Trump on Trial This Week: What to Expect

Trump on Trial This Week: What to Expect
Former President Donald Trump and his lawyer Todd Blanche in the court room before the start April 19 2024....Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York City April 19 2024 , where he is facing felony charges related to a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. It marks the first time in history that a former U.S. president has been tried on criminal charges.

Opening statements for the first criminal case against former President Donald Trump to go to trial are set for Monday morning, April 22, in downtown Manhattan. The former president faces a total of 88 criminal charges across four indictments, down three after a Georgia judge struck several counts from a racketeering indictment weeks ago.

Jury selection was finalized on Friday, seating 12 jurors and six alternates.

After opening statements, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan has scheduled a Tuesday hearing over allegations that President Trump violated his gag order by referencing and posting links to commentary about key witnesses in the case. Also expected in the next few days is a ruling by Justice Merchan over whether prosecutors will be able to question President Trump about his recent civil cases that found him liable for fraud, sexual battery, and defamation.

Prosecutors’ Case

The Manhattan District Attorney has charged President Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records, alleging this was done in order to cover up bribery payments to kill negative news stories during the 2016 election cycle.

The alleged cover-up bumps the misdemeanor charges up to a low-class felony, which rarely does, but could, result in jail time.

“The defendant, in the County of New York and elsewhere, on or about February 14, 2017, with intent to defraud and intent to commit another crime and aid and conceal the commission thereof, made and caused a false entry in the business records of an enterprise, to wit, an invoice from Michael Cohen dated February 14, 2017, marked as a record of the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, and kept and maintained by the Trump Organization,” reads the indictment, listing several check numbers that were allegedly falsified.

Mr. Cohen is a key witness in the case, having publicly claimed that he received $130,000 from the Trump trust as repayment for a bribe made to Stephanie Clifford, and adult performer better known by her stage name, Stormy Daniels, to prevent her from going to the press with the story of an alleged affair with Donald Trump.

Ms. Clifford had put out a statement denying the affair, which she later retracted saying that she had only done so because she mistakenly believed a non-disclosure agreement she signed required it of her.

Prosecutors may argue that President Trump exerted pressure on these two witnesses to keep the alleged scheme under wraps.

They will also present evidence for their claim that former Playboy model Karen McDougal had an affair with Donald Trump as well, and that the National Enquirer’s parent company purchased the rights to her story in 2016 only to never publish it because of an agreement with then-candidate Trump. In other instances, $180,000 was paid to American Media Inc. to purchase and “kill” two other affair stories.

There are no charges related to these events, but prosecutors will argue that it establishes the alleged scheme was in place and that it was not a one-off.

Mr. Cohen alleges he had been paid more than $400,000 to cover up such stories.


Defense attorneys argue that payments to Mr. Cohen were retainer’s fees, and President Trump has pleaded not guilty to all 34 counts and maintains he did nothing wrong.

Asked whether he would take the witness stand even though it would allow prosecutors to ask about recent civil cases that found him liable for fraud, sexual battery, and defamation, he gave reporters a resounding “yes!” and added that the cases against him had no legal merit.

While the defense has been blocked from arguing that the timing of this case is suspect, as President Trump has done in public statements, they will seek to discredit Mr. Cohen, and thus the claims that form the basis of the case.

Mr. Cohen has previously made inconsistent statements related to his claims about President Trump, his former employer, though the claims have led to two separate cases.

In 2018, when Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law, he claimed he made the alleged bribery payments at President Trump’s direction and had been reimbursed for them. Separately, he issued a statement that he made those payments out of pocket, that they were not campaign contributions, and that the Trump Organization was not a party to the transaction.

Last year, during a civil fraud trial against President Trump, Mr. Cohen opened his testimony by stating that he had lied to the federal judge when he took that plea bargain, which included charges related to tax evasion. During his day and a half of testimony, he backtracked a number of times and was evasive to the point of frustrating the judge.

Impartial Jury?

A Trump attorney on Sunday said that if the court has indeed seated an “impartial jury,” President Trump would see an acquittal.

Will Scharf described the case as “outrageous” on an appearance on “Fox and Friends,” arguing that it showed the “politicization of our system of law enforcement in the courts under the Biden administration.”

“I think any fair and impartial jury will see through all the sensationalism and all the media coverage and would feel honor-bound to vote to acquit here, and we’re hoping that’s what will play out in New York,” Mr. Scharf said.

Over the past week, prospective jurors who did not ask to be excused from the outset had repeatedly affirmed they could be “fair and impartial” when quizzed by attorneys from the prosecution and defense. A number of them were still dismissed, when attorneys found social media posts or records that cast doubt on their credibility and honesty, though each side was allowed only 10 strikes.

From The Epoch Times

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