Skip to Content

Fact check: Trump makes false and evidence-free claims at Manhattan courthouse

<i>Mary Altaffer/AP</i><br/>Former President Donald Trump speaks before entering the courtroom at Manhattan criminal court
Mary Altaffer/AP
Former President Donald Trump speaks before entering the courtroom at Manhattan criminal court

By Daniel Dale, CNN

Washington (CNN) — Former President Donald Trump, now the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, made false and evidence-free claims to reporters on Thursday before and after he attended a Manhattan court hearing in the hush money criminal case against him.

Here is a fact check of some of Trump’s remarks.

Trump’s court attendance and campaign schedule

Before entering the courtroom, Trump claimed that the hush money case against him is “election interference.” He also argued that it is literally interfering with his ability to campaign in South Carolina in advance of the February 24 Republican presidential primary there.

“How can you run for election and be sitting in a courthouse in Manhattan all day long? I’m supposed to be in South Carolina right now, where other people are, and where, again – this is where I should be. I shouldn’t be in a courthouse,” Trump said.

Trump was even more explicit in comments after leaving the courtroom later in the morning, saying, “So instead of being in South Carolina and other states, campaigning, I’m stuck here.”

Facts First: Trump wasn’t “stuck” in the courthouse in New York on Thursday. In fact, he was not required to attend any part of the hearing, since Judge Juan Merchan had waived his pretrial appearances in the hush money case. Rather, Trump voluntarily chose to appear at the hearing after considering instead attending a Thursday hearing in Georgia that is related to the charges he faces there. And he had not been scheduled to be in South Carolina on Thursday even before he made the decision to attend the New York hearing; his next scheduled campaign appearance in the state is next week. His next rally after the Thursday hearing is a Saturday event in Michigan.

Trump was not planning to fly to South Carolina after the New York hearing. He was planning to fly back to Florida, where he lives.

Though he has appeared only occasionally at court hearings, Trump has spent little time campaigning in South Carolina so far in the 2024 campaign. His two rallies in the state in the past week were his first there in 2024.

Biden and the hush money case

Before entering the courtroom, Trump claimed that President Joe Biden’s White House is running the hush money case that was brought against him by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

“What it is, is election interference. It’s being run by Joe Biden’s White House. His top person was placed here in order to make sure everything goes right,” Trump said. He continued, “His top person, Colangelo, and some others have been placed into the DA’s office to make sure they do a good job of election interference.”

Facts First: There is no basis for Trump’s claims. First, there is no evidence that Biden’s White House has any role in running the Manhattan district attorney’s case. Second, there is no evidence that the White House nor the Biden administration had anything to do with senior Justice Department official Matthew Colangelo’s decision to leave the department and join the district attorney’s office in 2022 as senior counsel to Bragg. Colangelo and Bragg knew each other before Bragg was elected Manhattan district attorney.

Colangelo and Bragg previously worked at the same time in the office of New York’s state attorney general, where Colangelo investigated Trump’s charity and Trump’s financial practices and was involved in bringing various lawsuits against the Trump administration.

On a minor point, Colangelo was never Biden’s very top official at the Justice Department. Colangelo served as acting associate attorney general in the first months of the Biden administration in early 2021 and then as principal deputy associate attorney general. As acting associate attorney general, he was third in command of the department.

Justice Department prosecutors declined both in the middle and at the end of Trump’s presidential term to pursue federal charges against Trump over the hush money case, CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig reported in a 2023 book.

Honig reported that federal prosecutors in New York decided against pursuing charges in 2018 on account of longstanding Justice Department guidance that a sitting president can’t be indicted. Honig reported that in January 2021, just before Trump left office that month, federal prosecutors in New York held discussions about possibly reviving the case but again decided not to seek an indictment.

Violent crime in New York

Before entering the courtroom Trump denounced the hush money case against him and said, “This is not a crime. And when you look what’s going on outside [inaudible; in or on] the streets, where violent crime is at an all-time high, I think it’s a very, very – it’s a great double standard.”

Trump has made similar claims about crime levels in New York City on various previous occasions while attacking the cases he faces in New York – and CNN has repeatedly debunked them.

Facts First: Trump’s claim remains false. Violent crime is nowhere near a record high in either Manhattan in particular or New York City as a whole. Both Manhattan and New York City have experienced massive declines in crime since the record levels of the early 1990s.

New York City publishes crime statistics on its website, so the facts are easy to find. In 1990, when the city set its all-time record for murders, there were 503 recorded murders in Manhattan, which is one of the city’s five boroughs. In 2023, Manhattan recorded 73 murders – a decline of about 85% from 1990.

Manhattan is also way below record levels for other kinds of violent crime. For example, Manhattan recorded 252 rapes in 2023, down about 63% from the 689 in 1990, and 3,841 robberies in 2023, down about 86% from the 26,907 in 1990.

The declines are similarly large for New York City as a whole. The city recorded 391 murders in 2023, down about 83% from the 2,262 in 1990; 1,455 rapes in 2023, down about 53% from the 3,126 in 1990; and 16,910 robberies in 2023, down about 83% from the 100,280 in 1990.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content