The indictment against former United States President Donald Trump was unsealed in a New York City court on Tuesday, revealing 34 felony counts against him.
The 13-page document contained the latest revelations in a hush money probe led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, making Trump the first US president in history to face criminal charges.
After his arraignment, the former president declined to speak with reporters in New York and opted instead to deliver his remarks during a primetime address from his resort in Florida.
Here are five takeaways from Trump’s arraignment and primetime speech after pleading not guilty to criminal charges of falsifying business records.
Broader Scope Of Charges
The investigation by the Manhattan grand jury was previously believed to revolve around $130,000 allegedly paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels to purchase her silence in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
Daniels alleged at the time that she and then-presidential candidate Trump had an extramarital affair. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office, on the other hand, charged the former president with “repeatedly and fraudulently” falsifying records in order to hide “damaging information from the voting public.”
It detailed alleged “catch and kill” schemes, accusing Trump of working with the head of American Media Inc (AMI) to purchase and suppress coverage that could harm his public image.
“Only Crime”-Defending The Nation
Tuesday night at Mar-a-Lago, Trump began his post-arraignment remarks with a resounding claim that his “only crime” is trying to protect the nation. “God bless you all. I never thought anything like this could happen in America,” he said, adding that the only crime he’s committed is trying “to defend our nation from those who seek to destroy.”
Long List Of Complaints, Little Fact
Mr. Trump spent much of his 25-minute speech airing perceived wrongs against him. He spent the first six minutes of his remarks sharing a list of unresolved grievances culminating in his recent indictment over alleged hush-money payments.
“From the beginning, the Democrats spied on my campaign, and they attacked me with an onslaught of fraudulent investigations,” he began the speech from his Florida club Mar-a-Lago.
Then he continued on with what’s become one of his familiar baseless claims that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him. “The FBI and DOJ relentlessly pursuing Republicans. Unconstitutional changes to election laws by not getting approval from state legislators. The millions of votes illegally stuffed into ballot boxes—and all caught on government cameras. And just recently, the FBI and DOJ and collusion with Twitter and Facebook in order not to say anything bad about the Hunter Biden laptop from hell.”
A Rehash Of Campaign Speech Highlights
Trump spent a lot of time rehashing what sounded like highlights of campaign speeches past, including the respect he commanded when he was the leader of the free world, his touting the excellent economy he created (before the COVID-19 pandemic), and the exaggerated portrayal of modern America as a lawless nation on the brink of total collapse.
“The USA is a mess. Our economy is crashing, inflation is out of control, Russia has joined with China; Saudi Arabia has joined with Iran; China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea have formed together as a menacing and destructive coalition,” Trump said. “Our currency is crashing and will soon no longer be the world standard, which will be our greatest defeat, frankly, in 200 years.”
Criticism Of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg
Unsurprisingly, Trump criticized Manhattan District Attorney Bragg, who led the case against him. In his speech at Mar-a-Lago, he falsely stated that Bragg “campaigned on the notion that he would get President Trump. ‘I gotta get him. I’m going to get him.’ This is a guy campaigning. You want to get President Trump at any cost, and this before he knew anything about me, didn’t know a thing about me. He was campaigning.”
Trump also took aim at Bragg’s wife for tweeting about the case and mentioned his daughter’s career as a digital strategist for political campaigns—including Kamala Harris’ presidential bid—as evidence that the local prosecutor was irredeemably biased against Trump and his family.
Last month, after Trump began lobbying insults at Bragg, Danielle Filson, a spokesperson for the prosecutor, responded, “We will not be intimidated by attempts to undermine the justice process, nor will we let baseless accusations deter us from fairly applying the law.”