Trump says US going to hell after being charged

The US is “going to hell”, Donald Trump has said in a defiant address after pleading not guilty to falsifying business records to hide damaging information ahead of the 2016 election.

The former president was charged with 34 counts in a Manhattan court in New York on Tuesday.

These relate to a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who says they had an affair.

Mr Trump is the first US president in history to face a criminal trial.

“The only crime that I have committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it,” the 76-year-old told supporters gathered at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida after he appeared in court.

He said that the “fake case” was simply part of a Democratic conspiracy to interfere with next year’s presidential election, in which he is running.

Earlier, he sat stony-faced and silent for the nearly hour-long proceedings before Judge Juan Merchan, speaking out loud only in response to the judge’s questions and to enter his plea of not guilty. Mr Trump said nothing to reporters as he left court.

The case against the former president hinges on a hush-money payment of $130,000 (£104,000) made before the 2016 presidential election.

While such a payment is not illegal, spending money to help a presidential campaign but not disclosing it violates federal campaign finance law.

His former lawyer, Michael Cohen – who turned against his former boss – has said he made the payment at Mr Trump’s direction.

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