Republicans and Democrats react to Trump’s New York arraignment

Figures from across political spectrum weigh in on the criminal charges against former US President Donald Trump.

Drawing depicting Trump's court appearance
A courtroom sketch shows Donald Trump on April 4 [Jane Rosenberg/Reuters]

An indictment against former United States President Donald Trump has been unsealed, revealing that the Republican leader faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in New York.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which stem from a grand jury investigation into hush money allegedly paid to porn star Stormy Daniels in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

But the charging documents released on Tuesday reveal that prosecutors plan to pursue Trump for other payments beyond the $130,000 allegedly paid to Daniels for her silence.

The indictment accuses Trump of using a “catch and kill scheme” to subvert negative press, paying to suppress a doorman’s account of a child fathered out of wedlock and bury a story of another alleged extra-marital affair, believed to be with Playboy model Karen McDougal.

With Tuesday’s indictment, Trump has become the first former US president to face criminal charges. He briefly appeared in the Manhattan Criminal Court to hear the charges and be fingerprinted and processed, before flying home to Florida.

The charges come as Trump seeks the Republican nomination for the presidency in the 2024 race. Below are some of the reactions to Trump’s arraignment:

‘Nothing done illegally!’: Former President Donald Trump

“The hearing was shocking to many in that they had no ‘surprises,’ and therefore, no case,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social website following his arraignment.

“Virtually every legal pundit has said that there is no case here. There was nothing done illegally!”

‘Serious criminal misconduct’: DA Alvin Bragg

“These are felony crimes in New York State, no matter who you are. We cannot and will not normalise serious criminal conduct,” Manhattan District Attorney Bragg told reporters in his first public remarks after Trump’s arraignment.

Bragg has led the probe of Trump’s hush money payments, collecting evidence of alleged falsified business records.

‘Law has finally caught up with Donald Trump’: Representative Rashida Tlaib

“History will remember Donald Trump not only as the first president to be impeached twice, but the first president to be indicted on criminal charges,” the Michigan representative and Democrat said in a statement.

“Today, the law has finally caught up with Donald Trump and his corrupt and reckless behavior. No one is above the law, no matter how rich or powerful they are.”

‘Great courage’: Congressman Joaquin Castro

“While the arraignment of a former president is unprecedented, the Manhattan district attorney has shown great courage in holding Donald Trump accountable,” the Texas Democrat said in a statement.

‘Somber moment’: Representative Adam Schiff

“A somber moment in the life of our country when it’s necessary to arraign a former president on criminal charges,” Schiff, a California Democrat, said on Tuesday afternoon on Twitter.

“As the case falls to the DA to prove, we must recognise what is most important: Even the most powerful are held to account, and that nobody is above the law.”

Schiff was the lead prosecutor in the Senate impeachment trial of Trump in 2020.

‘Bad day’: Senator Marco Rubio

“Today is a bad day for all of us & we are all going to regret it for a very long time,” Rubio, a Florida Republican and former 2016 presidential candidate, tweeted.

“Today we set the new normal that if you really want to take someone down, nothing should stop you. You should be able to manipulate the law anyway you want to charge someone.”

Rubio added that the charges against Trump were “absurd”.

‘Take responsibility’: Representative Jamaal Bowman

“Take responsibility, hold yourself accountable and go away,” the New York Democrat said when reporters asked if he had a message for Trump.

‘I stand w/Trump’: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

“I stand w/Trump & will always fight against those who want to destroy our Republic,” Paxton, a Republican, said in a tweet.

‘Not commenting’: White House

“I think the American people should feel reassured that, when there is an ongoing case like this one, we’re just not commenting,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in a press briefing.

‘Protests must be peaceful’: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

Schumer, a New York Democrat, tweeted: “I believe that Donald Trump will have a fair trial that follows the facts and the law. There’s no place in our justice system for any outside influence or intimidation in the legal process. As the trial proceeds, protest is an American right, but all protests must be peaceful.

‘Immoral man’: Representative Madeleine Dean

“Mr. Trump was a president of many firsts — none of which were good for our country. His arraignment is another first — all of his own making,” tweeted the Pennsylvania Democrat, adding that the twice-impeached president was “an immoral man” and a “corrupt citizen”.

‘Baseless’: Senator Ted Cruz

“The indictment of Donald Trump is wholly political and baseless,” the Texas Republican said on Twitter.

‘I stood by Trump’: Representative George Santos

“I stood by Trump from the moment he came down the escalator, I voted for him in the primary and twice for president in the general elections,” the newly elected Republican representative from New York wrote on Twitter.

“Today I showed up, because that’s what real supporters do, they show up for your best and your worse days.”

‘Long time coming’: Mary Trump

“The events in New York City have, obviously, been a long time coming. This is a historic day and the implications of what’s about to happen at the courthouse in Lower Manhattan will have massive implications for this country,” the niece of the former president said in a tweet.

“Donald has eluded accountability for so long and left so much destruction in his wake that there is a lot to take in,” she added with the hashtag “#HappyIndictmentDay.”

‘He’s frustrated, he’s upset’: Trump lawyer Todd Blanche

“He’s frustrated, he’s upset, but I’ll tell you what, he’s motivated. And it’s not gonna stop and it’s not gonna slow him down. It’s exactly what he expected. So to that extent, there’s no surprise but he’s also upset and frustrated and disappointed and mad that this happened.”

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters