Former US President Donald Trump spoke just six times, including when pleading not guilty, before a judge in a Manhattan courthouse during the nearly hour-long hearing at his arraignmentaccording to court records.
Trump, 76, the first former US president to be criminally charged, has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. in connection with hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election at his arraignment here in Manhattan criminal court Tuesday afternoon.
During the almost hour-long court hearing before Judge Juan Merchan, Trump spoke, almost in monosyllables, six times, according to the transcript of his appearance that has been made public.
When Merchan said, “We are going to prosecute Mr. Trump,” the court clerk responded, “Donald J. Trump, the New York County Grand Jury has entered Indictment 71543 of 2023 charging you with the 34-count crimes of falsification of commercial records in the first degree”. . How do you plead guilty or not guilty to this charge? Trump responded: “Not guilty.”
When Merchan said “Mr. Trump, as he knows, has an absolute right to conflict-free representation. The Pueblo has alleged that there is potential, Mr. (José) Tacopina has a conflict, and the basis of his belief is that he may have represented a former client who is a witness in this case… I simply want to inform you of that because it is an important right . I also want — first, do you get that right, Mr. Trump?” Trump replied “Yes.”
Trump leaves Manhattan Criminal Court and now faces 34 counts of falsifying business records.
You are now headed to LaGuardia Airport for your return trip to Mara-A-Lago. pic.twitter.com/eMX7UXxGso
—Moshe Schwartz (@YWNReporter) April 4, 2023
“And so People won’t be filing a motion at this time, but you’re certainly welcome if you want to check in with other lawyers from time to time, go over this issue with them and see how you feel about it when you’re done, okay? Merchan added. Trump replied: “Okay, thank you.”
Judge Merchan then said he is required by law to inform Trump that there are ways he can waive his right to be present at these proceedings. “Specifically, I would like to refer to two specific areas. He may waive his right to be present if he voluntarily absents himself from the process.”
“So if it is determined that at some point along the way, you are not present at some point because you chose not to be present, I have the authority, I have the right to find that you voluntarily waived your right to be present. present and continue the proceedings in your absence. Do you understand that?” said the judge.
“Yes,” Trump replied.
Merchan added that a second way that Trump can forfeit or waive his entitlement is “by becoming disruptive, and I have no reason to believe that will happen. But, if it becomes prejudicial to such a degree that it affects my ability to preside over this case and my ability (to ensure) that the case is handled the way it should be handled by both parties, I have the authority to remove from the courtroom court and continue in your absence, do you understand that? Trump replied: “Yes, I do.”
Judge Merchan further said that if either of those situations occurred and the case went to trial, “we would go to trial without you. If there was a verdict and that verdict was guilty, we could take that verdict without you. And if there was a time for sentencing, we could impose a sentence without you. Do you understand?” Trump responded with a “yes.”