The immediate past President of the United States, Donald Trump, on Tuesday, pleaded not guilty to 34 criminal charges stemming from hush money allegedly paid to a porn star before the 2016 election, AFP reports.
The 76-year-old Republican became the first American president to be arrested on criminal charges when he entered the historic court hearing in New York.
With a stern glare, Trump was seen making his way into the courtroom in Manhattan without saying a word to waiting press, although he was expected to speak at length later, including at a campaign-style event at his Florida estate.
In a spectacle relayed on live television, with rival protesters rallying outside, the hearing marked a watershed moment for the US criminal and political system, with the potential to upend the 2024 White House race in which Trump is currently the leading Republican nominee.
The twice-impeached Republican’s arrest is a development that has propelled the US into uncharted political waters.
Police lined the streets while helicopters buzzed in the skies as Trump’s motorcade made the short drive to court, a journey given wall-to-wall live coverage on US networks.
Trump was not subjected to a “perp walk” in which a defendant is escorted in handcuffs past media cameras.
Outside the venue were hundreds of people, including Trump supporters and anti-Trump demonstrators, as well as media and curious onlookers.
Police stepped into the fray as the pro-Trump side, many sporting “MAGA” hats and attire emblazoned with the American flag, yelled slurs at counter protesters.
The anti-Trump camp unfurled a large banner reading “Trump lies all the time” and chanted “Lock him up!” as Trump fans waved a flag with the slogan “Trump or Death.”
Meanwhile, the White House on Tuesday said Trump’s arraignment was not a focus for President Joe Biden
“Obviously he will catch part of the news when he has a moment to catch up on news of the day but this is not a focus for him,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
The sole public event on Biden’s schedule Tuesday was a meeting with advisors on emerging artificial intelligence technology.