Donald Trump arrested, appearing in New York court in Stormy Daniels case

Former US President and potential 2024 Republican nominee Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in a hush money case.

Trump, 76, is the first sitting or former president to face criminal charges. He was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury last week in a case stemming from a 2016 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, though the specific charges had yet to be disclosed.

What you need to know:

  • Former US President Donald Trump is appearing in a Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday morning (NZ time) on charges related to falsifying business records in a hush-money investigation.
  • He was formally arrested when he arrived at the criminal courthouse and is scheduled to face a judge for his arraignment at 6:15am NZ Time
  • Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in a hush-money investigation.

That concludes our coverage of Donald Trump's court appearance.

9:02am - Trump has just released a fundraising email to supporters saying they're living in the "darkest hours of American history".

"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 then asked his supporters to consider contributing to his 2024 presidential campaign, saying, "I have never been more certain that we will win back the White House and save our Great Nation."

8:54am - The statement of facts outlines how AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer, worked to silence a former Trump World Tower doorman who claimed to have knowledge of an alleged affair between Trump and an ex-housekeeper.

According to court documents, AMI’s CEO David Pecker instructed his organisation "to pay the Doorman $30,000 to acquire exclusive rights to the story." AMI then allegedly "falsely characterized this payment" in their own records, including its general ledger.

AMI did not vet the story before purchasing, the statement of facts reads.

When they concluded the story was not true, AMI wanted to release the doorman from the agreement to keep the story under wraps, the statement of facts reads, but Michael Cohen "instructed the AMI CEO not to release the Doorman until after the presidential election." 

Pecker allegedly complied with that request, the statement of facts reads.

CNN reports

8:43am - Participants in the alleged illegal hush-money scheme, including Michael Cohen, admitted payoffs to the two women were unlawful, according to the statement of facts released.

In late 2018, American Media, Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the Southern District of New York’s US Attorney’s office relating to paying Karen McDougal for her story about Trump, the statement of facts said. 

AMI told authorities they never intended to publish McDougal’s story and made the payment to McDougal so that she "did not publicize damaging allegations" about Donald Trump "before the 2016 presidential election and thereby influence that election," according to the statement of facts. 

The document also cites Cohen’s federal guilty plea, which said Cohen worked at the direction of Trump to arrange payment for the two women, McDougal and Stormy Daniels, to stop stories that could be harmful to Trump. 

CNN reports

8:36am - Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg says they cannot "normalise serious criminal conduct".

Bragg held a press conference in New York to discuss the 34 charges filed against Trump.
"Under New York state law, it is a felony to falsify business records with intent to defraud and intent to conceal another crime. That is exactly what this case is about: 34 false statements made to cover up other crimes.

"These are felony crimes in New York State no matter who you are. We can not and will not normalise serious criminal conduct."

Bragg alleged Trump repeatedly made false statements on New York business records and caused others to make false statements.

He said Trump claimed he was paying Michael Cohen for legal services in 2016.
"This simply was not true", Bragg said.

Bragg argued his office was compelled to pursue the case against Trump regardless of the former president's reputation and resources.

"We today uphold our solemn responsibility to ensure that everyone stands equal before the law," Bragg said.

"No amount of money, no amount of power changes that enduring American principle."

Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg.
Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg. Photo credit: Getty Images

8:16am - Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is holding a news conference following former President Donald Trump's arraignment.

You can watch it on the Reuters livestream above. 

8:15am - Donald Trump has just boarded his private plane at LaGuardia Airport in New York.

Trump will return to Florida and deliver a speech from his Mar-a-Lago resort at 8:15pm on Tuesday (12:15pm NZ time on Wednesday), his office said.

It comes after the former US President pleaded not guilty to 34 criminal charges.

8:12am - The next in-person hearing date for former President Donald Trump’s case is set for December 4 in New York, CNN reports. 

8am - Speaking outside court after the arraignment, Trump's attorney Todd Blanche said his client is "frustrated" and "upset."

Blanche accused the prosecutor in this case of turning a "completely political issue" into a "political prosecution." 

"It's not a good day ... I don't expect this to happen in this country. You don't expect this to happen ... to somebody who was the president of the United States," Blanche said.

He referred to the indictment as "boilerplate" and claimed it "doesn't allege any federal crime and state crime that's been violated."

On the charges against Trump, Blanche said "we're going to fight it, fight it hard."

CNN reports 

7:54am - The New York attorney who brought the charges against Trump says he "repeatedly and fraudulently" falsified business records to conceal crimes

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg released a statement on Wednesday morning following Trump's court hearing.

"The People of the State of New York allege that Donald J. Trump repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal crimes that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election," Bragg said.

"Manhattan is home to the country’s most significant business market. We cannot allow New York businesses to manipulate their records to cover up criminal conduct.

"As the Statement of Facts describes, the trail of money and lies exposes a pattern that, the People allege, violates one of New York’s basic and fundamental business laws."

7:43am - The historic indictment against former President Donald Trump has been unsealed and is now public. 

Prosecutors alleged Trump was part of an unlawful plan to suppress negative information, including an illegal payment of $130,000 that was ordered by the defendant to suppress the negative information that would hurt his campaign. 

The reason he committed the crime of falsifying business records was in part to “promote his candidacy,” the indictment alleges.  

This is the first time Trump and his lawyers can fully examine the extent of the charges against him, and what prosecutors must prove at trial. 

The criminal charges stem from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation into hush-money payments, made during the 2016 presidential campaign, to women who claimed they had extramarital affairs with Trump, which he denies. 

Trump denies all wrongdoing and his lawyers have said they’ll fight to get the charges dropped.  

CNN reports 

7:40am - US President Joe Biden is continuing to keep silent on the Trump arrest in New York.

Biden, who has been meeting science and technology experts at the White House, didn't answer any questions from reporters when asked about his predecessor.

Biden "smiled and laughed" when asked if the case against Trump was "politically divisive", according to reports.

US President Joe Biden.
US President Joe Biden. Photo credit: Getty Images

7:35am - Newshub's US Correspondent Mitch McCann says the scenes outside the courthouse where Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty are "extraordinary".

McCann is in Manhattan and told AM it's all the city is talking about.

"What we have seen in the last 20 minutes has been quite frankly extraordinary. We have seen Donald Trump come out of the District Attorney's office surrounded by a number of security guards as he heads into the courtroom," McCann said.

"We have seen some still images that have just emerged of Donald Trump sitting in the courtroom surrounded by his lawyers. It was only two years ago Donald Trump was in the White House, now he is in the courthouse under arrest.

"But out on the streets here in Manhattan, we have seen some protesters, there are a number of people milling around, and there are hundreds of TV cameras and crews here at the moment. There is this feeling of anticipation for the former President to come back outside the courthouse again."

7:33am - Former President Donald Trump has left a Manhattan courtroom after his arraignment on Wednesday (NZ time)

He made no statement while leaving the courtroom. After leaving the courtroom, Trump left the building and got into his motorcade parked outside.

The former president pleaded not guilty to 34 counts, a source tells CNN.

CNN reports

7:17am - National Party leader Christopher Luxon says the Donald Trump court case is a "distraction" for US politics.

When asked by AM co-host Ryan Bridge if he had any words of advice for Trump, Luxon said "no, we talk about distractions in New Zealand politics, that is a massive distraction in US politics".

Christopher Luxon and former US President Donald Trump.
Christopher Luxon and former US President Donald Trump. Photo credit: AM / Getty Images

7:09am - Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty after being accused of over 30 felony counts of falsifying business records after an investigation into hush money paid to a porn star.

It's slowly being revealed what Trump has been charged with. The indictment - titled, People of the State of New York against Donald J. Trump, Indictment No. 71543-23 - was unsealed a few minutes ago, according to the BBC.

Trump has been charged with 34 felonies and pleaded not guilty in front of Judge Juan Merchan in the Manhattan criminal court on Wednesday morning (NZ time).

Donald Trump in a New York courtroom.
Donald Trump in a New York courtroom. Photo credit: CNN

7:02am - Reporting from Newshub's US Correspondent Mitch McCann:

Thousands of New Yorkers descended towards Chinatown in Manhattan this afternoon (local time) as America’s 45th President, Donald Trump was arraigned. Trump was processed and arrived in a courtroom frequented by the city’s criminals.

From early in the morning, both anti and pro-Trump protestors gathered in a nearby park hoping to catch a glimpse of the former President.

They were joined by the world’s media with hundreds of photographers and journalists lining the streets outside the courthouse on Center Street.

In the hours before Trump arrived reporters could be seen rushing around the park trying to catch a glimpse of any notable Republicans arriving to be part of the show. They included Republican Majorie Taylor Greene, and Congressman George Santos. Taylor Greene even brought a megaphone to support Trump, giving a short speech while chaos surrounded her.

Trump arrived much later than anticipated, around 1:30pm (local time), after a short motorcade journey from Trump Tower. Helicopters filmed from above, turning the journey into a remarkable spectacle viewed around the world.

Trump is expected to address the nation tonight (local time) from his Florida estate, where it’s likely he will reiterate his view he has been treated unfairly and the case should be moved from Manhattan.