Trump responds to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in NY

Former President Trump was fingerprinted and escorted by Secret Service into the New York criminal courtroom Tuesday.

The indictment made public for the first time lists 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, and goes well beyond the $130,000 hush money payment that Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence about an alleged affair with Trump during the 2016 campaign.

"The defendant claimed that he was paying Michael Cohen for legal services performed in 2017. This simply was not true," said Alvin Bragg, Jr., Manhattan District Attorney.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said the grand jury found 34 pieces of evidence including invoices and vouchers and checks signed by Trump to cover up payments to Daniels and others.

"Under New York State law, it is a felony to falsify business records with intent to defraud and intent to conceal another crime," said Bragg, "Why did Donald Trump repeatedly make these false statements? The evidence will show that he did so to cover up crimes relating to the 2016 election."

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Bragg said the crimes involved a scheme hatched by Trump, Cohen, and the leaders of American Media Incorporated or AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer tabloid called "catch and kill."

"That is a scheme to buy and suppress negative information to help Mr. Trump's chance of winning the election," said Bragg.

Bragg said the scheme involved setting up shell companies and hiding hush-money payouts to Daniels and two other people, a doorman who claimed to know about an illegitimate child, and Playboy model Karen McDougal who also claimed to have had an affair with Trump.

"The participants' scheme was illegal. The scheme violated New York election law, which makes it a crime to conspire to promote a candidacy by unlawful means," said Bragg.

Bragg also said the $130,000 payout exceeded the federal campaign contribution cap and he said false statements in AMI's books violated New York law.

In court, Trump had few words, pleading not guilty. His attorneys vowed to file motions.

"He is angry because the DA has brought a case that is unjustified," said Susan Necheles, one of Trump's attorney.

Trump returned to his Mar-a-Lago home and hours later at a campaign-style rally with loyal supporters.

"There is no case. There's no case. They said there is no case," said Trump.

He denounced the charges as a political witch hunt.

"This fake case was brought up only to interfere with the upcoming 2024 election and it should be dropped immediately," said Trump.

The next hearing is set for December. Trump's legal team has the next four months to file motions.