April 3, 2023 Trump indictment news

By Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury, Amir Vera and Shania Shelton, CNN

Updated 2:12 p.m. ET, April 4, 2023
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9:54 a.m. ET, April 3, 2023

Trump attorney says there's no purpose in a mugshot: "He's the most recognized face in the world"

From CNN's Andrew Millman

Alina Habba.
Alina Habba. (CNN)

Alina Habba, an attorney representing former President Donald Trump in several civil matters, argued Trump shouldn't need to take a mugshot, telling CNN This Morning, "There's no need for theatrics."

Habba told host Don Lemon, “Mugshots are for people so that you recognize who they are. He’s the most recognized face in the world, let alone the country, right now, so there’s no need for that." 

Sources familiar with the preparations were uncertain as to whether there would be a mugshot.

Trump's attorney says she believes that the indictment will be unsealed "no matter what," and accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of leaking the number of counts in the indictment.

When pressed by host Don Lemon about the claim, Habba declared, “it’s not speculation.”

On Trump's social media posts attacking the judge in the case, Habba said, “We have many judges, frankly, and I’m before some of them, who have shown a venomous vitriol against President Trump that is like nothing we’ve ever seen in the state of New York.”

She also called Bragg a “woke DA who’s now bringing a misdemeanor stacking it and trying to make it a felony” and dismissed the looming indictment as “30-34 counts of garbage.” 

When asked about her role in searching Mar-a-Lago for documents, Habba said she wasn't looking for classified documents, adding, “I was looking for tax documents in another garbage case by [New York Attorney General] Leticia James.”

When pressed by Lemon about the accuracy of these claims, Habba responded, “I’m not in a deposition right now and I’m not going to continue this conversation.” She said her affidavit “is very public and I recommend you read it.”

“Yes, that’s not a secret. I testified to the grand jury,” she acknowledged. 

9:55 a.m. ET, April 3, 2023

Trump campaign says it raised more than $5 million in the 48 hours following the indictment

From CNN's Kristen Holmes

Former President Donald Trump arrives for a rally in Waco, Texas, on March 25.
Former President Donald Trump arrives for a rally in Waco, Texas, on March 25. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

The Trump campaign says it raised more than $5 million in the 48 hours after the former president's indictment.

“Poll after poll show this political persecution by the Manhattan DA has surged overwhelming support for President Trump,” campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement. “Over $5 million in donations and more than 16,000 volunteer signups since the announcement of this witch-hunt hoax are key indicators that Americans from all backgrounds are sick and tired of the weaponization of the justice system against President Trump and his supporters.”

CNN reported that Trump spent the weekend before his history-making arraignment playing golf, posting on social media, meeting with advisers, and calling and texting allies to tout the political positives of his recent indictment.

He disclosed fundraising numbers and internal poll numbers in these conversations, and vowed to fight the charges, according to more than half a dozen people who spoke with the former president or members of his inner circle this weekend.

Despite the initial shock of the indictment that caught Trump and his advisers “off-guard,” the former president has remained surprisingly calm and focused in the days ahead of his court appearance, according to the sources. Some believed he was compartmentalizing the situation, while others believed he was convinced the case against him was weak and would only help him politically.

9:29 a.m. ET, April 3, 2023

Majority of Americans approve of Trump indictment, new CNN poll shows

From CNN's Jennifer Agiesta

Protesters gather outside Trump Tower on Friday, March 31, in New York.
Protesters gather outside Trump Tower on Friday, March 31, in New York. (Bryan Woolston/AP)

Sixty percent of Americans approve of the indictment of former President Donald Trump, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS following the news that a New York grand jury voted to charge him in connection with hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

About three-quarters of Americans say politics played at least some role in the decision to indict Trump, including 52% who said it played a major role. 

Here's how views about the indictment break down by political affiliation:

  • Independents largely line up in support of the indictment — 62% approve of it and 38% disapprove.
  • Democrats are near universal in their support for the indictment — 94% approve, including 71% who strongly approve of the indictment.
  • Republicans are less unified in opposition — 79% disapprove, with 54% strongly disapproving.

While views on the indictment are split along party lines, the poll finds that majorities across major demographic divides all approve of the decision to indict the former president. That includes gender (62% of women, 58% of men), racial and ethnic groups (82% of Black adults, 71% of Hispanic adults, 51% of White adults), generational lines (69% under age 35; 62% age 35-49; 53% age 50-64; 54% 65 or older) and educational levels (68% with college degrees, 56% with some college or less). 

A supporter of former US President Donald Trump holds a flag that read "Trump Won" to show support near his Mar-a-Lago home on March 31 in Palm Beach, Florida.
A supporter of former US President Donald Trump holds a flag that read "Trump Won" to show support near his Mar-a-Lago home on March 31 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A scant 10% overall see Trump as blameless regarding payments made to Daniels, but Americans are divided about whether his actions were illegal or merely unethical. About 4 in 10 say he acted illegally (37%), 33% unethically but not illegally, and another 20% say they aren't sure. Only 8% of political independents say Trump did nothing wrong, and among the rest, they are mostly on board with the indictment even if they aren't already convinced Trump did something illegal.

The survey suggests that the indictment has not had a major effect on views of Trump personally. The poll finds his favorability rating at 34% favorable to 58% unfavorable, similar to his standing in a January CNN poll, in which 32% held a favorable view of the former president and 63% an unfavorable one. Among Republicans, 72% hold a favorable view in the new poll, similar to the 68% who felt that way in January. 

Note: The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS on March 31 and April 1 among a random national sample of 1,048 adults surveyed by text message after being recruited using probability-based methods. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.0 percentage points. It is larger for subgroups.

Correction: This post has been updated to reflect the correct percentage of independents who approve of the indictment of former President Donald Trump.

1:39 p.m. ET, April 3, 2023

Trump will be arraigned tomorrow. Here are key things to know about his expected court appearance. 

From CNN's Jack Forrest

 

Former US President Donald Trump attends a rally to support Republican candidates ahead of midterm elections in Dayton, Ohio, in 2022.
Former US President Donald Trump attends a rally to support Republican candidates ahead of midterm elections in Dayton, Ohio, in 2022. (Gaelen Morse/Reuters)

Former President Donald Trump is headed to New York this week for an expected arraignment on Tuesday after being indicted last week by a Manhattan grand jury. Here is what we know:

What will it look like and will Trump be handcuffed?

  • Trump is expected to leave Florida around noon ET on Monday, and land at New York’s LaGuardia Airport around 3 p.m. ET, according to a source familiar with his plans.
  • He will stay at Trump Tower Monday night, the source said.
  • The Secret Service, the New York Police Department and the court officers are coordinating security for Trump’s expected appearance. The Secret Service is scheduled to accompany Trump in the early afternoon to the district attorney’s office, which is in the same building as the courthouse.
  • Trump is expected to be brought to the courtroom by Tuesday afternoon, where the indictment will be unsealed and he will formally face the charges. All trials and other activity at the Manhattan courthouse are being halted before he is slated to arrive.
  • The former president will be booked by the investigators, which includes taking his fingerprints. Ordinarily, a mug shot would be taken. But sources familiar with the preparations were uncertain as to whether there would be a mugshot – because Trump’s appearance is widely known and authorities were concerned about the improper leaking of the photo, which would be a violation of state law.
  • Typically, after defendants are arrested, they are booked and held in cells near the courtroom before they are arraigned. But that won’t happen with Trump. He will almost certainly be released on his own recognizance. It is possible, though perhaps unlikely, that conditions could be set on his travel.
  • Trump is not expected to be handcuffed, as he will be surrounded by armed federal agents for his protection.
  • Ordinarily, a defendant who is released would walk out the front doors, but Secret Service will want to limit the time and space where Trump is in public. So instead, once the court hearing is over, Trump is expected to walk again through the public hallway and into the back corridors to the district attorney’s office, back to where his motorcade will be waiting.
  • He is expected to depart New York immediately after Tuesday’s arraignment to head back to Florida, the source said. He has scheduled an event that evening to speak publicly.

Will the arraignment be televised? Several media outlets, including CNN, have asked a New York judge to unseal the indictment and for permission to broadcast Trump’s expected appearance in the courtroom on Tuesday. If the judge does not grant the media outlets’ unsealing request, it is expected that the indictment will be made public when Trump appears in court.

Who’s the presiding judge? Judge Juan Merchan is no stranger to Trump’s orbit. Merchan, an acting New York Supreme Court justice, has sentenced Trump’s close confidant Allen Weisselberg to prison, presided over the Trump Organization tax fraud trial and overseen former adviser Steve Bannon’s criminal fraud case.

Merchan does not stand for disruptions or delays, attorneys who have appeared before him told CNN, and he’s known to maintain control of his courtroom even when his cases draw considerable attention. Trump attorney Timothy Parlatore said during an interview Friday on CNN that Merchan was “not easy” on him when he tried a case before him but that he will likely be fair.

How might Trump’s team fight the charges? Trump attorney Joe Tacopina told CNN’s Dana Bash Sunday that the former president will plead not guilty. His team “will look at every potential issue that we will be able to challenge, and we will challenge,” Tacopina said.

The Trump team’s court strategy could center around challenging the case because it may rely on business record entries that prosecutors tie to hush money payments to Daniels seven years ago, beyond the statute of limitations for a criminal case. Tacopina suggested in TV interviews Sunday the statute of limitations may have passed, and said the Trump businesses didn’t make false entries.

How is this affecting the Trump campaign? Trump’s team says it has raised more than $5 million dollars since he was indicted Thursday. Despite the initial shock of the indictment, the former president has remained surprisingly calm and focused in the days ahead of his court appearance, CNN’s Kristen Holmes reported.

CNN’s John Miller, Jeremy Herb, Katelyn Polantz, Tierney Sneed, Sydney Kashiwagi, Kristen Holmes, Holmes Lybrand, Hannah Rabinowitz, Paula Reid, Alayna Treene, Gregory Clary and Devan Cole contributed to this report.

11:25 a.m. ET, April 3, 2023

Analysis: America faces a fateful moment ahead of Trump arraignment

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

Then-President Donald Trump exits the Oval Office and walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in 2020.
Then-President Donald Trump exits the Oval Office and walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Donald Trump will take America through yet another grave and unprecedented national drama this week when he becomes the first ex-president to appear in court charged with a crime.

The 45th president is expected to turn himself in on Tuesday in Manhattan, the stage where he built his legend as a brash popular culture figure and real estate magnate but which could now, in the case of “The People of the State of New York against Donald J. Trump,” engineer his downfall.

In what will be extraordinary scenes, Trump will return to New York after a grand jury voted to indict him last week in a case involving a hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. His appearance, accompanied by Secret Service agents, will come as he fires up his 2024 campaign for the White House. Trump plans to make a make a speech when he gets back to Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday night in which he will seek to leverage political advantage out of a perilous, personal legal crisis.

For many Americans who disdain Trump and his riotous single term, the case could be a sign that, finally, he is being called to account for his rule-crushing behavior and that everyone – even former presidents – are equal under the law. But Trump, using his bond with his most loyal supporters, is claiming the prosecution is a case of naked political persecution from District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, that’s designed to thwart the possibility of a presidential comeback. According to fundraising numbers that his campaign is touting, Trump is getting a political boost from the attention.

Yet a criminal indictment takes Trump into unique political territory. And however the case turns out, his return to the spotlight in these circumstances is another twist in an exhausting saga featuring a double impeachment, false claims of a stolen election, and a mob attack on the US Congress during an unruly four-year presidency that pushed the nation to the point of exhaustion and deepened its polarization.

Some legal experts, without having seen the still-sealed indictment, have questioned whether a case that appears to revolve around infringements of accounting practices and possible campaign finance violations is sufficiently serious to merit the historical step of indicting an ex-president who is already running again.

At the same time, it is ultimately Trump’s norm-busting behavior that pushed the country to this somber moment. He’s also being investigated over efforts to overturn the 2020 election result in Georgia, and by a special counsel probing his hoarding of classified documents and conduct in the run up to January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. In several of these cases, Trump could face even more serious legal problems than in the Stormy Daniels matter, but that case is the only one so far that has yielded an indictment.

Trump has denied wrongdoing in all of the cases. But once more, America’s political and legal systems, under a near-constant stress test since he came down the escalator in Trump Tower to launch his campaign in 2015, will be put under enormous pressure that is likely to only deepen the country’s internal estrangement.

9:02 a.m. ET, April 3, 2023

A judge is expected to issue an order Monday on camera access for Trump's Tuesday arraignment

From CNN's Tierney Sneed

A New York police officer sets up a fence outside the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on March 22.
A New York police officer sets up a fence outside the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on March 22. (Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post/Getty Images)

Several media outlets, including CNN, have asked a New York judge to unseal the grand jury indictment against former President Donald Trump. The news organizations are also asking for permission to broadcast Trump’s expected appearance in a Manhattan courtroom Tuesday for his arraignment on the charges.

In their letter Friday seeking to make the indictment public, the media outlets told Judge Juan Merchan – who is slated to preside over the historic proceedings – that “the right of access is at its zenith when applied to the first ever indictment of a former U.S. president.”

The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal are among the outlets making the request.

If the judge does not grant the media outlets’ unsealing request, it is expected that the indictment will be made public when Trump appears in court Tuesday.

Merchan is expected to issue an order Monday on camera access in the courtroom for the arraignment. On Sunday, he invited lawyers for Trump and for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to submit by 1 p.m. Monday any concerns or objections to the media outlets’ request to broadcast the arraignment.

With their request to broadcast those proceedings, the media outlets told the court that “the gravity of this proceeding – the unprecedented and historic arraignment of a former U.S. President – and, consequently, the need for the broadest possible public access, cannot be overstated.”

The news organizations are asking for a “limited number of photographers, videographers, and radio journalists to be present at the arraignment,” and said in the letter that they are making “this limited request for audio-visual coverage in order to ensure that the operations of the Court will not be disrupted in any way.”

1:40 p.m. ET, April 3, 2023

This is the judge who will preside over Trump's criminal arraignment on Tuesday

From CNN's Sydney Kashiwagi

In this courtroom sketch, Judge Juan Merchan presides during the Trump Organization's criminal tax trial in Manhattan Criminal Court on November 15, 2022.
In this courtroom sketch, Judge Juan Merchan presides during the Trump Organization's criminal tax trial in Manhattan Criminal Court on November 15, 2022. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

When Donald Trump enters a New York courtroom Tuesday, he’ll face a seasoned judge who is no stranger to the former president’s orbit.

Acting New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan has sentenced Trump’s close confidant Allen Weisselberg to prison, presided over the Trump Organization tax fraud trial and overseen former adviser Steve Bannon’s criminal fraud case.

But Trump’s historic arraignment can be viewed as Merchan’s most high-profile case to date, even after a long career atop the state-level trial court.

Merchan has been described by observers as a “tough” judge, yet one who is fair, no matter who is before him.

Here's more background on the justice whose courtroom will soon be thrust into the spotlight:

Born in Bogota, Colombia, Merchan emigrated to the United States at the age of six and grew up in the New York City neighborhood of Jackson Heights, Queens, according to a New York Times profile of the judge. He was the first in his family to go to college.

Merchan initially studied business at Baruch College in New York. He dropped out of school to go work, only to return several years later to finish school so that he could get his law degree, the Times reported.

He eventually received his law degree from Hofstra University.

Attorneys who have appeared before him told CNN that Merchan does not stand for disruptions or delays, and he’s known to maintain control of his courtroom even when his cases draw considerable attention.

Trump attorney Timothy Parlatore said during an interview Friday on CNN that Merchan was “not easy” on him when he tried a case before him, but said the judge likely will be fair.

“I’ve tried a case in front of him before. He could be tough. I don’t think it’s necessarily going to be something that’s going to change his ability to evaluate the facts and the law in this case,” Parlatore said.

Read more here.

7:49 a.m. ET, April 3, 2023

Trump will deliver remarks at Mar-a-Lago Tuesday night after arraignment, his campaign says

From CNN’s Kristen Holmes

A secret service agent stands with security guards outside of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate on Saturday, April 1, in Palm Beach, Florida.
A secret service agent stands with security guards outside of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate on Saturday, April 1, in Palm Beach, Florida. (Lynn Sladky/AP)

Former President Donald Trump will deliver remarks at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida when he returns from his arraignment Tuesday night, according to a news release from his campaign.

Trump is expected to appear in court Tuesday afternoon in Manhattan, sources tell CNN.

His attorney said the former president will voluntarily surrender to New York law enforcement and plans to mount legal challenges.

8:38 a.m. ET, April 3, 2023

Trump will arrive in New York on Monday ahead of Tuesday's arraignment

From CNN's Kristen Holmes

Former President Donald Trump is expected leave Florida around noon ET on Monday and land at La Guardia Airport in New York around 3 p.m. ET.

The former president will stay at the Trump Tower Monday night.

Immediately after his arraignment scheduled for Tuesday, he is expected to depart New York and head back to Florida, where he will deliver remarks at his Mar-a-Lago home, according to a source familiar with the plans. 

A small group of aides and advisers, including campaign heads Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita, are expected to travel with Trump to New York Monday afternoon ahead of his arraignment, according to multiple sources familiar with the plans.