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Trump Hush Trial: Former President Faces Jury in Unprecedented Criminal Case

Trump Hush Trial

Jury selection in New York State’s hush-money trial against former US President Donald Trump began on Monday (April 15). Trump is accused of falsifying business records to hide the fact that he paid hush money. He paid the hush money before his successful presidential bid in 2016 to suppress allegations that he had an extramarital affair.

This trial is unprecedented in American history. Trump is the first former US president in history to face criminal charges and face jail time if convicted.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan called 96 potential jurors into his courtroom and began asking them: Do they have any biases, good or bad? Regardless of how they feel about the 45th President of the United States, can they reach a fair verdict in this case?

More than 50 people raised their hands, said they could not be fair, and were summarily dismissed. The number of people was beyond ordinary.

Juan Merchan is not expected to ask potential jurors how they voted when Trump was running for president in 2016 and 2020. Among 42 questions, he plans to ask potential jurors what sources they rely on to read and listen to the day’s news, whether they attended political rallies for or against Trump, and whether they belong to any controversial groups that oppose the actions of the federal government.

The process of selecting 12 jurors and six alternates could take several days. After questioning 10 potential jurors, Merson adjourned the case for the day.

During the morning session, Juan Merchan quickly rejected a second request from Trump’s lawyers. They asked Juan Merchan to recuse himself from the case, citing his alleged bias against the former president.

Juan Merchan heard several legal arguments on the evidence in the case and issued rulings, some in Trump’s favor and some in favor of prosecutors. Hours later, Juan Merchan called the first possible jurors, some of whom struggled to catch a glimpse of Trump.

About 500 New Yorkers have received subpoenas as potential jurors. They may be questioned in the future if there is a need to fill a jury pool.

Juan Merchan introduced Trump and lawyers for the case and said the trial would likely last six weeks.

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“This prosecution is unprecedented. It’s an attack on America. So I’m very proud to be here,” Trump said as he arrived in court. His 2024 presidential campaign issued a fundraising appeal shortly afterward and mentioned the case.

Trump, who is certain to be the Republican nominee in November’s presidential election, watched the court proceedings from the dock, accompanied by his lawyers. During the afternoon court session, he seemed to doze off several times, then shake his head and wake up again.

Ultimately, he may or may not defend himself on the witness stand, depending on his and his attorney’s judgment of the prosecution’s evidence.

Trump, who served as U.S. president from early 2017 to January 2021, has repeatedly criticized his prosecution and blasted Juan Merchan.

Last week, Trump complained on his social media platform, Truth Social: “Nothing like this has ever happened in our country before. On Monday, I will be banned and forced to sit in a chair with a height Conflicts of interest and corrupt judges, his hatred for me knows no bounds.”

The case will almost certainly take the 77-year-old candidate away from the campaign trail for a lot of time because of the court appearances he has to make. He is currently trying to take back the White House from Democratic President Joe Biden. Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 presidential election, but to this day, Trump still falsely claims that he was not re-elected for another four years due to electoral fraud.

Trump is accused of concealing a $130,000 hush-money payment he made to porn star Stormy Daniels before the election. The hush money was intended to keep her from publicly negotiating her claims that she had a one-night stand with Trump. Daniels claimed she had a one-night stand with Trump less than four months after his wife, Melania, gave birth to their son, Barron.

In the second case, the indictment alleges that former Playboy Girl of the Year Karen McDougal said she had an extramarital affair with Trump for several months and was paid $15 by a gossip magazine. bought the rights to her story for $10,000 and then, at Trump’s urging, suppressed the news.

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Trump has denied both extramarital affairs and all 34 allegations in the New York case, including that he directed one-time political fixer Michael Cohen to pay Daniels before he became president in 2017, reimbursed Cohen for the first year, and listed the monthly payments to Cohen as legal expenses in Trump’s business records.

Altering company books is a misdemeanor, but to prove that Trump committed a felony, prosecutors must convince jurors that he also committed an underlying crime, such as trying to influence the outcome of the 2016 election by withholding information from voters about an alleged extramarital affair.

The hush money payment itself is not illegal, and Trump could argue that the payment was intended to avoid the disclosure of embarrassing personal life moments, not to influence the 2016 election.

Ultimately, a 12-member jury must reach a unanimous decision to either convict Trump or acquit him. If one or more jurors cannot agree with the remaining jurors, it becomes a “hung jury” and cannot reach a verdict.

Each of these charges carries a potential prison sentence of four years. However, Trump is certain to appeal any guilty verdict and sentencing.

The New York case is one of four unprecedented sentencing prosecutions against Trump. He faces a total of 88 charges in these four criminal indictments. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Some legal analysts consider the hush money case to be the least important of the four criminal cases he faces. But it is also likely to be the only case to go to trial before the Nov. 5 election.

Federal prosecutors and the state of Georgia have separately accused Trump of illegally trying to overturn the results of his 2020 election defeat. In a fourth case, federal prosecutors accuse him of illegally taking hundreds of highly classified national security documents to his Florida beachfront estate at the end of his term as president and refusing to cooperate after investigators demanded their return.

No specific trial dates have been set for those three cases, which have been delayed by pretrial hearings and legal arguments. Trump tried to delay the trial date until after the election. If he wins, he could seek to have federal authorities drop the case. In any case, if he were to take power again, he would not be put on trial while he was president.

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Cohen later turned against his former boss. He is expected to be a key witness against Trump. Cohen pleaded guilty to election finance charges and lying to Congress, among other charges in the case. He was imprisoned for a total of about 13 and a half months for several crimes and was detained at home for another year and a half.

Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and McDougal are also expected to testify.

Prosecutors may also call Hope Hicks to the witness stand. Hicks, a longtime Trump aide, witnessed the behind-the-scenes campaign planning leading up to the 2016 vote.

Since he was indicted a year ago, Trump has blasted the allegations in the hush-money case. He claims these and other accusations against him are part of a conspiracy by Biden and Democrats to prevent him from returning to the White House. He called it “election interference.”

There is no evidence Biden played any role in the prosecution Trump faces.

Trump complained after Judge Merson issued his first order barring him from rhetorically attacking key figures who might testify against him. Those key figures include Daniels, whom Trump often calls “horseface.”

Trump later attacked the judge’s daughter, Loren Merchan, on his Truth social platform. She is a key principal at a political consulting firm that has worked for Biden’s 2020 campaign and other Democrats.

“This judge should recuse himself, and this case should be dismissed,” Trump argued. “There really have never been as many conflicts of interest as this judge. The worst kind of election interference!”

Merson ignored Trump’s sarcasm but tightened the gag order, prohibiting him from attacking relatives of the judge or the chief judge in the case. Relatives of prosecutor Alvin Bragg.

Juan Merchan said the gag order against Trump was justified because of his conduct in recent court cases. The judge cited “threatening, inflammatory, and insulting” statements Trump has made.

Trump said the gag order prohibited his freedom of speech.

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