NEW YORK -- The indictment against former President Donald Trump was unsealed Tuesday afternoon after his arraignment in a Lower Manhattan court.
The indictment accuses Trump of directing three different instances of hush money payments to cover up alleged affairs.
Trump personally entered the "not guilty" plea in the People of the State of New York against Donald J. Trump, Indictment No. 71543-23.
Trump was indicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.
They are all class E felonies, the lowest category of felony offense in New York, carrying a maximum prison sentence of four years.
In court, prosecutors said this was a conspiracy that started in 2015 with the $130,000 payment, as part of an effort to promote his candidacy by burying stories ahead of the election.
"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," said District Attorney Bragg. "Manhattan is home to the country's most significant business market. We cannot allow New York businesses to manipulate their records to cover up criminal conduct. As the Statement of Facts describes, the trail of money and lies exposes a pattern that, the People allege, violates one of New York's basic and fundamental business laws. As this office has done time and time again, we today uphold our solemn responsibility to ensure that everyone stands equal before the law."
The charges he faces aren't rare, people are charged with falsifying documents frequently in New York, but they're usually *misdemeanor charges.
In this case, they're felonies because prosecutors say the former president falsified the documents in order to defraud voters.
It's unique and experts say it will be a challenging case to prove in court.
Prosecutors say the former president orchestrated a "catch and kill" scheme over a two-year period in an attempt to pay off people and kill negative stories to help boost his chance at becoming president.
Much was already known about the hush money paid to Stormy Daniels, but prosecutors say Trump is behind a series of falsified records that are mentioned in the indictment.
Payments were made to three people including a $30,000 payment made to a former doorman at Trump Towner, who claimed to have a story about a child the president had out of wedlock.
Another payment of $150,000 to a woman who alleged she had a sexual relationship with him.
And a third payment to Stormy Daniels of $130,000 just days before the presidential election.
Former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Saland said prosecutors are laying out the framework for a "scheme" that they'll have to show more evidence of in court.
"Everyone was concentrating on Stormy Daniels, but what do we see from this indictment? This far exceeds those allegations. This involves someone else, another woman. This involves also a doorman, for an alleged cover-up. So it's not the act of the cover-up, it's not the act of the hush money, it's then taking that and falsifying and hiding and scheming to make sure that doesn't come out," Saland said.
Read the complete indictment below:
Read the complete Statement of Facts below:
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)