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Tags: donald trump | criminal case | new york | alvin bragg

Trump: My Only Crime Is to 'Fearlessly Defend Our Nation'

By    |   Tuesday, 04 April 2023 08:45 PM EDT

"I never thought anything like this could happen in America," former President Trump told supporters at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday night after appearing in a Manhattan courtroom and pleading "not guilty" to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

"The only crime that I have committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it," Trump said in his 25-minute remarks. The action, he said, was election interference by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office to keep him from becoming president again.

Trump emerged from a doorway in the back of the room about 10 minutes behind schedule and walked through the crowd of supporters looking much like his entrances in the Capitol Building to give State of the Union addresses as president. Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" played and the crowd shouted, "USA! USA!" as he took the stage.

Trump — the frontrunner in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination — said from a stage festooned with American flags in an opulent gold-and-cream ballroom that "radical left" prosecutors across the country were out to get him "at any cost."

He listed his claims of election interference throughout the 2020 election that sent him to defeat against Democrat Joe Biden, adding that this case was further election interference in the 2024 election for which he is currently running.

"From the beginning, the Democrats spied on my campaign. Remember that?" he noted. "They attacked me with an onslaught of fraudulent investigations. Russia, Russia, Russia, Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine. Impeachment hoax No. 1. Impeachment hoax No. 2. The illegal and unconstitutional raid on Mar-a-Lago right here. Lying to the FISA courts."

Earlier as Trump prepared to address the nation — and especially his supporters and potential GOP 2024 voters — he said in a post on his Truth Social website:

"Just lifted off for Palm Beach, Florida. Will be delivering remarks tonight at Mar-a-Lago at 8:15 P.M., EASTERN. The hearing was shocking to many in that they had no "surprises," and therefore, no case. Virtually every legal pundit has said that there is no case here. There was nothing done illegally!"

Many of Trump's family and supporters, including MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, R-Ga., and 2022 Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, were there to support him.

Justice Juan Merchan did not issue a gag order during Tuesday's court appearance but admonished both sides to refrain from statements that could spur violence. Trump has said Merchan "hates" him and has criticized Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for bringing the case after his predecessor Cyrus Vance Jr. declined to prosecute.

Trump rarely spoke during the proceedings, but when he did it was loud and clear: "Not guilty."

He denies all 34 counts against him, felony charges related to hush money payments including over an alleged tryst with adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Trump's former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg is serving a five-month jail term for the same charge of falsifying business records.

Trump voiced defiance for weeks as the indictment loomed, but appeared glum following the fingerprinting that goes with any standard booking procedure.

Trump's lead counsel Todd Blanche, who left an elite New York law firm to helm the defendant's team, repeatedly referred to his client as "the president" and urged the judge not to prevent him from reacting to perceived criticism on social media.

Limiting Trump's ability to speak out would be "potentially unfair for someone who's running for the president of the United States," said Blanche, who was added to the team on the evening before his surrender.

Trump is "absolutely frustrated, upset, and believes there is a grand injustice happening," the attorney added.

Manhattan prosecutors say Trump "repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election."

A "statement of facts" released alongside the indictment included details of hush money payments to Daniels, Playboy model Karen McDougal and a former Trump Tower doorman claiming to have a story about a child Trump had out of wedlock.

Daniels was paid $130,000 by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, while McDougal and the doorman got $150,000 and $30,000 respectively from AMI, the publishers of supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer. The Enquirer determined the doorman's story to be false.

Bragg alleges that Trump and his allies "also took steps that mischaracterized, for tax purposes, the true nature of the payments."

Trump and his lawyers have accused Bragg of over-reaching in his characterization of the allegations.

Trump had sent a fundraising email shortly before flying back to Florida, saying that since the news of his indictment broke, his campaign had raised over $10 million.

"While we are living through the darkest hours of American history, I can say that at least for this moment right now, I am in great spirits," Trump said.

The twice-impeached Republican is the first sitting or former American president to be criminally indicted.

Merchan said a trial could potentially start as soon as January — a month before the presidential primaries kick off — although Trump's lawyers have indicated they would want it pushed back to next spring.

On Tuesday afternoon following Trump's court appearance, another court ordered Stormy Daniels to pay Trump's attorneys, in that case, another $122,000, bringing the total to $600,000, his attorney in that case, Harmeet Dhillon, said.

AFP contributed to this report.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

"I never thought anything like this could happen in America," former President Trump told supporters at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday night after appearing in a Manhattan courtroom and pleading "not guilty" to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.
donald trump, criminal case, new york, alvin bragg
Tuesday, 04 April 2023 08:45 PM
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