Former US President Donald Trump surrendered to authorities in Manhattan court ahead of his sentencing on criminal charges related to his 2016 campaign payments to a porn star.
Dressed in his signature dark suit and red tie, Mr Trump turned and waved to the crowd outside the building before going inside to be fingerprinted and processed; .
A stony-faced Mr Trump entered the courtroom shortly before 2.30pm local time without saying anything.
He arrived at the courthouse in an eight-car motorcade that took him from Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan along the main north-south thoroughfare on the city’s east side, past places like the United Nations.
On the way, the former president made a post on his social media platform. “Heading to Lower Manhattan, the courthouse. It seems so SURREAL – WOW, they’re going to arrest me! I can’t believe this is happening in America. MAGA”
The arraignment and appearance before Judge Juan Mercan should be relatively brief, though hardly routine, as Mr. Trump learns the charges against him for the first time.
Mr. Trump will not plead guilty, according to his lawyers, and is expected to enter a plea as is customary in court.
Judge Merchan has ruled that television cameras will be banned from the courtroom.
Mr Trump, who has twice been impeached by the US House of Representatives but never convicted in the US Senate, is the first former president to face criminal charges.
“He’s strong and ready to go,” Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, told The Associated Press.
Earlier, Mr. Tacopina said in a television interview that the former president would not plead guilty to the lesser charges, even if it could settle the case. He also said he doesn’t think the case will go to a jury.
New York police say they are bracing for large protests by Trump supporters, who share the Republican former president’s belief that the New York grand jury indictment and three additional investigations are politically motivated and aimed at undermining his bid to retake the White House in 2024. :
However, reporters often outnumbered protesters.
Mr Trump, a former reality TV star, has played up the story to his political advantage, saying he has raised more than eight million dollars since being accused of a “witch hunt”.
His campaign released a fundraiser titled “My Last Letter Before Arrest,” and he has repeatedly attacked the Manhattan district attorney, led supporters to protest, and claimed without evidence that the judge presiding over the case “hates me,” which his attorney claims. what was said is not true.
Mr. Trump is due to return to his Palm Beach, Fla., home at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday night for speeches.
The conviction will not prevent Mr. Trump from running for or winning the presidency in 2024.
In a Manhattan courtroom, prosecutors led by New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, are expected to wrap up the indictment handed down by a grand jury last week.
This is when Mr Trump and his lawyers will get their first glimpse of the exact allegations against him.
The indictment contains multiple counts of falsifying business records, including at least one felony count, two people familiar with the case told The Associated Press last week.
Authorities are expected to release Mr. Trump after the lawsuit because the charges against him do not require bail.
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The investigation is looking into six-figure payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Both say they had sex with the married Mr Trump years before he entered politics.
Mr Trump denies having sex with any of the women and has denied any wrongdoing in connection with the payments.