Call it the Perp Walk of the Century.
Donald Trump made history on Tuesday by becoming the first former US president to face criminal charges, in relation to an alleged $130,000 hush money payment allegedly made to adult film performer Stormy Daniels days before his 2016 election victory.
Shortly after 10 a.m. PT, Trump, 76, emerged from his residence and headquarters at Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan. He clenched his right fist in a defiant gesture, then waved to the assembled crowd and pressed; a Trump Tower doorman in a tuxedo stood behind him, watching in disbelief.
Trump then boarded a waiting vehicle and, accompanied by an armada of black Chevrolet SUVs and NYPD police cars, began the 4-mile trip downtown to the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building at 100 Center St.
In the hours leading up to his appearance, hundreds of protesters, both for and against Trump, and spectators had gathered in a park across the street from the courthouse — certainly not the first media frenzy to erupt around the former reality TV star, but one with new fraught implications as Trump faces more than two dozen felony charges, including the falsification of corporate records.
Earlier in the day, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene – a vocal ally of Trump whose profile was posted on Sunday 60 minutes sparked calls to boycott the venerable CBS news program — gave a speech in that park, her words largely drowned out by hooting and chanting led by anti-Trump protesters.
“Heading to Lower Manhattan, the courthouse,” Trump wrote in a post on Truth Social, a Trump Media-owned social media platform founded in 2021. Can’t believe this is happening in America. MAGA!”
Surrounded by a phalanx of Secret Service agents, Trump emerged from his vehicle at 1:23 p.m. and disappeared into the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to be arrested and processed on the building’s seventh floor. According to media reports, he was then electronically fingerprinted, but he was not given a mug shot, nor was he placed in a holding cell before facing a judge to face charges.
At 11:30 a.m. PT, a sullen-faced Trump emerged from the swinging doors to appear before Judge Juan Merchan, 61, a 15-year veteran of the court overseeing the case. Trump had probably seen the contents of the indictment against him for the first time.
Mercan also presided over a 2022 tax fraud case against the Trump Organization that resulted in two corporate entities owned by Trump being found guilty of 17 counts of tax fraud and falsifying corporate records and sentenced to pay the maximum fine of $1.61 million. Former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg was sentenced to five months by Merchan for his crimes related to the case.
Trump made no comments to reporters, as some had expected, as he entered the courtroom, where only still cameras were allowed. Electronic devices such as smartphones were also ordered off-limits. Inside, Trump faced the 34 charges in the recently unsealed indictment, as described by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, 49, who is leading the investigation. Trump pleaded not guilty.
More to come.