Trump to return to New York criminal court for jury selection

Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial kicks off in New York

Donald Trump becomes the first former U.S. president to face a criminal trial

on Monday in a case involving hush money paid to a porn star that could keep him tied up in court for weeks and

complicate his bid to win back the White House.

Trump, 77, is required to attend the trial in Manhattan, which is expected to last through May.

Jury selection is expected to take about a week, followed by witness testimony.

The block in front of the Manhattan courthouse was closed off,

with a maze of police barricades shuttling a small army of reporters into the first layer of security.

A handful of protesters gathered in the plaza across the street, carrying hand-painted signs reading

“LOSER” and “convict Trump already.”

Though the case is regarded by some legal experts as the least consequential of the four criminal prosecutions he faces,

it is the only one guaranteed to go to trial before the Nov. 5 election.

Trump has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could still hold office

but Reuters/Ipsos polling shows a guilty verdict could hobble his prospects.

The businessman-turned-politician, who served as president from 2017 to 2021,

has used past court appearances to rally his supporters and claim he is being persecuted by his political enemies.

New York state prosecutors accuse him of falsifying records to cover up a $130,000 payment in the waning days of the

2016 presidential campaign to buy the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels about a 2006 sexual encounter she has said they had.

Trump has denied any such relationship. He pleaded not guilty last year to 34 counts of falsification of business records in the

case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, in New York state court.

In his three other criminal cases, opens a new tab, he stands accused of mishandling classified information and

trying to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

Trump on trial: Live updates with former president in court for hush money trial
Trump on trial: Live updates with former president in court for hush money trail

He has painted all the criminal cases against him as a plot by Biden’s Democrats to undermine his presidential campaign.

“There’s going to be an argument from the defence that this is a politically motivated prosecution, and

if they had a real crime they’d have brought a real crime, and instead, they have little notations on a chequebook,”

said Adam Kaufmann, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

On Monday morning, Trump repeated those claims on social media and said Justice Juan Merchan,

who is overseeing the trial, is “highly conflicted.”

Bragg has argued that the case concerns an unlawful scheme to corrupt the 2016 election by burying a scandalous story that would have harmed Trump’s campaign.

Trump’s lawyers have said the payment to Daniels did not amount to an illegal campaign contribution.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll published last week found that nearly two in three voters found the charges in the case at least somewhat serious.

One in four of his fellow Republicans and half of independents said they would not vote for Trump if he were convicted of a felony.

Choosing a jury from a pool of people from heavily Democratic Manhattan could take several days, to be followed by opening statements and witness testimony.

Daniels and Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who has testified that he made the payments to Daniels, are among the witnesses expected to testify.

Trump has said he plans to testify in his defence, a risky proposition that would open him up to probing cross-examination by prosecutors.


What prosecutors have to prove in the Trump hush money trial
What prosecutors have to prove in the Donald Trump hush money trail

Prosecutors have said the payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was part of a broader “catch and kill” scheme to suppress unflattering information about Trump before the election, in which he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump is accused of falsely recording reimbursements to Cohen as monthly legal retainer fees in his New York-based real estate company’s books.

Falsifying business records in New York is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison. However, many defendants convicted of that charge have been sentenced to fines or probation.

Trump’s defence has argued that his payments to Cohen in 2017, while he was president, were for legal services.

Trump has called Cohen a “serial liar” and his lawyers are expected to attack his credibility at trial.

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to violating campaign finance law, though the federal prosecutors who brought that case did not charge Trump.

Trump’s lawyers lodged three last-minute bids to delay the trial last week. Judges rejected all.

What happens if Trump is found guilty? 

Trump could theoretically face more than a decade in prison if he’s convicted on all counts in the criminal hush money case. However several legal experts said such a dramatic outcome is unlikely.

Instead, Trump would likely face a sentence between probation and four years of prison, and he would probably still be out to freely campaign in the 2024 presidential election while his all-but-certain appeal ran its course.

If Trump were sentenced to jail or prison time, it’s also unclear what that would look like.

As a former president, he enjoys around-the-clock Secret Service protection, and no former president has ever been prosecuted.

Special accommodations may be needed at a jail or prison, and the sentencing judge could also consider alternative arrangements such as house arrest or placement at some other secure location.

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What is Donald Trump charged with in NY?

The trial will feature some salacious allegations. Prosecutors claim Trump falsified records to conceal

that he was reimbursing his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Daniels has said she had sex with the real estate mogul shortly after his wife, Melania Trump,

gave birth to their son, Barron. Trump denies Daniels’ claim and has pleaded not guilty in the case.

The charges are felonies, as opposed to misdemeanours, because prosecutors claim Trump falsified

the records to conceal violating federal election laws through a payment that was meant to help his 2016

presidential campaign but exceeded campaign contribution limits.

The payment was made less than two weeks before the 2016 election.

Prosecutors also allege the records were falsified to violate New York tax and election laws.

What’s happening today in Donald Trump’s trial?

Jury selection will start Monday and last several days, if not multiple weeks.

The process will involve Trump’s legal team and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office wrangling over

who should make it into the pool of 12 jurors and several alternates who will be tasked with deciding whether Trump is guilty.

The former president lost a flurry of motions and appeals in recent days seeking to delay the proceedings.

But unlike in his three other criminal cases, which deal with allegations that he tried to illegally steal the 2020 presidential election

and mishandled classified documents, delay tactics haven’t allowed him to avoid the start of this trial.

Donald Trump lost several bids to delay his hush money trail

Trump New York hush money criminal trial
Judge Juan Merchan poses for a picture in his chambers in New York, Thursday, March 14, 2024. Merchan could become the first judge ever to oversee a former U.S. president’s criminal trial. He’s presiding over Donald Trump’s hush money case in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A series of New York judges this month rejected pleas from former President Donald Trump to delay the criminal trial.

In one request, Trump said Judge Juan Merchan should delay the trial until after the Supreme Court has ruled on the scope of presidential immunity in a separate Trump case dealing with federal election interference charges.

The high court is scheduled to hear arguments on that issue on April 25.

But Merchan said Trump raised the argument too late. Trump only made the argument in March, almost a year after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced the charges on April 4, 2023.

On Friday, Merchan rejected a separate Trump delay request based on his argument that pre-trial publicity about the case created unfair prejudice against him.

Merchan said the right way to address that concern is to have a thorough jury selection process.

In addition, last week three different judges from a New York appeals court each rejected last-minute delay requests from Trump.

The former president argued he should get a delay until the appeals court rules on his arguments for moving the trial out of Manhattan and tossing out Merchan’s limited gag order against him, and until Merchan rules on his latest request for Merchan’s recusal.


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