Sat. May 18th, 2024

Trump’s N.Y. hush money trial begins. Here’s what you missed the first day.

By 37ci3 Apr16,2024

Former President Donald Trump, now on trial, has tried to boost his legal threat to his presidential campaign by revitalizing his supporters and casting doubt about the motives of his opponents.

But Trump, who faces 34 felony charges, argued on the historic first day of his hush money trial in New York that he was the victim of a criminal justice system that was rigged against him.

He called it an “attack” on the nation. As the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, he has repeatedly attacked the prosecutor’s office for “meddling in the election.”

That’s why “I’m very proud to be here,” Trump said.

His defense attorney, Todd Blanch, said Trump intends to participate at every level, from court conferences to jury selection.

“President Trump wants to be involved in everything,” Blanche said.

For most of the day, Trump sat next to his lawyers at the defense table. Sometimes his voice could be heard in the back of the courtroom, though not as he said it. At other moments, Trump closed his eyes — prompting speculation that he was still awake or just thinking.

Here’s what happened during Monday’s court proceedings:

Jury selection

About 500 New Yorkers have turned out for Day 1 of Trump’s criminal trial, which could take days and weeks as the trial tries to weed out jurors who could be swayed by strong prejudices or secretive jurors. hides theirs.

“Are you, or have you ever been, a member of a group like the Oath Keepers or the 3 percent?”, referring to another far-right group to narrow the pool. such questions are used. Other questions about the hobbies or education of prospective jurors are less overtly political ways to assess the potential fairness of jurors.

About 200 Manhattanites waited inside the courthouse to find out if they would be selected when the presiding judge, Juan Mercan, announced he was ready to begin jury selection.

Trump sat at the defense table as the first batch of 96 jurors filled the benches behind him and were ushered into the courtroom. Their names and those of other potential jurors must be kept confidential, except for the defense and the prosecution.

Trump, speaking to his attorney, gestured with his hands as Merchan discussed the handling of jury names. The defense and prosecution each received copies of the names of potential jurors, which Merchan said cannot be reproduced in any way and must be returned to the court. They also received copies of the jurors’ numbers.

This can be an intimidating process. More than half of the potential jurors from the first batch of 96 — at least 50 — excused themselves after saying they could not be fair or impartial. Another nine were excused when Merchan asked them if there were other reasons why they could not serve.

Half of the remaining pool of about 34 were called to begin voir dire, during which both sides will be questioned, including about their media consumption habits. Trump is watching the process closely, reading as it goes on.


Trump allegedly ordered his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, to send the porn star Stormy Daniels His alleged embezzlement during his 2016 presidential bid is at the heart of the allegations in the case. Prosecutors say it was part of a scheme to suppress negative stories about Trump before Election Day, when they claim it should be charged as election interference.

Trump has denied the accusations, but prosecutors say he went after the people he accused, including key witnesses in the case, and that he did so tactically.

“The defendant himself clearly adopted a strategy of going after his enemies,” said prosecutor Joshua Steinglass.

Blanche, who defended Trump, said that he faced an attack by witnesses against him.

“He is responding to the humiliating, repeated, violent attacks of these witnesses,” Blanche said.

Inside the courtroom, large monitors showed the closed circuit speech of the judge and the tables of the defense and the prosecution.

In court, Merchan read a list of possible witnesses, name-checking Trump family members, including his children Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump; wife Melania; and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Merchan mentioned longtime Trump associates like Kellyanne Conway, Dan Scavino and Rudy Giuliani; her bodyguard, Keith Schiller; and White House aides John McEntee, Hope Hicks and Madeleine Westerhout.

Risk of arrest

Trump, who will be in the courtroom for every day of the trial, condemned the case as “an unprecedented prosecution” and stood outside the courtroom on Monday, arguing that it was “an attack on a political opponent.” ”

Merchan warned Trump that he could risk jail time if he violates the process, which will continue in his absence. Prosecutors are already seeking thousands of dollars in fines for three violations of the curfew, including Monday morning.

If Trump fails to appear, a warrant could be issued for his arrest, a commitment his campaign has criticized as a “Banana Republic tactic.”

It’s a job that “should never be taken away,” Trump said.

The trial could drag on for weeks, diverting the presidential campaign to New York, where Trump can make offers to voters in some of the states he needs to win in November.

As the day drew to a close, Merchan continued his criticism as he aired among his appeals a Supreme Court ruling barring him from participating in arguments over whether he is entitled to presidential immunity brought against another criminal. cases.

“This is about election interference,” Trump said outside the courtroom.

He posted articles on social media, including on Truth Social, condemning the case, saying “is politically oriented” and reposting support of various defenders.

As in his other dealings, Trump has not hesitated to use his latest legal mess to bolster his campaign.

At the same time, a fundraising text message went out saying he would “never give up.” Trump’s fundraising has surged amid potential legal threats, giving him a much-needed financial and messaging boost as he embarks on another White House stint.

On the first day of the trial, Trump turned the court case into his position.

“I LEAVE THE COURT WELL!” he hit the message. “They think I’m done, but I’ll never give up.”

Is it accepted or not?

Trump, sitting at the defense table, watched on a monitor as prosecutors presented evidence to the court that Trump’s attorneys should not be admitted. Here’s an excerpt from Trump’s testimony in the E. Jean Carroll case, in which he defended his lewd comments on the Access Hollywood tape released in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, as well as his remarks at a campaign rally. when he expressed concern at the end of the election cycle about what he said were false accusations.

According to prosecutors, jurors should know exactly what Trump said. They also showed tweets Trump said were evidence of a campaign to pressure Cohen not to cooperate with prosecutors.

Merchan reinforced a ruling that Access Hollywood could not be given to a jury — though it could be discussed — and barred prosecutors from introducing a deposition video about it.

When prosecutors asked Trump to provide evidence of alleged coordination with the National Enquirer to “catch and kill” stories that could destroy his 2016 campaign, Trump’s lawyer dismissed the request as a “sideshow.” Merchan ruled that the evidence would be admissible.

Merchan, who won for the defense, rejected a request by prosecutors to bring other allegations of sexual harassment against Trump. “Complete rumour,” he called them.

Merchan gave Trump 24 hours to enter the final exhibits into evidence. “You have 24 hours,” he said. “If you don’t fix it in the next 24 hours, you will be banned from using it.”

What’s next?

Merchan said he would wait until next week to hear arguments on whether Trump violated his gag order by posting social media comments about witnesses in the case.

Last week, Trump said he would “absolutely” testify in court, and on Tuesday Merchan will hold a hearing designed to ensure the decision is well informed. Known as the Sandoval hearing, Trump will examine what might come up during cross-examination while on the witness stand.

Merchan declined an April 25 apology to attend Supreme Court arguments on Trump’s immunity claim.

In another case, Trump argued that he could push back two filing deadlines on the grounds that his lawyers would be overburdened with the New York court over the next six weeks. The inquiry shows how the trial has become Trump’s team’s last chance to stop the legal charges against him.

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By 37ci3

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