Trump and his lawyers wake up fighting after his darkest day

Trump calls to DEFUND the DOJ and his lawyers wake up fighting after his darkest day: Ex-President calls indictment ‘morally disgusting’ – while attorney Joe Tacopina calls it a ‘relief’ because there is ‘NO new evidence’

  • Donald Trump starts Wednesday on the attack 
  • ‘Almost every legal and political analyst has said that the unfair and morally disgusting Indictment filed against me,’ Trump railed
  • His legal team argued charges are a ‘relief’ as they show no new evidence 

Donald Trump and his legal team started Wednesday in attack mode. The former president blasted the indictment against him as ‘morally disgusting’ and called on the Justice Department to be defunded. 

Trump was off to a fighting start after one of his darkest days, when he became the first former president in U.S. history to be indicted and had to face something he had tried long to avoid: the inside of a courtroom.

The charges against him are related to a $30,000 payoff to a doorman trying to sell information about a child that Trump allegedly fathered out of wedlock, $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, and a $130,000 payment to porn star Daniels.

Trump also railed against the Justice Department, which appointed a special counsel to investigate the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago. 

Defiance and defensiveness are the cornerstones of any Trump strategy – tactics he has used throughout his business career, his two presidential runs, and his time in the White House.

Donald Trump started his Wednesday on the attack after being arraigned in a Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday (above)

He used that strategy after the indictment, when he spoke to supporters at Mar-a-Lago, using the safe space of his private club and MAGA faithful to rail against New York Judge Juan Merchan and Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg.

Trump kept up the criticism on Wednesday morning, taking to his Truth Social platform to call on the Justice Department and FBI to be defunded. 

And he argued the statute of limitations has expired on the New York case, which involves a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. 

‘Almost every legal and political analyst has said that the unfair and morally disgusting Indictment filed against me yesterday has NO MERIT, and is not even a case. There was no crime and, anyway, the Statute of Limitations has been violated by many years,’ Trump wrote.

During his speech on Tuesday night, Trump focused on the other legal investigations into him, including two separate cases by the Justice Department: one related to the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago and a second on his actions to try and reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

The former president called on his fellow Republicans to defund the federal agencies behind the probe. But GOP lawmakers don’t have enough votes in Congress to make that happen. 


Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina called the charges against the former president a ‘zombie case’

Meanwhile, Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina was on NBC’s Today Show Wednesday morning to slam the New York indictment as a ‘zombie case.’

‘The indictment did not list what these charges are. These false business record entries, which are not false, are misdemeanor counts. Statute of limitations is long gone,’ he said.

‘This is just rehashing a zombie case,’ he added. 

Tacopina has long been the face of Trump’s defense in television interviews. He mimics the former president’s style – tough talk, snappy language and going on the attack. 

He argued the case would be dismissed before it made it to a jury.

‘We’re not going to get to a jury,’ Tacopina said. ‘I think this case is going to fall on its merits, on legal challenges well before we get to a jury.’

In fact, he noted, the actual indictment was a relief as it has ‘no new evidence.’

‘It was a little disappointing, a little bit of a relief quite frankly to see that indictment, but we’re ready to move,’ he said. 

The statute of limitations argument being tried by Trump and his team may not work as it does not count the time a defendant spends outside New York state. Trump lived in Washington, D.C., while he was president and has lived in Florida since leaving office in 2021. 

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg listed 34 charges against Trump

Dino Sajudin, a former Trump doorman, claimed the president had a love child and was paid hush money.

Trump allegedly paid $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep quiet about an affair – which he denies.

Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels – the case is tied to $130,000 hush money payments made to Daniels

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his prosecutors unveiled their charges against Trump in court on Tuesday.

The indictment listed 34 counts of bookkeeping fraud related to Trump’s reimbursement in 2017 to his former lawyer Michael Cohen. Just before the 2016 election, Cohen made a $130,000 hush payment to Daniels, who said she and Trump had an extramarital affair. 

Trump has denied the affair and any legal wrongdoing. 

The payments to Cohen were listed as legal fees. 

In New York, the falsification of business records on its own is a misdemeanor, which is punishable by a sentence of less than one year. It is considered a felony punishable by up to four years in prison if it is done to conceal or further other crimes.

Prosecutors claim the former president falsified business records partly for a plan to deceive state tax authorities and help him win the presidential election.

They brought up meetings the Trump team had with David Pecker, the former CEO of American Media – the parent company of the National Enquirer – about investigations the tabloid was conducting into a claim that Trump fathered a child out of wedlock and had an affair with a Playboy playmate. 

The Enquirer paid $30,000 to Dino Sajudin, a former Trump Tower doorman, who claimed that Trump fathered a child out of wedlock. The tabloid later determined that was not true.

The Enquirer then made another payment to Karen McDougal, Playboy’s playmate of the year in 1998. She wanted to sell her story of an affair with Trump during the 2016 campaign. The tabloid paid her $150,000 for rights to her story and then suppressed it — a practice known as ‘catch and kill.’

‘It’s not just about one payment,’ Bragg said at a press conference after the hearing. 

‘It is 34 business records – 34 false statements and business records. They were concealing criminal conduct.’

All together, the charges – falsifying business records in the first degree – carry a maximum sentence of more than 100 years in prison under New York law. Even if convicted on all charges, it’s unlikely Trump would be sentenced to that much time. Each charge is a low-level felony with a maximum of four years in prison for each count.

There was no formal conspiracy charge, but the state of facts released by prosecutors describes how Trump ‘orchestrated a scheme’ with others ‘to influence the 2016 presidential election by identifying and purchasing negative information about him to suppress its publication and benefit the Defendant’s electoral prospects.’ 

During the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Christopher Conroy argued the payments were part of ‘an unlawful plan to identify and suppress negative information that could have undermined’ Trump’s presidential campaign.

But the Trump team has argued that the payments weren’t tied to the campaign as it was the former president’s money. They also could argue the payments were made simply to avoid embarrassment or because Trump didn’t want his family to hear about the allegations of an affair.

‘The prosecutor wants a story and a theory that the jury is going to find compelling and moving. ‘ Cheryl Bader, an associate professor at the Fordham University School of Law, told The Washington Post that technical violations and false records are not that. ‘So the prosecutor is going to have to show that the real underlying story is about how Trump deceived the American public to get elected.’ 

And Jeremy Saland, a former member of the Manhattan district attorney’s office, told Reuters that prosecutors know they ‘have a very long road ahead with these charges’ as they will have to prove that Trump intended to break election law even though he is not criminally charged with doing so.

During Tuesday’s hearing, which lasted about an hour, Trump sat with his defense team at a table before the judge with a dour look on his face and his hands folded on his lap.

He said less than a dozen words, and when the judge asked him his plea, he responded: ‘Not guilty.’

Crowds of cheering people watch Trump’s speech after his arraignment 

What are Trump’s ‘catch and kill’ charges? 

Donald Trump pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to 34 counts of falsifying business records as he faced a New York judge – and became the first President of the United States to be arraigned and charged with a crime.

Based on prosecutor statements and a statement of facts, the case appears to involve three different payments, two of which involve the publisher of National Enquirer magazine and one of which involves a $130,000 hush-money payment that his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to Daniels in the final days of the 2016 campaign. 

The first involved the Enquirer paying $30,000 to Dino Sajudin, a former Trump Tower doorman, who claimed that Trump fathered a child out of wedlock. The tabloid later determined that was not true.

The Enquirer then made another payment to Karen McDougal, Playboy’s playmate of the year in 1998. She wanted to sell her story of an affair with Trump during the 2016 campaign. The tabloid paid her $150,000 for rights to her story and then suppressed it — a practice known as ‘catch and kill.’

The third involves the payment to Daniels. 

Cohen said he made the payment at Trump’s direction to ensure Daniels would not go public with her story of a sexual encounter with the married Trump. 

Trump reimbursed Cohen while he was president and prosecutors said that is when the fraud accord. Trump’s company falsely classified the repayment to Cohen as legal expenses but prosecutors say there were no such expenses. 

The alleged affair with Daniels happened in 2006, long before Trump entered politics, and shortly after his wife Melania gave birth to their son Barron. 

Trump denies both affairs with both McDougal and Daniels. He also denies any legal wrongdoing.

The former president, meanwhile, made it clear he would fight the charges against him.

On Tuesday night, he used his speech at Mar-a-Lago to go after Judge Juan Merchan’s family and call Alvin Bragg a ‘criminal.’

In a burst of fury during his 25-minute remarks to a packed crowd of family and supporters at Mar-a-Lago, Trump let his frustration with the case shine through.

He slammed his legal opposition, despite a warning from Merchan to use his words carefully in order to avoid a gag order.

The former president described his foes as a ‘Trump-hating judge with a Trump-hating wife and a family whose daughter worked for Kamala Harris,’ which drew groans from the crowd.

Trump also said the real criminal in the case is Bragg, accusing him of leaking grand jury information.

‘The criminal is the district attorney because he illegally leaked massive amounts of Grand Jury information for which he should be prosecuted, or at a minimum he should resign,’ he said, to cheers.

There were some leaks about how many charges Trump would face and related to what matters – but the indictment remained sealed until the former president was officially charged on Tuesday.

Trump was told he was free to speak – but with some caution about what he could say.

Merchan did not slap a gag order on Trump – as the former president’s lawyers feared may happen – but the judge warned that he could hand down a gag order against the ex-president if he makes social media posts inciting violence.

A gag order would prevent Trump and his legal team from discussing the case publicly, extending to the defendant’s favorite form of communicating with his base – social media.

It’s unclear if Trump skirted that line in his remarks on Tuesday evening.

He went after Judge Merchan’s daughter and Bragg’s wife in his attacks. 

Loren Merchan, the judge’s 34-year-old daughter, is partner and president of Authentic Campaigns, a progressive digital firm, and worked on several high-profile Democratic campaigns – including for President Joe Biden.

Loren worked as the director of digital for Kamala Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign from February 2019 until December of the same year, according to her LinkedIn.

Merchan’s firm, Authentic, continued working for Harris and then-candidate Joe Biden after Harris ended her unsuccessful presidential campaign and joined Biden’s ticket.

She concluded her work with the campaign to move to fill the same role at Authentic Campaigns’ progressive digital strategies firm. 

She climbed the ladder over five years at the firm and is now partner, president and COO of Authentic Campaigns.

Bragg’s wife Jamila Ponton Bragg had been active on Twitter until recently, posting derisive tweets about Trump. She locked her account after the former president targeted her.

In his remarks, Trump tore into the investigations against him, calling them an ‘insult to our country.’ He lashed out at prosecutors investigating him and complained about the probes he faces. 

‘I never thought anything like this could happen in America. The only crime that I’ve committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it,’ he said.

His focus was not as much on the crimes he was indicted for on Tuesday but on every other investigation and alleged wrong-doing he has faced since he entered politics. 

The former president was supported by his children and their partners – but not by his wife. Eric and Lara Trump are pictured far left; Tiffany Trump and her husband Michael Boulos, are seen to the right. Don Jr and his fiancee Kimberly Guilfoyle are in the center of the group

Manhattan Judge Juan Manuel Merchan and his daughter, Loren Merchan, 34, who works for progressive digital strategies firm Authentic Campaigns

A court sketch of Donald Trump on Tuesday

Trump arrives before delivering remarks at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida

Justice Juan Merchan speaks during Tuesday’s arraignment

Trump, 76, went through a litany of crimes he claims have been committed against him, including both impeachments; his false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him; that the government spied on his 2016 presidential campaign; the FISA warrants against his advisers; and investigations into reports Russia tried to influence the election in his favor.

He attacked Bragg, saying the Manhattan District Attorney wanted to get him at ‘any cost and this before he knew anything about me.’ 

Read DA’S damning Trump dossier in FULL 

Trump rambled between topics during his 25-minute speech, moving from his presidential campaign talking points, his accomplishments in the White House and what he says President Joe Biden did to harm America.

He abruptly ended his remarks after 25 minutes – a short speech by his standards – after spending much of his time complaining about the investigations he still faces.

He repeated his argument he is the victim of the weaponization of the legal system and under political attacks from Democrats who don’t want to see him return to the White House.

‘Now they have really stepped up their efforts by indicting the 45th President of the United States,’ he said, as the crowd booed in response.

And he slammed the other investigations into his actions – including the state of Georgia’s examination of whether he and his supporters tried to illegally overturn the election results there. 

He also condemned a federal investigation into the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago.

His focus on those two cases could be an indication of the legal fights he is most concerned about. 

Some experts see the New York case as the weakest of all those Trump faces. 

Trump launched a long, detailed defense of why he thinks he committed no crime by having his White House records at his Florida home. The Presidential Records Act says all material from a presidential administration is the federal government’s property and must be turned over to the National Archives. 

‘There is no criminality under the Presidential Records Act,’ he said. 

‘That is not what it’s all about. We were negotiating in very good faith, a proper way in order to return some or all of the documents that I openly, and in very plain sight, brought with me to Mar-a-Lago from our beautiful White House just as virtually every other president has done in the past.’

He condemned the August raid that revealed he had more documents on hand, despite a subpoena from the Justice Department to return all the material he had with him at his Florida home.

Much of his ire was focused on President Biden. 

Trump is running for another term in the White House but first must win the Republican presidential primary before he can face off against Biden. 

Trump claimed other presidents, from Joe Biden to Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter, also took documents. Biden was revealed to have classified documents in his possession, but no other former president has.

He said the charges against him in that case ‘has absolutely nothing to do with openly taking boxes of documents and mostly clothing and other things to my home, which President Obama has done.’

Donald Trump walks into the Mar-a-Lago ballroom, surrounded by security

Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle at Mar-a-Lago to support the former president

Eric Trump and Lara Trump joined the supporters at Mar-a-Lago

Tiffany Trump and her husband, Michael Boulos at Mar-a-Lago

The former president claimed Biden had more classified documents than he did and committed a worse crime. 

Biden’s lawyers say they turned over the classified material as soon as it was discovered.

With no proof, Trump claimed that Biden still has documents in his possession. 

‘He has 1,850 boxes in Delaware, which he is refusing to give up,’ Trump said of Biden. 

There is no evidence of this, and the Justice Department has searched both of Biden’s Delaware homes, saying no more documents are there.

‘As President, I have the right to declassify documents and the process is automatic. If I take them with me, it’s automatic. Declassified,’ Trump claimed, which is false.

He pointed out that Biden’s classified documents date back to when he was vice president. 

‘He had absolutely no right to declassify as vice president. He doesn’t come under the non criminal Presidential Records Act. He comes under the very criminal Federal Records Act. 

‘Unfortunately for him, but it’s not going to matter because they don’t follow the law, which has very severe penalties. He had classified documents that he took while he was a senator which is absolutely inexcusable,’ he said.

Trump mentioned the members of his family – those who were there and those who weren’t – as he thanked them for their support. 

Those included Donald Trump Jr. and his fiancee Kimberly Guilfoyle; Eric Trump and his wife Lara; and Tiffany Trump and her husband , Michael Boulos.

‘I have a son here who has done a great job, and I have another son here has done a great job,’ the former president said, referring to Don Jr. and Eric.

‘And Ivanka,’ he added. 

‘And Barron will be great someday – he’s tall, and he’s smart, but I have a great family and they’ve done a fantastic job and we appreciate it very much. They’ve gone through a lot.’

Trump faces other possible indictments: the Justice Department is investigating him on two separate cases: the discovery of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home and attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. 

Georgia is also examining Trump’s attempts to overturn the election results there.

The only other U.S. president charged with a crime was Ulysses S. Grant, arrested in 1872 for speeding down Washington, D.C. streets in his horse and buggy. 

He was taken to jail and paid a $20 fine.

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