Former U.S. President Donald Trump has officially been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records. The charges are in relation to ‘hush money’ he allegedly paid to ensure silence over extramarital affairs.
He has pleaded not guilty to all 34 charges. Each charge carries a maximum prison sentence of four years.
Trump is now the first current or former U.S. President to be charged with a criminal offence.
So, why did Donald Trump get arrested?
Hush money is not illegal, but falsifying business records is in New York.
The opening of the indictment of Donald Trump, published by the District Attorney, New York County, said: “Donald J 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.”
There were three separate instances of alleged hush money payments:
- A $US130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to prevent her from speaking out about the alleged affair.
- A $US30,000 payment to a doorman at Trump Tower who was trying to sell information about a child Trump had allegedly fathered out of wedlock.
- A $US150,000 payment to another woman who also alleged she had sex with Trump.
Can Trump still run for president?
Trump announced his campaign to run for U.S. president in the 2024 election last year. He has started rallies to gain support for his campaign.
An indictment or criminal conviction would not legally stop Trump from running for president in 2024.
The next in-person court hearing is set for 4 December. Trump’s team is expected to try to move this date earlier if they can’t stop the case.
How did Trump respond?
While speaking at Mar-a-Lago today, Trump said the only crime he has committed is to “fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it”.
He claimed the U.S. is “going to hell”, and criticised Bragg for bringing the charges against him.