Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony charges related to alleged hush money payments after he became the first former US president to be indicted.

The case against him focuses on money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Mr Trump, in the weeks before the 2016 US election.

Tuesday’s indictment also detailed payments made to a former Playboy model and a doorman in an attempt to prevent damaging stories about Mr Trump being leaked.

What has Trump being charged with?

Manhattan District Attorney (DA) Alvin Bragg accused Mr Trump of making false records in his family real estate company’s books to hide funds paid to his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen to cover an alleged $130,000 (£104,000) hush money payment before the 2016 election to Ms Daniels.

Donald Trump addresses a rally in 2023
Donald Trump speaks to supporters at Mar-a-Lago hours after pleading not guilty in a Manhattan courtroom to 34 counts related to money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty)

Falsification of business records in New York is a misdemeanour, but is a felony, a more serious crime, when committed with intent to conceal another crime.

Mr Bragg said the scheme intended to cover up a violation of a New York state law making it illegal to conspire to “promote a candidacy by unlawful means”.

In 2018, Cohen was jailed after pleading guilty to federal campaign-finance charges related to the payments and said he acted on Mr Trump’s direction.

Documents from prosecutors also detail alleged payments in 2016 to a second woman matching the description of Karen McDougal, who claims she had a 10-month affair with Mr Trump, and a doorman at Trump Tower who said he had information about a child the former US president had out of wedlock.

Trump’s defence

Mr Trump has denied all the allegations and, addressing supporters at his Mar-a-Lago estate on Tuesday night, said the prosecution against him amounts to “massive election interference”.

He accused Manhattan DA Mr Bragg of charging him despite knowing “there was no case”.

A defiant Mr Trump, cheered on by wellwishers, railed against Justice Juan Merchan, claiming he was “a Trump-hating judge with a Trump-hating family”.

One of Mr Trump’s lawyers, Joe Tacopina, said that his legal team would “evaluate all our legal options and pursue every one most vigorously”.

He said: “The team will look at every, every potential issue that we will be able to challenge, and we will challenge.

“And, of course, I very much anticipate a motion to dismiss coming because there’s no law that fits this.”

Next court date

The next court date in the case against Mr Trump has been set as 4 December, with any trial likely to start in January next year.

But prosecutors and Mr Trump’s defence team are able to submit a series of motions, applications for the court to make a decision on specific issues, prior to a trial.

New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks after former U.S. President Donald Trump appeared at Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, after his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury following a probe into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, in New York City, U.S., April 4, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks after former US president Donald Trump appeared at Manhattan Criminal Courthouse. (Photo: Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Motions can be made to dismiss the charges, challenge specific pieces of evidence, or attempt to change the venue or dismiss a judge.

Mr Trump’s legal team are adamant they will challenge the charges against him within days, claiming the case against him is “ripe for motions”.

Defence lawyers usually have 45 days after arraignment to make their motions but Judge Juan Merchan could grant more time.

Could it get thrown out?

The prosecution now has 15 days to turn over all evidence to Mr Trump’s defence team.

Mr Trump’s lawyers have said they will do everything they can to throw the case out by filing motions to dismiss the case.

These motions, usually filed within 45 days of arraignment, are likely to challenge the legal sufficiency of the indictment.

Former President Donald Trump sits at the defense table with his defense team in a Manhattan court, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in New York. Trump is set to appear in a New York City courtroom on charges related to falsifying business records in a hush money investigation, the first president ever to be charged with a crime. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Former president Donald Trump sits at the defence table with his legal team in the Manhattan court (Photo: Seth Wenig/AP)

But it’s not known how long it will take to address all the motions filed by Mr Trump’s lawyers, or if there will even be a trial after they have been resolved.

Mr Trump’s team could also file a “Clayton motion” asking the court to dismiss the case against him not on its merits, but in the “interest of justice”.

As well a motion to dismiss the case, they have suggested moving the trial from Manhattan to nearby Staten Island.

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