Trump’s historic New York hush money trial begins with jury selection

Donald Trump will become the first former president in US history to stand trial on criminal charges when jury selection begins on Monday in a New York case that stems from payments made to an adult film actress ahead of the 2016 election.

Trump, who was the 45th president of the United States and is set for an election rematch with incumbent President Joe Biden in November, is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records as part of a scheme involving his former lawyer Michael Cohen to conceal the $130,000 pay-off made to Stormy Daniels.

Daniels said the money was given to keep her quiet about an affair she had with Trump in 2006. He has admitted to paying her on the eve of the 2016 election to stop her ‘false and extortionist accusations’ but denies any sexual encounter.

Trump’s lawyers made several unsuccessful attempts to have the hush money trial delayed, a tactic they have also used in the former president’s three other ongoing criminal cases.

The process of selecting a jury in New York, a h
eavily Democratic city, could take several days, with potentially hundreds of people ultimately whittled down to just 12 jurors and six alternates. The whole trial, in which Cohen and Daniels are expected to testify for the prosecution, could last up to eight weeks.

Trump, who has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, faces a maximum of four years behind bars if convicted.

At a press conference at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Friday, he told reporters he was ready to take the stand to defend himself. ‘I’m testifying. I tell the truth,’ Trump said, although it was far from certain the Republican real estate tycoon would actually undertake such a high-risk legal strategy.

In any case, Trump’s campaign for the presidency will collide with his courtroom obligations as he is required to be present every day of the historic trial, which is sure to generate a frenzy of media coverage.

Trump’s legal entanglements are extensive.

The most serious are his four criminal indictments in four different citie
s. Besides the New York case, two involve his alleged efforts to keep himself in power after Biden defeated him in 2020 and another concerns the retention of classified documents after leaving office. The three other trials do not yet have firm start dates.

Already this year Trump has been dealt major blows in two New York civil lawsuits, one accusing him and his organization of committing fraud and another for defaming magazine columnist E Jean Carroll when he denied her claims of sexual assault. Trump owes more than half a billion dollars in legal penalties in the combined cases.

Trump claims, without evidence, he is a victim of political persecution orchestrated by Democrats to keep him from the White House. Even if he is convicted, the Constitution does not prevent a felon from running for the presidency.

Trump and Biden remain locked in a neck-and-neck race, according to an opinion poll from the New York Times and Siena College released at the weekend, with Trump holding a 46% to 45% edge over Biden.

Source: Ghana News Agency