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Trump's trial began in New York: what you need to know about the sensational case


ForumDaily New York

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On April 15, Donald Trump's money fraud trial began in Manhattan. This will be the first time a US president will stand trial on criminal charges, reports FoxNews.

Historical judicial The proceedings will require Trump, the Republican nominee in the 2024 US presidential election, to take a break from campaigning during the height of the election season.

We bring to your attention answers to the most popular questions about this case.

What are the origins of this case

The process, called the “hush money case,” began in October 2016. Then it became known that Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen paid one-time porn actress Stormy Daniels $130 to allegedly withdraw a statement about an alleged extramarital affair with Trump in 000. Trump denies having an affair with Daniels.

On the subject: Hundreds of truckers have decided not to carry cargo to New York anymore: they are angry with the city because of Trump

It is expected that the case will involve two more payments, including $30 to the doorman Trump Tower. He claimed that Trump fathered an illegitimate child. Another payout was $150 to a Playboy model named Karen McDougal. She claimed she had an affair with Trump and sold her story to a tabloid. Trump categorically denied these accusations.

Prosecutors say Trump organization reimbursed Cohen for expenses and fraudulently recorded the payments as legal fees.

What are the charges in the case?

Trump was charged in April 2023 with 34 counts of first-degree falsification of business records.

The charges relate to reimbursement of expenses to Cohen in 2016. Cohen was arrested in 2018 and pleaded guilty to campaign finance charges and lying to Congress. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Falsifying business records is an offense. But prosecutors are working to prove that Trump falsified records with the intent to commit or conceal a second crime, which would have been a felony.

Could Trump go to jail?

Charges against Trump carry more than ten years in prison if he is found guilty on all charges.

Legal experts across the country have concluded that it is unlikely that Trump would face a long prison sentence if convicted. The 45th president of the United States is expected to instead be given probation or up to four years in prison if a jury finds him guilty.

How Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Turned the Case into a Felony

Prosecutors brought the case alleging Trump falsified business records to cover up another crime. This makes falsifying business records a criminal offense. Legal experts say prosecutors will argue that the alleged actions Trump were aimed at concealing crimes related to the financing of the election campaign.

Experts expressed skepticism that prosecutors linked the case to campaign finance crimes. Heritage Foundation senior attorney Zach Smith said prosecutors are trying to "essentially turn what would normally be misdemeanor charges into felonies."

The Justice Department "effectively concluded" its investigation into Trump's payments in 2019. And in 2021, the Federal Election Commission, the agency that enforces campaign finance laws, announced it was dropping its case into whether Trump violated election laws.

Former Federal Election Commission Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky stressed that both the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice declined to pursue the case, but Bragg is working to prove that Trump violated federal law.

Will Trump be able to pardon himself if he is elected US President?

In such a case, Trump will not be able to pardon himself if he is found guilty, even if he wins the election. The Constitution mandates that the President's pardon power "to grant reprieves and pardons for crimes against the United States." These powers apply only to federal cases. The Trump case is a matter of state jurisdiction.

Who's the judge

Manhattan Judge Juan M. Merchan, 61, is presiding over the case. Merchan is originally from Colombia. He has served on the New York Supreme Court since 2009, overseeing criminal cases. He was previously an assistant district attorney in Manhattan in the 1990s. In addition, Juan M. Merchan worked in the office of the New York State Attorney General. He previously oversaw high-profile cases, including presiding over the Trump Organization's 2022 criminal trial on charges of criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records.

Trump spoke out against Merchan. He called on the judge to recuse himself, citing Merchan's daughter and her work as a political consultant for Democratic politicians.

“Judge Juan Merchan, suffering from 'Acute Trump Derangement Syndrome' (whose daughter represents con man Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and other radical liberals), has now issued yet another illegal, un-American, unconstitutional 'order'. He keeps trying to take away my rights,” Trump wrote on Truth Social last month. He was then banned from speaking publicly about the case.

How the jury will be selected

A large group of potential jurors will be in the courtroom this week. They will be presented with an overview of the case and asked if they are able to speak fairly and impartially.

Those who show that they cannot be impartial will be removed. Those who remain will be asked the 42 questions that Merchan published in a letter last week.

Some of the questions:

  • “Do you have any political, moral, intellectual or religious beliefs or opinions that might prevent you from following the court's instructions as a matter of law or that might skew your approach to this case?”
  • “Have you read (or listened to audio of) any of the following books or podcasts by Michael Cohen or Mark Pomerantz?”
  • “Have you ever considered yourself a supporter of one of the following movements: QAnon movement; Proud Boys; Oathkeepers; Three Percenters; Boogaloo."
  • “Do you currently follow Donald Trump on any social media or have you done so in the past?”
  • “Do you have any feelings or opinions about the way Trump is being treated in this case?”

Jury selection will continue until the panel includes 12 New Yorkers and several alternate jurors.

What does Trump say about this case?

Trump has repeatedly opposed the case.

“They will make me sit with a gag in my mouth. I'm not allowed to talk. They want to take away my constitutional right to speak,” Trump said in Pennsylvania on April 13 at a campaign rally.

“I am proud of what I do for you,” he continued, calling the trial a “communist show trial” that he said was orchestrated by the Biden administration.

Trump has repeatedly denied charges in the case and has pleaded not guilty to 34 charges.

The 45th president told reporters on Friday that he would testify at the trial, which he called a "scam" and a "witch hunt."

“I am testifying. I am telling the truth. “I mean, all I can do is tell the truth,” he said on April 12. “And the truth is that there is no case.”

Will the trial be televised?

The trial will not be televised and is expected to last six to eight weeks. Under New York state law, Trump is required to remain in the courtroom throughout the trial.

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