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Six lessons from Trump’s New York hush money trial’s first day

  • Trump’s trial for falsifying records marks significant legal milestone
  • Prosecution seeks Trump’s conviction on hush-money payments
  • Jury selection begins amidst tense atmosphere in courtroom

Thus does it commence? Former United States President Donald Trump entered a New York courtroom on Monday for the commencement of his trial on charges of falsifying business records, marking a momentous occasion.

He was the first president of the United States, current or former, to stand trial on criminal charges.

As per the presiding judge, Juan Merchan, the proceedings commenced on Monday and are anticipated to last for six weeks.

This is the initial of four distinct criminal trials that Trump is scheduled to confront. It occurs during his campaign for the presidency in 2024.

Prosecutors are seeking to secure the former president’s conviction on 34 felony charges in connection with purported hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges an extramarital relationship with him.

Prosecutors have contended that his intention in concealing the payments was not solely to avert negative publicity but also to manipulate information available to voters months before the 2016 presidential election. Ultimately, Trump emerged victorious in that election.

Trumps new york
Six lessons from trump's new york hush money trial's first day

Trump arrived at the Manhattan court on Monday donning his signature ensemble, which consisted of a blue suit, red tie, and US flag lapel pin. Alongside a small number of supporters and protestors, he was greeted by throngs of reporters and television cameras.

Upon entering the premises, the prosecution and defence commenced jury selection, a process that, considering the political sensitivity of the situation, could potentially last for weeks.

Six key conclusions from the first day of the New York trial are as follows:

Trump brands the prosecution an “attack on America”

As soon as he entered the courtroom, Trump established the tone for his defence.

The 77-year-old former president characterised the trial as a “political persecution” and “an assault on America.”

Trump has consistently characterised the allegations levelled against him as a “witch-hunt” for political advantage. In addition to his numerous legal issues, he has utilised the legal proceedings against him to galvanise his base and solicit contributions.

Early in the day, for example, a “fact sheet” regarding the trial was disseminated by Trump’s campaign in an attempt to portray it as a strategic manoeuvre to influence the outcome of the presidential election in November.

“First fact: President Trump committed no wrongdoing. The email stated, “These allegations are completely false with the intention of disrupting the election and diverting attention away from the unsuccessful presidency of Crooked Joe Biden.”

Outside the courtroom, Trump reiterated this motif, this time targeting Biden, his likely opponent in November.

Trump stated, “It is a failing nation that is being led by an incompetent individual who is heavily invested in this case.” “This is in fact an assault on a political adversary.” “Simple as that, it is an immense privilege to be in attendance.”

Moreover, he levelled partisan allegations against the presiding judge and the primary prosecutors in the case, including Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

“It is a fraud.” A political witch investigation is underway. It persists and persists eternally. “Furthermore, we will not receive a fair trial,” he ultimately stated to reporters.

The judge remains recused from the case.

Judge Merchan rejected once more a request from Trump’s defence team to recuse himself from the trial at the onset of the day’s proceedings.

Because Merchan’s daughter is a consultant for Democrats, Trump’s team has alleged that the judge has a conflict of interest and should recuse herself from the case.

Merchan, however, stated that the defence’s request was founded “on an unsubstantiated series of references, insinuations, and speculation.”

On multiple occasions, Trump’s attorneys have endeavoured to postpone the trial, in part by requesting that the judge recuse himself from the proceedings. Trump has also levelled “corrupt” allegations against Merchant.

An identical request to recuse himself was denied by Merchan the previous year.

The prosecution claims Trump ought to pay for violating the prohibition order.
Prosecutors also attempted to penalise Trump on Monday for alleged violations of a court prohibition order.

In March, Judge Merchan issued a prohibition order against Trump, which forbade him from expressing any opinions regarding potential witnesses or their “potential participation” in the case.

However, prosecutors stated on Monday that he had at least three times disregarded the order.

They referenced recent social media posts authored by Trump, one of which discussed Michael Cohen, his former attorney and adviser. His characterization of Trump as a “disgraced attorney and felon” undermined his credibility.

It is anticipated that Cohen’s testimony will be crucial to the prosecution’s case.

“The defendant has exhibited an openness to disobeying the order.” In the case, he has assailed witnesses. “He has previously assaulted grand jurors in the case,” stated prosecutor Christopher Conroy.

Prosecutors requested a $1,000 fine against Trump per post from the magistrate. Judge Merchan stated that a hearing regarding the restraining order would be held later in the month.

The Access Hollywood cassette is not to be played.

However, Judge Merchan promptly declined the prosecution’s request to play an Access Hollywood recording wherein Trump boasted about groping women by the genitalia.

Merchan ruled comparably a month ago, permitting the prosecution to deliberate on the recording but prohibiting its playback in court. He added that prosecutors may also query witnesses regarding the recording.

The defence team for Trump has contended that exposing the recording to the jury would have a “prejudicial” effect.

Conversely, the prosecution has contended that the recording is crucial in bolstering its case. During the final weeks of the 2016 presidential election, when Trump was under scrutiny for his relationships with women, the recording became public.

Prosecutors aim to establish that the aforementioned public pressure catalyzed Trump’s hush-money schemes, given his purported efforts to stifle critical press coverage.

Commencement of an extensive jury selection procedure

Following some legal wrangling between the prosecution and the defence, jury selection commenced: the day’s primary event.

A pool of over 500 potential jurors has been assembled for assessment; on Monday, 96 of them were extended invitations to enter the courtroom.

Both the prosecution and defence will choose twelve jurors, in addition to six alternates, from the extensive pool.

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“You are about to take part in a jury trial.” “One of the pillars of our judicial system is the trial by jury system,” Judge Merchan informed the 96 prospective jurors in the morning.

A questionnaire was distributed to each potential juror to determine their political leanings.

They were queried regarding their residential locations, occupations, educational attainment, and media consumption habits. Furthermore, they were queried regarding their perceived ability to serve as a “fair and impartial juror” and whether they held any firm convictions regarding Trump.

During the hearing on Monday, Judge Merchan expeditiously dismissed the potential jurors.

A majority of the 96 jurors in attendance raised their palms in protest, declaring their inability to maintain objectivity in the case. Consequently, all of these jurors were promptly dismissed. On Monday, no jurors were convened.

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