Arraignment day brings the Trump circus to town

Hurricane Trump has hit Manhattan

Protesters outside Trump arraignment
(Image credit: Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump arrived at a Manhattan courthouse on Tuesday to be arraigned for his role in allegedly falsifying business records as part of a coverup of hush money payments made to former adult film star Stormy Daniels. His appearance — the first-ever instance of a former president facing criminal charges — follows a series of bombastic statements made by Trump against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, presiding Judge Juan Merchan, and a host of other perceived antagonists and political irritants.

In keeping with the same sense of bombast modeled by Trump in his social media preamble to Tuesday's arraignment, protesters and revelers alike spent the day celebrating and denouncing the former president outside the courthouse. The scrum helped return the former president to the spot where he's most comfortable operating: at the center of everyone's attention. Serious legal jeopardy notwithstanding, Trump has managed to leverage his pre-and-post arraignment appearance into a pseudo-campaign rally to energize his base, replete with fodder for a new round of lucrative fundraising. And although Trump was uncharacteristically demure during the arraignment itself, where he pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, the overall atmosphere of the day — which Trump himself helped stoke — was hyperbolic and electric.

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Rafi Schwartz, The Week US

Rafi Schwartz has worked as a politics writer at The Week since 2022, where he covers elections, Congress and the White House. He was previously a contributing writer with Mic focusing largely on politics, a senior writer with Splinter News, a staff writer for Fusion's news lab, and the managing editor of Heeb Magazine, a Jewish life and culture publication. Rafi's work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GOOD and The Forward, among others.