Trump in court reckoning: What happened and what’s ahead

Trump pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 34 felony charges in his arraignment in a New York City courtroom.

Trump sits at court with his lawyers.

Former President Donald Trump sits at the defense table for his arraignment with his attorneys, from left, Todd Blanche, Susan Necheles, Joseph Tacopina and Boris Epshteyn, in New York, Tuesday, April 4, 2023.(Andrew Kelly/Pool Photo via AP)

Donald Trump sat solemnly in a New York City courtroom Tuesday as prosecutors charged him with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in a hush money investigation. The first former president to be charged with crimes pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, repeatedly assailed the investigation, called the indictment “political persecution” and predicted it would damage Democrats in 2024. Trump’s lawyers have said the former Republican president “did not commit any crime” and they will “vigorously fight this political prosecution in court.”

A look at what happened Tuesday:

What happened after the surrender?

Trump was booked.

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Before computers, information on every criminal suspect would be written down in a big book kept by court officials. Now, it’s all computerized, but the process is largely the same.

Court officers take down the accused’s full name, age, birthdate, height and weight. They check for any outstanding warrants. They were expected to have taken Trump’s fingerprints but were not believed to have taken a mug shot.

In New York, this process usually takes about two hours, but can be as long as four. But no one else was getting processed when Trump arrived, so it was faster. Then he went before a judge.

What happened in the hearing?

Prosecutors raised concerns about what they said were irresponsible social media posts they said targeted people in the case, including grand jury witnesses and District Attorney Alvin Bragg. They specifically pointed to posts Trump made that warned of “potential death and destruction” if he were to be indicted.

The judge said he was not imposing a gag order at this point but asked both sides to refrain from making comments or engaging in comments that could lead to civil unrest.

Trump spoke briefly. He told the judge he was pleading “not guilty” to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and he was advised of his rights. Trump stayed mostly still, his hands steepled or interlaced, and looked ahead during the proceedings that lasted just over an hour.

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Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche said during the hearing: “He is absolutely frustrated, upset and believes that there is a great injustice happening in this courtroom today.”

Was he arrested?

Technically, yes.

When someone is fingerprinted and processed, that person is considered to be under arrest and in custody. But for Trump, it didn’t look like what it does in the movies or on TV’s “Law & Order.”

He wasn’t handcuffed and he didn’t sit in a jail cell. That’s in part because some of the courthouse was cleared out for his arraignment and because Trump is a former president with Secret Service protection. Not all defendants are handcuffed before they appear before a judge for an arraignment, though some are.

Did Trump walk out of there?

Yes. Trump did not say anything as he exited the courtroom, ignoring reporters.

What happens next?

Trump is next due in court in December. His lawyers asked for him to be excused from attending the hearing in person because of the extraordinary security measures.

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