doubt, nevertheless, that we will make America great again.”

Donald Trump, Jr., Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), 2022 Arizona Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, My Pillow CEO Michael Lindell, and Richard Nixon ally Roger Stone were among the guests gathered in the former president’s gilded ballroom. The former president earlier spoke to supporters who were not invited or could not attend on the phone.

Trump’s indignant demeanor was different from the stone-faced appearance captured by the select photographers permitted in the Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday afternoon. There, he pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to cover up hush-money payments he made before the 2016 election.

As Trump was being booked and fingerprinted, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Trump being arraigned is not “a focus” for President Joe Biden.

“Of course, this is playing out on many of the networks here on a daily basis for hours and hours, so he will catch parts of the news when he has a moment to catch up on the news of the day,” she said.

Biden ignored journalists who shouted questions about whether Trump being indicted was “politically motivated” before a meeting with his science and technology advisers at the White House

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Bragg has been scrutinized for his scant charging document, unsealed during Trump’s hearing, even by “Never Trumper” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). In a press conference afterward, Bragg defended his case, drawing parallels between it and the federal investigations into Trump’s role in Jan. 6, Georgia’s inquiry into whether the former president interfered in the 2020 election, and, to a lesser extent, the federal investigation into his handling of classified information. Bragg, too, stood by the delayed action, citing new evidence.

“We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct,” he said. “The participants’ scheme was illegal. The scheme violated New York election law, which makes it a crime to conspire to promote a candidacy by unlawful means.”

Trump’s attorneys held their own media opportunity, defending the former president’s rhetoric regarding Bragg and Merchan. Trump had earlier shared a doctored image on social media of him swinging a baseball bat at Bragg and told supporters Merchan “hated” him.

“He’s not going after the judge. He noted there were some issues that might cause a conflict,” Trump lawyer Susan Necheles said.

During their return to Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday afternoon, after flying to New York on Monday, Trump’s team disseminated a fundraising email with a manufactured mugshot. Trump aides claim they have raised millions since alluding to Tuesday’s events two weeks ago while a grand jury was still impaneled.

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Trump allegedly had an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels in 2006, shortly after the birth of his son Barron with Melania. Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges related to organizing the $130,000 payment to Daniels before the 2016 election, was reimbursed by the Trump Organization for “legal expenses” while the former president was in the White House. Cohen was also involved in “catch-and-kill” deals with the National Enquirer, which paid former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 for her story about an alleged affair with Trump and a Trump Tower doorman $30,000 for his claims the former president had a child out of wedlock. The tabloid never published the articles.

Trump’s next court date is in December, when Merchan will rule on any motions filed by the former president’s legal representatives. The trial is expected to start in January, the same month as Iowa’s Republican primary caucuses.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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