By MICHAEL R. SISAK, ERIC TUCKER, JENNIFER PELTZ and WILL WEISSERT
NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump surrendered to authorities Tuesday at a Manhattan courthouse ahead of his arraignment on criminal charges stemming from a hush money payment to a porn actor during his 2016 campaign.
Wearing his signature dark suit and red tie, Trump turned and waved to crowds outside the building before heading inside to be fingerprinted and processed — a remarkable reckoning after years of investigations into his personal, business and political dealings and an extraordinary moment in U.S. history.
He arrived at court in an eight-car motorcade that took him from Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan through the main north-south highway on the east side of the city, past landmarks such as the United Nations. Along the way, the voluble ex-president posted on his social media platform: “Heading to Lower Manhattan, the Courthouse. Seems so SURREAL — WOW, they are going to ARREST ME. Can’t believe this is happening in America. MAGA!”
The booking and appearance before Judge Juan Merchan should be relatively brief — though hardly routine — as Trump learns for the first time the charges against him. Trump will plead not guilty, according to his lawyers, and is expected to enter the plea himself, as is standard in the court.
Merchan has ruled that TV cameras won’t be allowed in the courtroom.
Trump, who was impeached twice by the U.S. House but was never convicted in the U.S. Senate, is the first former president to face criminal charges. The nation’s 45th commander in chief was escorted from Trump Tower to the courthouse by the Secret Service and may have his mug shot taken.
“He is strong and ready to go,” Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina told The Associated Press. Earlier, Tacopina said in a TV interview that the former president wouldn’t plead guilty to lesser charges, even if it might resolve the case. He also said he didn’t think the case would make it to a jury.
New York police said they were ready for large protests by Trump supporters, who share the Republican former president’s belief that the New York grand jury indictment and three additional pending investigations are politically motivated and intended to weaken his bid to retake the White House in 2024. Journalists often outnumbered protesters, though.
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