Former President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to the historic criminal charges against him.

Trump surrendered at Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday as part of a Manhattan grand jury indictment. He is the first former commander in chief to be arraigned on criminal charges. Those charges—which were sealed until Trump’s court appearance—include 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, according to a statement from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

“The People of the State of New York allege that Donald J. Trump repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal crimes that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election,” Bragg said in the statement. “We cannot allow New York businesses to manipulate their records to cover up criminal conduct.”

The charges stem from Bragg’s investigation into hush money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump, which he has denied.

During a news conference Tuesday, Bragg accused Trump of making a $130,000 payment to adult film actor Stormy Daniels through his lawyer Michael Cohen shortly before the 2016 election as part of a “catch and kill” scheme. Bragg said Trump then falsified business records to reimburse Cohen and cover up the scheme, and the payment itself violated New York state election laws.

Trump, who is seeking a second term as president in the 2024 election, has maintained his innocence and likened the indictment to a political “witch-hunt.” On the way to his arraignment on Tuesday, he posted a message to his Truth Social account saying the situation seemed “so SURREAL—WOW, they are going to ARREST ME.”

ABC News reported that Trump was processed, including fingerprinting, and taken to a courtroom around 2:28 p.m. Tuesday. He entered his not guilty plea around 3 p.m. and left the courtroom shortly after. He planned to return to his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida for remarks later in the evening.

The next in-person hearing for the case is set for December 4.

Here is a rundown of the names to know from, or connected to, the investigation.

Donald Trump

president donald trump sitting with his lawyers at a courtroom desk
Donald Trump, center, sits with his legal team during his arraignment on April 4 in Manhattan Criminal Court.
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The former president, 76, has repeatedly denied any tryst with Daniels. “I never had an affair with Stormy Daniels, nor would I have wanted to have an affair with Stormy Daniels,” Trump said in a statement he posted on Truth Social on March 9.

Trump claimed on March 21 that he is the victim of an extortion plot by Daniels and that Democratic investigators are targeting him for political reasons. He launched his 2024 presidential campaign in November and most recently held his first rally in Waco, Texas, on March 25. He even took a verbal jab at Daniels during the event, referring to her with the derogatory nickname “horse face.”

Trump initially denied knowledge of any payments to Daniels but admitted to authorizing Cohen to make one following a January 2018 report by The Wall Street Journal. He said it was a “monthly retainer” and that funds from his campaign and campaign contributions weren’t involved.

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Stormy Daniels

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Stormy Daniels speaks to a reporter at a film premiere in Los Angeles in May 2022.
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Daniels—real name Stephanie Clifford—maintains she had an affair with the former president.

According to a 2018 interview with 60 Minutes, Daniels, 44, and Trump were introduced at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in July 2006. Daniels said during the interview that she met with Trump in his hotel suite, and the two had a sexual encounter. They met one more time in July 2007 in Los Angeles to discuss a potential appearance on Trump’s NBC reality franchise The Apprentice.

According to The Washington Post, Daniels agreed to share her story with In Touch Weekly in 2011. However, the magazine never ran the interview because Trump’s lawyer Cohen threatened to sue.

After Trump won the GOP nomination for president in the 2016 election, Cohen offered to pay Daniels to keep quiet. She said she felt pressured into signing a nondisclosure agreement and statement denying the affair took place.

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Michael Cohen

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Michael Cohen arrives at his New York City home after being released on furlough from federal prison in May 2020.
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Cohen, 56, has testified at least 20 times on the former president’s actions and is a main witness against him, according to USA Today.

In August 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of tax evasion, making false statements to a federally-insured bank, and campaign finance violations. According to a Justice Department news release, the charges included causing “$280,000 in payments to be made to silence two women who otherwise planned to speak publicly about their alleged affairs with a presidential candidate, thereby intending to influence the 2016 presidential election.”

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison later in 2018 but released early to home detention because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Alvin Bragg

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Alvin Bragg took over as Manhattan district attorney in 2022.
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Bragg, 49, became the first Black district attorney for Manhattan in 2022, and was elected to succeed the retiring Cyrus Vance Jr. Bragg grew up in Harlem and graduated from Harvard Law School.

Bragg has served as a federal prosecutor, an assistant attorney general for New York, and a civil rights attorney. He notably represented the mother of Eric Garner, whose death by police chokehold in July 2014 sparked protests across the country.

Upon taking office, Bragg inherited the years-long grand jury investigation into alleged hush payments on Trump’s behalf. According to the Associated Press, Bragg initially slowed his office’s push toward an indictment of Trump, resulting in the resignation of two prosecutors leading the investigation.

However, Bragg convened a new grand jury after convicting the Trump Organization of tax fraud in January 2023 and proceeded with other areas of the probe.

Robert Costello

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Pro-Trump lawyer Robert Costello has testified on the former president’s behalf in the grand jury investigation.
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Costello, a Republican lawyer loyal to Trump, testified on March 20 against Cohen, for whom he previously served as a legal adviser.

Costello told reporters that Cohen is a liar on a “revenge tour” and claimed he had email communications that undermine Cohen’s credibility, according to USA Today. He suggested Cohen acted on his own in making the payment to Daniels.

According to Newsweek, Costello previously represented Trump ally Steve Bannon after he faced contempt of Congress charges for denying a subpoena amid the investigation of the January 6, 2021 riot at the United States Capitol.

Allen Weisselberg

allen weisselberg walking out of a courtroom with his head down
Allen Weisselberg leaves the New York Supreme Court in November 2022.
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According to USA Today, Cohen testified in Congress that Weisselberg reimbursed him $130,000 to pay Daniels back in 2016. Weiselberg, 75, was the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization before facing his own legal turmoil.

New York Attorney General Letitia James accused Weisselberg of taking more than $1.7 million in back-channel payments from the Trump Organization. He pleaded guilty to 15 felonies in August 2022 and was sentenced to five months in prison under a plea agreement.

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Tyler Piccotti
Associate News Editor,

Tyler Piccotti joined the staff in 2023, and before that had worked almost eight years as a newspaper reporter and copy editor. He is a graduate of Syracuse University, an avid sports fan, a frequent moviegoer, and trivia buff.