Courtroom sketch by Jane Rosenberg for @reuterspictures
By Paul Blythe
Former President Donald Trump was arrested, booked and arraigned Tuesday on 34 New York felony counts of falsifying business records with the intent to defraud and to conceal another crime.
Trump himself pleaded not guilty to the counts rather than have his attorneys voice the plea. Otherwise, he was quiet before, during and immediately after the hearing, at least when he was in the public eye. Despite his camp saying he intended to speak to the media before or after he entered the Manhattan courtroom, he arrived at the courthouse for processing at 1:23 p.m. and was led by New York police directly into the courtroom at 2:30 p.m. and directly out at 3:25 p.m. without a peep.
By 3:28 p.m., his motorcade was on the road to Laguardia Airport, and as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg started to speak at 4:12 p.m., Trump's self-dubbed Trump Force 1 was taxiing on the Laguardia tarmac.
The only part of the afternoon that seemed to take longer than expected was the arraignment itself. Expected to last as little as 15 minutes, it lasted 55 minutes but seemed even longer for those of us not in the courtroom and forced to endure the news networks' speculation of what was going on in the room, since no television cameras or electronic devices were allowed to operate inside the courtroom during the hearing.
CNN and MSNBC Reporters later explained that the prosecutors complained about a Trump social media post that showed a photo of Trump holding a baseball bat superimposed next to a photo of Bragg's head and asked New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan to warn Trump not to make statements in public or on social media that would incite violence. Trump's lawyers said the ex-president was frustrated by the indictment, but the Merchan said he didn't think the threatening social media post was justified by frustration. The reporters said the judge did not impose a gag order, but did warn both sides to be careful about what they said or posted.