Sun. May 26th, 2024

Get Ready for a Historic Moment: Trump About to Face First U.S. President Criminal Trial!

Alex Thompson By Alex Thompson May12,2024

It’s a day former President Trump hoped would never come. 

After a relentless pursuit for delay, Trump will make history Monday morning by taking his seat at the defense table in a Manhattan courtroom, where the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president will begin. 

For four days a week – for six or more weeks – the presumptive Republican nominee will sit in a dingy room roughly the size of a basketball court face-to-face with 12 New Yorkers who will decide whether to make Trump a convicted felon before he goes before voters this November. 

The start of jury selection marks a monumental moment in Trump’s intertwined political and legal campaigns, where the former president’s criminal cases have become an inherent component of his third bid for a shot at the White House. 

But of Trump’s four criminal indictments, it is the hush money case that jumped out in front – the case in which legal observers agree he faces the least serious charges. It remains unclear whether any of the former president’s other indictments will reach a jury this year. 

Trump constantly rails against his legal troubles, accusing everyone from judges to prosecutors to President Biden himself of targeting him politically to prevent him from running for office again. None of the accusations have been proven to have merit but that hasn’t stopped Trump from ranting incessantly at every turn even as gag orders hang over him.

“They weaponize government, and they take me to court on bullshit,” Trump said in a video posted to Truth Social last week. 

Trump faces 34 low-level felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with his reimbursements to his then-fixer, Michael Cohen, for paying porn actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 in October 2016 to stay quiet about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump.  

Trump, who denies the affair, pleaded not guilty. 

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) will attempt to broaden the story beyond hush money and cast it as one of election interference, claiming Trump engaged in a criminal scheme to hide damaging information from voters during his 2016 campaign and right before his November victory that year. 

To prove it, Bragg is expected to bring in key members of Trump’s orbit at the time, including White House aides, Trump Organization employees and campaign staffers. 

Trump will sit just feet away as they each take the stand. The former president is required to attend the trial, which will be held on all weekdays except Wednesdays. It’s expected to last six weeks but could also easily stretch well into June, bringing the epicenter of his presidential campaign back into a courtroom. 

“There are accusations here that are harmful to Trump and his campaign narrative,” said Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University. “We’re going to hear more about Michael Cohen. We’re going to hear more about Stormy Daniels. We’re going to hear about alleged affairs.  

“None of that is what Trump wants to talk about,” she said. 

No cameras will document the proceeding as it unfolds – except for a small group of still photographers allowed to quickly snap a few shots each morning after Trump enters. 

As he’s done countless times before, Trump is likely to flip the script. 

Each time he enters or exits the two sets of doors at the back of the courtroom, he’ll be able to speak to cameras stationed in the hallway as he did during his civil fraud trial late last year, which served as a practice run for how his criminal trial will go. 

Surrounded by his entourage of lawyers, aides and Secret Service, Trump repeatedly delivered off-cuff remarks to the gaggle of camped-out journalists outside the fraud trial courtroom, where he railed against the New York attorney general’s case and the judge overseeing it. He also transformed his campaign into an outlet to fundraise off the case, sometimes sending perfectly timed email blasts soliciting contributions right as hearing proceedings began. 

On Saturday, Trump at a Pennsylvania campaign rally said he’d be “fighting for the freedom of 325 million Americans” at his upcoming trial.

“I’m proud to do it for you. Have a good time watching,” he told the crowd.

But Trump faces greater speech restrictions in his hush money case  that limits his statements about jurors, witnesses and the judge’s family, among others, placing his words under greater scrutiny. 

“I think the DA is always going to be monitoring everything he says during the lunch break and at the end of the day, just to see how close to the line he comes to violating that gag order,” said Catherine Christian, a former Manhattan special assistant district attorney now in private practice. 

Inside the courtroom, Trump has been known to put on a show, too. 

Despite there not being cameras, Trump is aware he still has an audience in his densely packed courtrooms watching his every move. It mostly comprises journalists and law clerks, but sometimes also the presiding judge’s family, other sitting judges and members of the public.  

Onlookers in the hush money courtroom at recent pre-trial hearings have applauded Trump and even winked. The former president enters and exits the room through the gallery down the center aisle, along the way passing a few feet away from Bragg, the district attorney.  

At the counsel table, Trump tends to intervene in his legal team’s strategy in real-time, often passing notes, whispering and even directing his lawyers to object more forcefully. 

But he’s also been admonished by judges for lashing out, vocally cutting in with his frustrations as he did during the civil defamation trial involving advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, which also took place in New York. Judges have threatened to kick him out of the courtroom – but other times, he’s left on his own, storming out in the middle of proceedings. 

As opposed to his recent civil trials, Trump is legally required to attend the upcoming one, which makes things much different.

“He can’t do what he did there,” said Christian. “There’s no getting up and walking out.” 

Justice Juan Merchan, who will oversee the hush money trial, also has less leeway than past judges to remove Trump from the courtroom. The judge can only do so if he warns Trump and he continues to act in a “disorderly and disruptive” manner. 

When it comes to testifying, it’s unclear if Trump will take the stand in the hush money case but several other high-profile witnesses are expected to testify. 

Daniels, the porn actress with whom Trump allegedly had an affair, plus two other individuals whose stories were quashed are expected to testify. Top campaign and business aides, including 2016 campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks and ex-Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney, could take the stand. And the media executives who helped make the “catch-and-kill” scheme possible are also set to be witnesses. 

Trump will also come face to face once more with Cohen, his fixer-turned-foe. 

Though a conviction could reap devastating consequences for the former president, an acquittal or mistrial could strengthen an argument at the heart of his campaign – that his criminal charges are baseless and proof of a political “witch hunt” against him. 

“If the prosecution is not successful on the first case, there’s a danger for people feeling like, ‘Well, all of these cases must be baseless,’” Levinson said. “And that’s why I think for people who want Trump to be held accountable for many of his actions, there’s anxiety that this is the case going forward.” 

Alex Thompson

By Alex Thompson

Alex is an award-winning journalist with a passion for investigative reporting. With over 15 years of experience in the field, Alex has covered a wide range of topics from politics to entertainment. Known for in-depth research and compelling storytelling, Alex's work has been featured in major news outlets around the world.

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2 thoughts on “Get Ready for a Historic Moment: Trump About to Face First U.S. President Criminal Trial!”
    1. It’s highly anticipated that the outcome of Trump’s trial will significantly influence the upcoming elections, potentially swaying undecided voters and shaping public perception of the former president’s integrity.

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