Former President Donald Trump told a crowd of supporters that his historic indictment amounted to election interference being pursued to stand in his way of winning a second term in the Oval Office.
The former president returned to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida after his arraignment hearing in Manhattan Tuesday afternoon, where he criticized Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and launched into other tangents about President Joe Biden, the 2020 election and the Department of Justice that is investigating him over his alleged mishandling of classified documents.
His speech was the first time speaking publicly since becoming the first president in U.S. history to face criminal charges.
Trump claimed the case had no merit, calling it an “embarrassment to our country” and that legal pundits and analysts agreed that there was “no case.”
“Virtually everybody that has looked at this case, including (Republicans in name only) and even hardcore Democrats say there is no crime and that it should never have been brought,”
He also accused Bragg of leaking information about the grand jury that voted to indict him and called for him to be prosecuted or resign from office. The judge overseeing the Manhattan district attorney’s case did not institute a gag order but told his defense team to urge him against making posts that would encourage unrest due to the trial.
Prosecutors charged Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, all of which are in New York’s lowest felony category and carry a maximum sentence of for years in prison for each charge.
Falsifying business records is a felony in New York when there is intent to “commit another crime or to aid or conceal” one, and prosecutors argued in the indictment that Trump violated election law by trying to suppress negative information before the 2016 election.
“Each of those is going to be tied to another crime that it was trying to effectuate or conceal and the particulars in the 34 counts do not tell us exactly what those crimes are but there is an associated statement of facts that hints very clearly and broadly at the nature and range and pattern of crimes to which these false records will be tied,” said Catherine Ross, a law professor at George Washington University and author of “A Right to Lie? Presidents, Other Liars, and the First Amendment.”
Most of Trump’s speech was spent on the other legal investigations he is currently facing outside of the hush money case, including a Georgia inquiry into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and a U.S. Department of Justice special counsel’s investigation of his handling of classified materials. Trump could also face legal peril from federal prosecutors for the fallout of the 2020 election and the run-up to the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Trump’s next court date for the New York case is scheduled for Dec. 4, roughly two months before the Republican presidential primaries are set to kick off. He has already been fundraising off the indictment before it was even announced, and his campaign raised millions of dollars in the days leading up to his trial.