Image courtesy of NBC News
By David Moretti
Last week, former president Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in a historic series of events beginning with an alleged bribe to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Donald Trump entered the courthouse on his own will in a historic hearing which detailed the charges and indictment handed down by a Manhattan grand jury just a few weeks ago.
The indictment came after multiple women, specifically adult film star Stormy Daniels, came forward and accused Trump of having affairs with them and subsequently paying them off during the years leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
Although Trump denies these allegations, multiple sources, including his former lawyer Michael Cohen confirmed the affairs and payments to a grand jury in Manhattan.
While the judge did tell Trump to refrain from making any comments that could “jeopardize the rule of law,” Trump did comment on the indictment and arraignment hearing following his court appearance.
Within these comments, Trump has denied the allegations and expressed his personal and political disagreements with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
“I never thought anything like this could happen in America, never thought it could happen. The only crime that I have committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it,” said Trump. “It’s an insult to our country.” said Trump.
Following its release, the indictment was criticized by both Trump’s Republican supporters and legal analysts.
“One of the complicated legal questions here is in order to bump that up from a misdemeanor to a felony you have to show that those records were falsified to commit some other crime, some second crime,” said CNN Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig. “You heard the defense lawyers, I think, rightly, complaining about that.”
What complicates this more than the charges themselves is the 2024 presidential election, for which Trump has already announced his candidacy.
Although the election is not in full swing yet, Trump has emerged as a frontrunner for the Republican nomination and sees the indictment as an attack on his campaign.
“This fake case was brought only to interfere with the upcoming 2024 election. And it should be dropped immediately,” Trump said.
CNN polls show that most Americans approve of the indictment. However, 79% of Republicans disapprove of the case brought against Trump. He remains the favorite for the Republican nomination in a fierce competition with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
According to the same CNN Polls, “Nearly all Republicans, 93%, see the indictment as politically motivated, including 83% who say politics played a major role. Among independents, 52% say politics played a major role; that drops to 25% among Democrats.”
Because of the consensus that the indictment is politically motivated, it will drastically impact the election. Trump has already begun to use his typical rhetoric when discussing the indictment and its political implications.
Now, the question is about what Trump’s poll numbers will look like at the start of the Republican primary, and if he will be able to prove that the indictment is nothing but a witch hunt.
His court date is set for December 4th, but it is unknown if he will be required to appear during his trial.