Former American president Donald Trump was charged with 34 felony counts for falsifying business records, all of which are linked to his alleged role in making hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
On April 4, the 76-year-old politician, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, spoke to reporters in Florida after his New York prosecution stating:
"I never thought anything like this could happen in America. The only crime that I've committed has been to fearlessly defend our nation against those who seek to destroy it.”
However, during his arraignment, one of the prosecutors, Chris Conroy, accused the two-time impeached president of setting up a broader scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election by suppressing potentially harming stories about his reputation.
“The defendant, Donald J. Trump, falsified New York business records in order to conceal an illegal conspiracy to undermine the integrity of the 2016 presidential election.”
Donald Trump is most likely to be sentenced to probation if convicted
Donald Trump's recent charges date back to a 2016 hush-money payment of $130,000 made to p*rn star Stormy Daniels by his fixer Michael D. Cohen in the concluding days of the 2016 presidential campaign. The BBC reports that the Statement of Facts noted on the case:
"The defendant DONALD J. TRUMP repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election."
As per Cohen, he made the payment on Trump's orders and that suppressed her story of a rendezvous she had with the former American president. Prosecutors claim that Donald Trump repaid Cohen once he became president, which is when the fraud began.
As per internal records, the payment to Cohen was listed as attorney expenses, based on a retainer deal. But the investigators say that there were no such costs and that the fee deal was also made up. The prosecution's case stated:
"The payment records, kept and maintained by the Trump Organization, were false New York business records. In truth, there was no retainer agreement, and Lawyer A was not being paid for legal services rendered in 2017. The Defendant caused his entities' business records to be falsified to disguise his and others' criminal conduct."
Donald Trump has been charged with 34 felony counts but this does not mean he will be facing trial for multiple crimes. Each charge reflects a different incident of fraud under the same New York law.
The 34 felony counts include 11 involving cheques, 11 surrounding the monthly invoices submitted by Michael D. Cohen to the company, and 12 involving logs entered in Trump's general trust ledger.
Donald Trump is charged with the lowest level of felony offenses in New York. They bear a four-year sentence per count. According to a report in the New York Times, Trump is more likely to receive probation if convicted.