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FAQ: What’s next for Donald Trump after his arraignment?

(NewsNation) — Former President Donald Trump was arraigned Tuesday on 34 first-degree felony charges of falsifying business records. Since the historic arraignment, more questions and answers have emerged about what comes next for the embattled former commander-in-chief who has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Here’s what we now know — and don’t know — about what comes next for the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges.

What is he charged with?

Trump pleaded not guilty to falsifying business records. He is specifically accused of “orchestrat(ing) a scheme” to influence the 2016 presidential election while he was a candidate by buying negative media coverage about himself to prevent it from being published.

These accusations were laid out in a 34-count grand jury indictment.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg repeatedly said prosecutors believe Trump “fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal crimes (and) damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.”

This “damaging information” includes allegations that Trump had an affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels and then reimbursed attorney Michael Cohen for paying her $130,000 in “hush money,” allegations that the former president has repeatedly denied.

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to violating federal campaign finance law by giving Daniels the money through a shell company that he set up. Prosecutors say Trump reimbursed Cohen with a series of monthly checks, from the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust and from his own bank account.

These checks, according to prosecutors, were processed by the Trump Organization. They were disguised as a payment for legal services rendered in 2017, the indictment said.

Cohen, also in 2016, arranged a $150,000 payment via the publisher of the National Enquirer to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, about a separate alleged affair, which Trump also said didn’t happen.

There were reports of mugshots and handcuffs — what is actually confirmed?

Trump was fingerprinted on Tuesday during his arraignment, but no mugshot was taken and he was not in handcuffs, despite being formally arrested.

However, Trump’s campaign released a fundraising email with a fake mugshot on it.

New York law does not require everyone who is booked to have a mugshot taken.

“They don’t have the authority to dispense with it,” former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Andrew Napolitano said.

This Trump “mugshot” Camp fundraising email just came through.

DISCLAIMER- that’s not a real mugshot picture

— Joe Khalil (@JoeKhalilTV) April 4, 2023

An attorney representing Trump in several civil matters argued on CNN that he shouldn’t need to take one.
“Mugshots are for people so that you recognize who they are,” Alina Habba said. “He’s the most recognized face in the world, let alone the country, right now. So there’s no need for that.”

Will he be held in custody?

Trump left the courthouse shortly after the arraignment to return to Florida, where he is expected to make remarks from his Mar-a-Lago estate. You can watch those remarks live at 8:15 p.m. ET here.

Laws in New York eliminated bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, The New York Times reported.

“In New York state, the rules are pretty clear on bail, especially when you have these crimes which are put into that pool of white collar crimes,” legal analyst Misty Marris said ahead of the arraignment. “Bail is not something that will be addressed today because he will be released on his own recognizance, and that is just the way that these types of cases are handled in New York for any defendant.”

While there is a possibility of bail for flight risks, this wasn’t the case for Trump.

“We don’t have somebody who’s going to be able to split,” Marris said.

When will Trump go to trial?

Trump’s defense team now has until Aug. 8 to file any or all pre-trial motions — and they’re expected to make multiple motions.

The court will make a decision on these motions by Dec. 4, meaning the trial date proposed by Bragg’s office isn’t until January 2024.

However, since the New York City court system is backed up for all defendants, Marris told NewsNation it’s likely the case won’t actually get heard until well beyond next year.

“I would expect his defense team to do what’s called waiving a speedy trial,” Marris said.

NewsNation political contributor George Will said a long wait for a trial isn’t just a legal strategy from Trump’s team, but a necessity. Legal questions like standing, the statute of limitations and the possibility of one or more of the charges being shifted from misdemeanors to federal felonies have to be answered, Will said.

“These are not trivial matters — this is the heart of due process,” he added.

Matthew Galluzzo, a former prosecutor in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, echoed these sentiments in an interview with NPR. He also said he doesn’t expect to see a settlement deal reached by the two parties.

“They’re not going to make him an offer that he would accept,” Galluzzo said. “And I think more than anything, he probably wants that public stage to play the victim, to have an audience.”

What’s going on with the gag order?

Marris said on NewsNation that while there’s no gag order now, one is possible.

NewsNation partner The Hill reported that Trump, on his social media platform Truth Social, has already lashed out at Bragg and the trial’s Judge Juan Merchan.  

Trump warned of “death and destruction” if he were charged, and called Merchan a “Trump Hating Judge.”

These attacks raise the possibility of Merchan issuing a gag order, New York legal experts told The Hill. A gag order would effectively prevent Trump and his attorneys from speaking publicly about the case, except in court filings and proceedings.

As The Hill points out, this is an uncommon, but not “unprecedented” move. Napolitano said on “Morning in America” that judges don’t like to impose gag orders because of the First Amendment.

“Donald Trump is innocent until proven guilty, and so there shouldn’t be any restraints on his ability to speak,” Napolitano said. “However, what judges fear and what prosecutors fear is when an articulate defendant or a defendant with a big megaphone, as in this case, will say things that will influence the jury pool.”

The NewsNation’s Katie Smith, Steph Whiteside and Steven Joachim, and The Associated Press, contributed to this report.

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