Donald Trump will appear in court on Tuesday afternoon to formally respond to charges over his involvement in a hush-money scheme, marking the first time in American history that a former president will face criminal charges.
The court appearance comes five days after a New York grand jury voted to indict Trump as part of a years-long investigation spearheaded by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
On Monday, the former president and current presidential candidate traveled from his Florida home of Mar-a-Lago to New York, where he spent the night at Trump Tower. Trump’s arraignment is scheduled to take place at 2.15pm ET at a courthouse in lower Manhattan, which has been heavily secured amid concerns about potential unrest or violence in response to the indictment.
Here’s everything you need to know about Tuesday’s proceedings:
Why is Trump appearing in court?
A grand jury voted to indict Trump last Thursday over allegations that he illegally reimbursed his former attorney, Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, an adult film star who claims to have had an extramarital affair with the former president beginning in 2006. Cohen paid Daniels in the final days before the 2016 presidential election, as she was preparing to go public with her story about the alleged affair. (Trump has said the affair never took place.)
Trump has acknowledged reimbursing Cohen, but he denies any illegal wrongdoing. The office of the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, has been investigating the matter for months, and Bragg confirmed on Thursday that he was working with Trump’s team to coordinate his surrender.
What charges is Trump facing?
That remains unclear. As of Tuesday morning, the indictment remains under seal, but the document will probably be released to the public after Trump is formally arrested and appears at his arraignment.
According to NBC News, Trump is facing about 30 charges related to document fraud in the hush-money scheme. Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, has already started challenging the charges, accusing Bragg of having “taken a a misdemeanor and tried, cobbled together, to make it a felony by alleging a violation of federal campaign violations”.
How will Trump surrender to authorities?
Some of the decisions over how to formally arrest a former president appear to be up in the air. Tacopina has said he does not expect officers to put Trump in handcuffs, but the former president is likely to be fingerprinted and get his mugshot taken once he surrenders.
“I honestly don’t know how this is going to go – hopefully as smoothly as possible, and then we begin the battle to right this wrong,” Tacopina told CNN on Sunday.
What is the security situation in New York?
As they brace for potential unrest in response to the indictment, officials have closed roads around the courthouse and Trump Tower to heavily restrict access to the buildings. Barricades have also been erected at both sites, and the courthouse plans to shut down some courtrooms as the arraignment takes place, Reuters reports. Last week, the New York police department asked all officers to report for duty in uniform as a “precautionary measure”. Trump will travel with Secret Service officers, who protect all former US presidents.
The New York Young Republican Club has already announced it will hold a rally at a park near the courthouse to protest against Bragg’s “heinous attack” on Trump. The far-right congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene plans to travel from Washington to speak at the rally.
“We will not live in fear and we will lawfully stand against tyranny and corruption while we show our support for President Trump,” Greene said on Sunday.
How will Trump respond to the charges?
Tacopina has indicated that Trump will plead not guilty to all charges, and the former president’s legal team is expected to fight the prosecution tooth and nail on every motion.
“I very much anticipate a motion to dismiss coming because there’s no law that fits this,” Tacopina said on Sunday.
What happens next?
Once Trump enters a plea, the judge will set a schedule for next steps in the pre-trial process. The trial itself is not expected to start for months. Once the arraignment comes to a close, Trump will almost certainly be released and allowed to return to Florida.
Trump has already announced that he will deliver remarks at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, at 8.15pm ET on Tuesday night to defend himself against the charges.
Even though the trial is probably still months away, Trump is already planning for a guilty verdict. In a message posted to the social media platform Truth Social on Friday, Trump attacked the judge assigned to his case, the New York State supreme court justice Juan Merchan, and pledged to appeal the ruling.
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