Former President Donald Trump pleads not guilty in historic indictment


A New York grand jury voted to indict the former United States president, Donald J. Trump, on 34 counts of felony falsification of business records on March 30, 2023. These unprecedented proceedings led to Trump’s appearance before the Manhattan district court in an arraignment held on April 4. Trump pled not guilty to all charges placed against him. As of April 5, Trump has returned to his Florida residency, as all parties involved wait for pretrial hearings to be held.

Former United States President Donald Trump, the first former president to face charges, faces a “34-count felony indictment” for alleged “falsified New York business records” in order to hide damaging information before the 2016 presidential election, according to a report by NPR.

A timeline explaining the continuity of Trump’s legal proceedings, and how it may impact a theoretical spot on the 2024 presidential ticket. (NALEIAH MILLER/ Ethic News Photo)

So far, Trump has pleaded not guilty to all 34 counts, and has been released from court and allowed to fly back to his home in Florida. A gag order has not been put in place, nor was he required to post bail, and as a result, Trump has heavily criticized the trial in both live speeches and online, through the social media platform, “Truth Social.”

Much misinformation has been spread about what some of the specific legal terms are, causing confusion and disarray as to what the truth of former president Trump’s proceedings actually entail. One major term that has been victim of this misinformation is indictment, which Oxford Dictionary defines as, “A formal charge or accusation of a serious crime.” In this case, Trump’s alleged business fraud being the crime he is being called to answer for. Another major term that has had widespread confusion is arraignment, which according to Oxford Dictionary, is, “Call or bring (someone) before court to answer a criminal charge.” Meaning, that for Trump, it was the purpose of his bringing to the Manhattan district courthouse.

The main reason for Trump’s indictment, and later arraignment, was due to his behavior regarding an extramarital affair he had with actress Stormy Daniels. According to reports from the BBC, in denying the affair with Daniels, $130,000 was transferred to her by Trump’s lawyer in an attempt to silence the actress, 12 days preceding the 2016 Presidential election. 

The unprecedented nature of the indictment is wide reaching, prompting reactions from all sides. For example, in Redlands, on April 4, 2023, some of the community came together to support the former president. The group gathered near the intersection of Lugonia Avenue and Alabama Street, near the Redlands Citrus Plaza shopping center. This created a disruption in traffic flow and, eventually, the police were called on the supporters. The protesters refused to leave when confronted by police, yet did not continue their earlier disturbances.

Andrew Winter, a junior at Redlands High School, states, “President Trump is in quite a predicament, especially being charged with a plethora of felonies. This record-breaking news astounds me, and while I’m not too educated on the situation, it’s making history and will shape the upcoming election greatly.”

Citrus Valley High School office secretary, Melanie Myer says, “I believe if you do something wrong you should pay for it.” 

A photograph of Trump surrounded by headlines and articles regarding his current legal struggles. (MIA CALIVA/ Ethic News Photo)

Trump’s arraignment will greatly affect the next presidential election in 2024. According to Nathan L. Gonzales, an elections analyst for the political news site, Roll Call,  “Even if legal problems don’t hinder former President Donald Trump’s political comeback attempt, they could hurt other Republican candidates on the ballot in 2024.” 

Gonzales goes on to explain that Trump’s voter base may still believe that he’s innocent and fit for being elected as president, but there’s a strong chance that they will want someone else to represent the Republicans and that they will take the next presidential election, as opposed to President Biden.

If former President Donald Trump were to be convicted “it is unclear, as of now” if he would face jail time. This is also partly due to the fact that it is uncertain if Judge Juan Merchan and the prosecutors would impose any prison time if Trump were to be convicted. Given the legal complexities of the allegations a conviction is not a sure outcome and it would also take the prosecutors’ reliance on a key witness.

Much uncertainty has been felt throughout these proceedings, and as time has progressed, it seems as though Trump has decided to not comment too heavily on his legal proceedings, as many have advised him. Moving forward, it will remain to be seen how impactful these events will be on the upcoming election in 2024.

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