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Donald Trump will face more court proceedings while running for president

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Last night, former President Donald Trump gave a speech from his home in Florida.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: From the beginning, the Democrats spied on my campaign. Remember that?

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Yes.

TRUMP: They attacked me with an onslaught of fraudulent investigations.

MARTIN: Trump, who is running for president again, was just back from a Manhattan courtroom where he pleaded not guilty to 34 felonies. Prosecutors accuse him of falsifying business records to cover up payments to an adult film star. I spoke earlier with Andrea Bernstein, and I asked her what it was like to be there in the courtroom.

ANDREA BERNSTEIN, BYLINE: I have been in that courtroom a lot. And yesterday was like no other day. Here was a former president of the United States kind of shuffling grimly into the room, flanked by court officers and Secret Service. This was a man of many words who uttered just five of them, and they were not guilty and answering yes to three procedural questions. And I know that we've talked about this hush-money scheme, the payments to adult porn star Stormy Daniels so many times, that we all kind of feel numb to it. But here was a former president charged with 34 felonies.

He was charged with writing checks that reimburse the hush money, legal retainers, and that, according to the DA, that was to hide what the DA calls a conspiracy to undermine the 2016 election by using the hush money to alter the outcome of the campaign. And that's obviously the campaign that he won - the first one - to become president - so totally not normal. And yet here was Donald Trump once again making something unthinkable somehow something normal.

MARTIN: So he was pretty terse in court but typically loquacious on social media, right? He's personally attacked the judge and the DA. Did that come up in court?

BERNSTEIN: Very, very much so. Just minutes into the hearing, the assistant district attorney, Chris Conroy, began talking about this and how Trump had, quote, "directed a series of threatening public statements to the DA's office." And there was a whole discussion about whether this was OK. And the judge said, nope, he didn't agree; Trump's language was not justified; that all sides should refrain from making statements that are likely to incite violence or civil unrest.

MARTIN: What about the subject of a gag order? Could the judge impose one?

BERNSTEIN: Judge Merchan said specifically that he would not do that, especially because Trump is a candidate for president with First Amendment rights. But there was a discussion of Trump not being able to talk about grand jury evidence that he'll get, not being able to post it on social media, not even being able to take documents out of the presence of his lawyers. That is a real loss of control for a man who's used to controlling everything.

MARTIN: So what happens now?

BERNSTEIN: So Trump will keep campaigning. He is the front-runner. And we are now talking about a trial potentially in early 2024, right around high primary season. And the case will be back in court in early December.

MARTIN: That's Andrea Bernstein.

Andrea, thanks so much.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
Andrea Bernstein
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
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