Trump hush-money trial begins in New York City with jury selection

Former President Trump’s trial, which stems from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation into hush-money payments before the 2016 presidential election, is scheduled to begin with jury selection on Monday.

The New York City trial will be the first of the election year for the 2024 Republican presidential candidates.President Trump pleads not guilty to all charges.

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Manhattan Judge Juan Marchan will preside over the trial. Trump’s lawyers had filed a motion to recuse Marchan from the trial, citing his daughter’s Democratic Party-affiliated political activities and the judge’s “hostility” toward the potential 2024 Republican presidential nominee. .

What crime is Mr. Trump facing in the hush money case?

Mr. Bragg indicted Mr. Trump last April on 34 counts of first-degree falsification of business records. The charges are related to allegations of hush money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The DA alleged that President Trump “repeatedly fraudulently falsified New York business records in order to conceal criminal conduct that withheld information harmful to voters during the 2016 presidential election.”

Former President Trump is seen in New York City on March 25, 2024. (Adam Gray, Fox News Digital)

“During the campaign, Mr. Trump and others engaged in a ‘catch-and-kill’ scheme to identify, purchase, and dispose of negative information about Mr. Trump to improve his election chances,” Bragg wrote in an indictment last year. “I have adopted it,” he claimed. “Trump then did everything in his power to cover up this conduct, causing dozens of false entries in his business records to cover up his criminal conduct, including attempts to violate state and federal election laws.”

President Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony charges of falsifying business records related to 2016 hush money payments

According to New York state law, the charge of first-degree falsification of business records alleges that the defendant committed the crime of falsifying business records with intent to defraud. Intent to defraud is an intent to commit another crime.

In 2019, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York investigated the matter and decided against indicting Trump in connection with alleged payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Selected.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (File)

The Federal Election Commission also abandoned its investigation into the issue in 2021.

Bragg alleged that between August 2015 and December 2017, Trump “orchestrated a ‘catch-and-kill’ scheme through a series of payments that were then covered up through months of false business reports.”

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Mr. Bragg also said that American Media, the parent company of the National Enquirer, paid $30,000 to a former Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have a story about Mr. Trump’s out-of-wedlock child. he claimed.

Prosecutors also alleged that American Media paid $150,000 to a woman who claimed to have had a sexual relationship with President Trump. Bragg appears to be referring to McDougall.

Trump was indicted

A photo of former President Trump was published in a newspaper on March 31, 2023, after he was indicted by a grand jury in New York City in connection with hush money payments. (Reuters/David “Dee” Delgado)

Bragg also claimed that Trump “expressly instructed his lawyers,” an apparent reference to his former lawyer Michael Cohen, to “repay” American Media in cash. It seems that he was instructed to do so. He claimed that Cohen wired $130,000 to the adult film actress’ attorney “12 days before the presidential election,” an apparent reference to Daniels.

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Cohen pleaded guilty in 2019 and was sentenced to three years in prison for campaign finance violations related to the payments, among other federal charges. Mr. Cohen has pleaded guilty to arranging the payments, but maintains that Mr. Trump directed them.

After the election, Mr. Bragg said Mr. Trump sent a series of monthly checks to Mr. Cohen “initially at the Donald J. “The money was repaid from the trust and then from Mr. Trump’s bank account.” , 11 checks were issued for false purposes. ”

Stormy and Pierce

Stormy Daniels sits down with Piers Morgan for an interview available on Fox Nation. (Fox News)

“Nine of those checks were signed by Trump,” Bragg charged. “Each check was processed by the Trump Organization and illegally disguised as payment for legal services provided pursuant to a non-existent retainer agreement.”

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“A total of 34 false entries were made in New York business records to conceal the initial secret $130,000 payment. …Furthermore, participants in this scheme misrepresented the nature of the redemptions for tax purposes. We have taken steps to recognize this.”

Why did Mr. Bragg sue Mr. Trump in the hush money investigation?

Bragg, who stepped in as district attorney midway through the investigation first led by then-prosecutor Cyrus Vance, initially signaled he would drop the case and not charge Trump. His stance on the issue led to the resignation of prosecutors in the office and the launch of a public pressure campaign.

Karen McDougall

Former President Trump and Playboy model Karen McDougal (File)

The trial was scheduled to begin on March 25, but was postponed due to new documents submitted to prosecutors and Trump’s defense by the Justice Department. These materials were used during federal investigations into the matter in 2018 and 2019.

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How President Trump repeatedly asked for the trial to be dismissed or postponed

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have sought to further delay the case, or thrown it out entirely by arguing that there should be no trial until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on presidential immunity.

Marchand rejected Trump’s request, calling it “not a good time.”

Lawyers for Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, had asked for the New York trial to be postponed indefinitely until Trump’s immunity claims in the election interference case in Washington, D.C., are resolved. The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments this month and issue a decision in mid-June.

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President Trump has argued that he is immune from prosecution for actions he allegedly committed while in office. His lawyers argue that some of the evidence and alleged conduct in the hush-money case overlaps with his time in the White House and constitutes official conduct.

The Court of Appeals upheld Mr. Marchand’s denial.

Judge Machan poses for a photo

Judge Juan Melchan poses for a photo in the courtroom on March 14, 2024. Jury selection in former President Trump’s hush money trial is scheduled to begin on Monday. (AP)

Meanwhile, Marchand, who had argued that Trump’s legal team should recuse himself from the case, accepted Bragg’s request and placed a gag order on the former president and likely 2024 Republican presidential nominee. .

Trump’s lawyers said Marchan’s daughter, Lauren Marchan, “has a direct financial interest in these litigations through her ownership and leadership role in Authentic Campaigns.” They said she “serves only Democratic clients” and is “the 21st ranked vendor in the country related to the 2024 election.”

“In 2019, Mr. Marchand made public statements on his podcast regarding his conversations with His Excellency, which reflected the biases of both speakers toward President Trump in that exchange,” Blanche said Friday. wrote. “Consistent with that conversation, President Biden and Vice President Harris, as well as many other politicians and organizations currently actively campaigning against and defending President Trump, announced that Mr. Authentic and Mr. I am a long-term customer of Mr.

Trump’s lawyers also said that at least six of Authentic’s clients had made “fundraising solicitations that referred to the case before the indictment, the timing of President Trump’s arraignment, or after the court denied President Trump’s motion to recuse.” He also said:

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Mr. Bragg first indicted Mr. Trump last year. His trial is the first of four charges facing the former president and prospective nominee.

Mr. Trump has pleaded not guilty in all four cases led by Mr. Bragg. They are led by Special Counsel Jack Smith. The other is led by Fani Willis, District Attorney of Fulton County, Georgia.