Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, which may result in imprisonment if convicted. The charges are the first criminal charges brought against a former US president.
On Tuesday, Trump, 76, appeared in Manhattan criminal court and entered a plea of not guilty to all charges. He was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court on December 4.
The charges stem from an investigation conducted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office into whether Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, falsely inflated the value of his assets to obtain loans and other financial benefits.
According to the indictment, Trump “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.”
Prosecutors have alleged that Trump’s actions were part of a “scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election by identifying and purchasing negative information about him to suppress its publication and benefit the Defendant’s electoral prospects.”
Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyers have called the charges “baseless” and said that he will be vindicated. However, if convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
The charges against Trump are a significant setback for the former president, who has been trying to rehabilitate his image ahead of a potential 2024 presidential run. The case is also a major embarrassment for the Republican Party, which has largely supported Trump since he left office.
The charges against Trump are expected to divide the country further and could have a significant impact on the 2024 presidential election. The case will likely go to trial, and it remains to be seen what the outcome will be.