Caribbean American Democratic legislators have welcomed the decision by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to charge former United States President Donald J. Trump with 34 felony charges of falsifying business records in the first degree.
The indictment, unsealed in court on Tuesday, surrounds Trump’s reimbursements to his former fixer, Michael D. Cohen, the prosecution’s key witness, for a hush-money payment to pornographic star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Tuesday.
“If America is to remain a vibrant democracy and be a nation of laws, our laws must be applied universally,” Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), adding it is “a moment of both pride and pain for our country.
“The presidency is meant to represent our highest ideals as Americans. To witness an individual who once held that sacred title fall to such contemptible lows will leave a scar not easily healed,” said Clarke, the representative for the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York.
“But we must find reassurance in the fact that our justice system has refused to allow former President Trump to escape the consequences of his alleged actions,” she said, noting that a “critical procedure towards preserving the rule of law and protecting our values as a nation has commenced.
“Keeping in mind Donald Trump’s long history of flagrant contempt for the precious right of due process and the rule of law, it is my sincere hope that he receives a fair trial and just treatment during the adjudication of the numerous charges against him.
“I look forward to seeing all evidence that would shed light on Mr. Trump’s alleged crimes come to light,” said Clarke, first vice chair of the US Congressional Black Caucus.
New York State Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, who chairs the Brooklyn Democratic Party, told CMC that “Trump’s arraignment shows that justice still endures and that nobody, including a former president, is above the law.
“The Brooklyn Democratic Party lauds Manhattan DA (District Attorney) Alvin Bragg for his rigorous investigation, and we are confident that Trump will have a fair trial, regardless of the outcome,” added the representative for the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn.
“There’s no place for harassment in our Justice system, and we urge everyone to protest peacefully as justice prevails over hate.
“If true, the allegations that Trump concealed crimes that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election are extremely disturbing and deserving of a worthy and fair punishment,” said Bichotte Hermelyn.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, Tuesday joined his colleagues and fellow advocates at the courthouse in Manhattan “to stand up to hate and counter the voices of folks who came to our city to spread lies and stoke bigoted division like Marjorie Taylor Greene.”
Greene, a conservative Georgia congresswoman and ardent Trump supporter, briefly used a bullhorn, in a nearby park, to whip up support for the former president, as he was arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court.
“The people calling Trump’s indictment and arraignment an injustice are the same people fighting against bail reform and for a system that benefits whiter and wealthier defendants at the expense of marginalized communities,” Williams told CMC, adding “as always, I’m proud to stand up for justice, regardless of the consequences.
“While conservatives across the country are attempting to undermine our progressive agenda, we aren’t slowing down here in New York. I’m continuing to work to protect asylum seekers, improve tenants’ rights, pass critical health care reform and advance true public safety.
“As the disgraced former president faces his first arraignment for his many alleged crimes, the people calling his indictment an injustice and attacking District Attorney Bragg are among the same who called the District Attorney ‘soft on crime’ for his efforts to combat mass incarceration,” Williams said.
In addition to the indictment, District Attorney Bragg released a “statement of facts” in which he outlines a broader scheme, which Trump and others allegedly orchestrated to avert negative press during the 2016 campaign.
Bragg said that the alleged scheme also included hush-money payments to a second woman, who charged that she had a sexual encounter with Trump, and a former Trump doorman alleging that the former US President had a child out-of-wedlock.
In announcing the indictment, Bragg said that Trump, 76, falsified New York business records in order to conceal damaging information and that he pursued unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election.
“During the election, Trump and others employed a ‘catch and kill’ scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects,” Bragg said.
“Trump then went to great lengths to hide this conduct, causing dozens of false entries in business records to conceal criminal activity, including attempts to violate state and federal election laws.
“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,” he added.
After Trump’s arraignment, Bragg told a news conference “everyone stands equal under the law”.