Donald Trump will be placed under arrest on Tuesday and informed that he has been charged with 34 felony counts for falsification of business records, according to a source who has been briefed on the procedures for the arraignment of the former president.
A New York City police arrest report summarizing the charges against Trump will then be prepared and entered into the court system before he is led into a courtroom to be formally arraigned on the charges, none of which are misdemeanors.
But, the source said, Trump will not be put in handcuffs, placed in a jail cell or subjected to a mug shot — typical procedures even for white-collar defendants until a judge has weighed in on pretrial conditions. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office, which has been consulting with the Secret Service and New York City court officials, concluded there was no reason to subject the former president to handcuffs or a mug shot.
The stated reason for handcuffing defendants is that they might be a flight risk or a threat to the district attorney or court personnel, neither of which was judged to be relevant to the handling of a former president protected at all times by a phalanx of Secret Service agents.
The charge of falsification of business records can be prosecuted in New York state as a misdemeanor. But Bragg’s office bumped up all the charges to Class E felonies — the lowest level of felonies in the New York state penal code — on the grounds that the conduct was intended to conceal another underlying crime, according to the source.
Under the New York State penal code, a conviction for the Class E felony of falsifying business records can result in a prison term of up to four years. But as a practical matter, that seems extremely unlikely. “No one gets jail time for that as a first offender,” said a New York law enforcement official.
The evidence for the underlying crime that escalated Trump’s alleged misdemeanors to felonies is still not clear and won’t be until the indictment is unsealed on Tuesday. But it is believed to relate to the payment of $130,000 in hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels during the closing weeks of the 2016 election to conceal an extramarital encounter with Trump.
After this story was posted, a spokesman for Trump said the former president’s legal team had not seen the indictment or been briefed on the details. Trump himself responded with a post on TruthSocial.
“Wow! District Attorney Bragg just illegally LEAKED the various points, and complete information, on the pathetic Indictment against me,” Trump wrote. “I know the reporter and so, unfortunately, does he. This means that he MUST BE IMMEDIATELY INDICTED. Now, if he wants to really clean up his reputation, he will do the honorable thing and, as District Attorney, INDICT HIMSELF. He will go down in Judicial history, and his Trump Hating wife will be, I am sure, very proud of him!”
A spokesperson for Bragg said in an email that the district attorney’s office “declined to comment on a sealed indictment.”