OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The first photo of former President Donald Trump at the defendant’s table in court has been released.
The former president entered the courtroom after 2:30 PM in New York on Tuesday and minutes later the photo was sent to the press by photographers on hand.
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Judge Juan Merchan ruled late on Monday night that he will allow five pool photographers to snap for several minutes before the arraignment but declared that no cameras will be allowed in the courtroom once the hearing begins.
“That this indictment involves a matter of monumental significance cannot possibly be disputed. Never in the history of the United States has a sitting or past President been indicted on criminal charges,” Merchan said.
The judge said he “needed to balance other interests” and that no electronic devices will be allowed in either the main or overflow courtrooms.
Trump was indicted late last week by a Manhattan grand jury in a case involving his purported role in hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, allegedly to keep Daniels quiet about an affair the two of them had in 2006.
Several Republicans have come out in support of Trump.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz responded: “The Democrat Party’s hatred for Donald Trump knows no bounds. The ‘substance’ of this political persecution is utter garbage. This is completely unprecedented and is a catastrophic escalation in the weaponization of the justice system.”
Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley said: “Tonight’s indictment of Donald Trump isn’t about the law. It’s about power. Raw power. It’s the Democrat Party telling the nation they will stop at nothing to control the outcome of the next presidential election. It is an assault on our democracy, pure and simple.”
Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and 2024 GOP presidential candidate, tweeted: “From everything I have seen from this New York district attorney is that this would be something he’d be doing for political points. I think what we know is, when you get into political prosecutions like this, it’s more about revenge than it is about justice.”
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said last week after the indictment was announced that the state would not cooperate with any request to extradite Trump.
“The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head. It is un-American. The Manhattan District Attorney has consistently bent the law to downgrade felonies and to excuse criminal misconduct. Yet, now he is stretching the law to target a political opponent. Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda,” he said.
Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz delivered a big update last week after he had a phone call with Trump.
“We will wake up in a very different America because we can no longer have moral authority against the dictators who would always find it easier to jail their political rivals than to compete against them in free and fair elections. I remember my Democrat colleagues about Comey making derogatory comments about Clinton before the election. This must ring a thousand times louder to them. I believe there are federal equities at play that the United States Congress is about to evaluate,” Gaetz added.
“We don’t want to resolve differences through violence but the Chinese communist party can pay every grifter but Donald Trump can’t pay Stormy Daniels without a legal dispute. There’s a legal element that’s not met by any evidence. They would have to prove that Donald Trump would have no reason other than the election to try to resolve this issue with Stormy Daniels privately and outside of the public sphere. I think a motion to dismiss will happen next. If this were ever to be tried, you could not do it in Manhattan. You would see a change of venue in upstate New York. Maybe it’s the only place Donald Trump could get a fair trial. I expect this will be resolved well before that by any court that looks at the way that the law is being tortured in the absence of any charge that would be maintainable against any human being on the Planet Earth other than Donald Trump and against Trump it’s clearly political,” he concluded.