The Trump trial is underway with historic jury selection for a former president

The First Criminal Investigation The trial of a former president in American history is officially underway in a crowded Manhattan courtroom, where prosecutors and defense attorneys are discussing The People of the State of New York v. Donald J begins the difficult task of empaneling a 12-member jury in the case. Trump.

Flanked by his attorneys in Room 1530 of the Manhattan Criminal Court, Trump sits at a table where dozens of defendants appear before him. Monday's proceedings saw lawyers for both sides argue over several aspects of the case, including what evidence should be admitted and what questions to ask potential jurors.

The first 96 of the several hundred New York residents on the jury panel were sworn in shortly after 2 p.m., formally marking the start of the historic trial. More than half were quickly fired after saying they could not be fair and impartial. Others were dismissed for undisclosed reasons saying they could not work. Others were excused based on their answers to the questionnaire.

Trump has been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records related to a “Hush money” charges His lawyer did it to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, saying they were part of a conspiracy by Democrats to prevent him from retaking the White House. This is the first of four criminal cases against Trump.

The presumptive Republican nominee for president spoke to reporters before entering the courtroom.

“This is really an attack on a political enemy. That's all,” Trump said. “So I'm very proud to be here.”

Day one of the Trump hearings

Former President Donald Trump attends the first day of his “hush money” trial in Manhattan Criminal Court on April 15, 2024 in New York City.

Jefferson Siegel/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Judge Juan Merchan took his seat on the bench before 10am and called proceedings to order. He immediately refused a request by Trump's legal team to recuse himself from the case. Trump's attorneys argued that Mercen should step aside because his daughter works at a consulting firm that works for Democratic candidates and progressive groups. Merchon said their argument rested on “constant assumptions, manipulations and unsupported allegations”.

Trump's attorneys and attorneys from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office argued some of the outstanding issues related to the evidence, the rules for the trial and the questions potential jurors will answer.

Joshua Steinglass, a member of the Prague panel, said the prosecution would present evidence that Trump conspired with his former lawyer Michael Cohen and an executive at the National Enquirer's parent company to suppress damaging stories about Trump and publish negative news about his rivals. Before the 2016 elections.

Steinglass said Becker would testify that David Becker, then CEO of American Media Inc., “ran these stories to promote Mr. Trump's campaign” and that they were shown to Mr. Trump before they were published so he could approve. , recommend or reject changes.” Steinglass said prosecutors will introduce evidence that points to “an agreement between the defendant and AMI to put their thumb on the scale.”

Trump's lawyer, Todd Blanche, said the evidence “has nothing to do with the crime charged.” Merson quickly said he would allow prosecutors to use the evidence at trial.

Merson also said he would allow evidence related to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who sold the rights to her story to the National Enquirer, alleging an affair with Trump.

Other rulings went in favor of the defense. Merson reiterated an earlier decision that the infamous Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump can be heard talking about raping women, would not be played for the jury. He also disallowed the tape of Trump discussing the tape during an unrelated deposition.

Later, the lawyers indicated they would ask the judge why Trump should not be held in contempt for apparently violating the gag order imposed by Mercen weeks ago. The order limits what Trump can say publicly about many people involved in the case, including potential witnesses. Trump has attacked two well-known figures Key witnesses in the case, Cohen and Daniels, in social media posts since Merson issued his order. Prosecutors asked the judge to fine the three Trump posts $1,000 each and order their removal. Merson said he would hear arguments on the matter next week.

At several points during the arguments, Trump appeared to fall asleep at the defense table, his chin briefly dropped to his chest. On one occasion, Blanche, his lawyer, touched his shoulder and spoke to him.

Arbitrator selection process

A courtroom sketch shows former President Donald Trump at the defense table during the first day of his criminal trial in New York, Monday, April 15, 2024.

Jane Rosenberg

96 once the pre-final exam questions are solved More than 500 members They were led into the jury room. About 200 people were present in the court.

Merson began by laying out the allegations against Trump, namely that he “falsified business records to conceal an agreement with others to illegally influence the 2016 presidential election.” He continued, referring to Cohen and Daniels.

“Specifically, Donald Trump is alleged to have made or caused false business records to conceal the true nature of payments made to Michael Cohen, classifying them as fees for legal services rendered pursuant to the retainer agreement,” Merchan said. “The [prosecutors] In fact, she alleges that the payments were made to reimburse Michael Cohen for payments he made to Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, in the weeks leading up to the presidential election to prevent her from publicly disclosing details of a past sexual encounter with Donald Trump. “

About three dozen potential jurors who have not been dismissed are being asked to respond 42 additional questions From the mundane — like whether they follow Trump on social media — to what jobs they hold — to the more pointed. Some will be called for a personal hearing.

Trump's attorneys and prosecutors will try to whittle the pool of potential jurors down to just 12 and a half-dozen alternates, a process expected to take at least a week and possibly longer. Once the arbitrator is selected, both sides will begin to present their cases, with the litigant first.

As a criminal defendant, Trump must attend the hearing every day of the trial, unless he applies for and is granted immunity. Court staff and lawyers from both sides have said they expect the trial to last six to eight weeks.

Merson reminded Trump that he must be in court every day of the trial and issued a standing warning to all criminal defendants that he would be arrested if he failed to appear.

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