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Trump trial live: Opening statements set to begin Monday as his legal fees eat into campaign fund

Trump appears in court for fourth day of hush money trial

After a tense week of jury selection, Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial truly gets underway in earnest on Monday morning with opening statements from the prosecution and defence.

The 12 jurors and six alternates will then begin hearing evidence against the former president and his counter-argument before ultimately deciding his fate.

The defendant spent much of the weekend complaining about the case on Truth Social and angrily posting his presidential immunity claims — on which the Supreme Court will hear arguments this Thursday.

He was also forced to cancel a planned rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, due to bad weather while his wife Melania Trump returned to the campaign trail, helping a conservative LGBT+ group raise $1m at a Mar-a-Lago dinner.

Meanwhile, figures released by the Federal Election Commission on Saturday revealed that legal fees had eaten up three-quarters of the cash brought in by the pro-Trump Save America PAC, a key fundraising group.

Elsewhere among the myriad legal issues engulfing the former president, Monday will also see a hearing on whether to cancel Mr Trump’s $175m bond to appeal the civil fraud trial ruling and the public filing of witness statements in the classified documents case.

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New York hush money trial: The scene outside the court as day five dawns

Alex Woodward is back outside the court in Lower Manhattan for us once again this morning and reports:

“The gates for the staging area for press are still locked but there’s a line wrapping around the park in the meantime.

“There wasn’t an acknowledgement in court on Friday (probably for the best) of the man who self-immolated a few literal steps from where I’m standing now, and the security and police presence don’t seemed to have changed.

“We’re anticipating opening arguments from the prosecution and potentially a first witness, with speculation that it’s David Pecker.

“Justice Merchan will also likely handle any Sandoval business in the morning.”

The scene outside Manhattan Criminal Court early on day five of Donald Trump’s hush money trial (Alex Woodward/The Independent)

Joe Sommerlad22 April 2024 10:30

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New York hush money trial: What happened last week at jury selection?

Alex Woodward reported for The Independent from the courthouse in Lower Manhattan all of last week.

Here’s his look back at exactly what went down.

Joe Sommerlad22 April 2024 10:15

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New York hush money trial: David Pecker expected to be first witness

The New York Times reported last night that former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker is expected to be the first witness called by the prosecution this week.

MSNBC legal correspondent Lisa Rubin correctly called the Manhattan DA’s strategy a day earlier when she tweeted: “If I’m telling this story chronologically, the person I’d call first is this guy on the right, former American Media chairman David Pecker.

“According to the Manhattan DA’s statement of facts accompanying the indictment, the story begins with Trump’s infamous ride down the [escalator] in June 2015, when he declared his candidacy for president.

“But ‘soon after,’ in August 2015, Trump and Cohen met with Pecker, who offered to serve as the campaign’s ‘eyes and ears’ to help Trump – and hurt his rivals – through the National Enquirer’s coverage.

“That American Media made good on its promises is important, especially since it admitted to certain conduct through a non-prosecution agreement with DOJ in 2018 and this ‘conciliation agreement’ with the Federal Election Commission in 2021.

“But even more significant? Pecker can testify that Trump not only understood but heartily endorsed his publication’s offer to ‘catch and kill’ negative stories about him, especially as they pertained to Trump’s alleged extramarital affairs.

“And given how few people outside Michael Cohen directly communicated with Trump about the scheme at issue, Pecker’s testimony could be critical in establishing Trump’s intent and knowledge. FIN.”

Here’s a look at Pecker and the other key personnel likely to take the stand courtesy of Ariana Baio.

Meet the key players in Trump’s hush money trial

From a porn star and a Playboy model to a supermarket tabloid publisher – by way of a lawyer-turned-felon – the cast of characters in the first-ever criminal trial of a former president could hardly be more colourful. Ariana Baio reports

Joe Sommerlad22 April 2024 09:45

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New York hush money trial: Trump defence team sets out its strategy on eve of opening statements

A member of Trump’s legal team yesterday divulged the defence’s plan to “focus on the facts” to show that the former president did nothing wrong, one day before the opening arguments are set to begin in the landmark hush money trial.

Joe Sommerlad22 April 2024 09:15

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Truth Social: Trump slams ‘Soros Funded’ Alvin Bragg after calling for trial gag order to be removed

Posts like these seem extremely unlikely to endear the defendant to Judge Merchan and Alvin Bragg but Trump keeps right on “truthing” them anyway.

The first – invoking the right’s favourite liberal bogeyman, billionaire financier George Soros – finds him dabbling in antisemitic conspiracy theories to suggest the Manhattan DA is a puppet of shadowy and sinister forces. Entirely without evidence, of course.

That doesn’t stop him calling, with remarkable gall, for the removal of the gag order imposed on him by the judge.

Elsewhere, he’s been slamming the media for interviewing a former member of his own administration and threatening “non-profits” in a rather vague manner.

Joe Sommerlad22 April 2024 08:45

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All the wild hush money case defences Trump has given so far

Former president Donald Trump’s legal team has used various defences for — and attempts to delay — his hush money case in which he is accused of 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 08:15

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Will Trump’s hush money trial be on TV?

[Spoiler alert: No. You have to follow this blog. You’re welcome.]

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 07:15

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How much time could Trump spend in jail if convicted?

Should Mr Trump ultimately be found guilty, he could theoretically face more than a decade in prison, according to CNN chief legal analyst Laura Coates, who points out that the felony counts against Mr Trump are classified as Class E crimes in New York, which are the lowest level felonies in the state.

But there’s more to it than that…

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 06:15

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Trump’s calender of chaos heats up

In a typical presidential election year, candidates will spend the 11 months leading up to election day shaking hands and kissing babies at rallies as the primaries unfold.

Instead, the ex-president will be forced to juggle his campaign for the White House while also defending himself in federal and state courts in four different cases that have hearings and trial dates scattered throughout 2024.

Ariana Baio breaks down what the former president is facing:

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 05:15

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Judge Merchan to rule on what prosecutors can question Trump about if he testifies

Attorneys for Donald Trump told a judge overseeing the former president’s hush money trial on Friday that Manhattan prosecutors are merely trying to “distract” jurors and “pile things on” by introducing evidence from his string of other criminal and civil cases.

New York Justice Juan Merchan presided over a hearing to outline what prosecutors intend to ask Mr Trump if he chooses to testify at his criminal trial, including a defamation case and allegations of sexual abuse, a massive civil fraud judgment finding him liable for tens of millions of dollars, felony convictions targeting his business, and the dissolution of a namesake foundation used to boost his presidential campaign.

But the judge said that prosecutors’ request falls within the grounds of the so-called Sandoval hearing, during which a defendant with a history of misconduct or criminal acts who also plans to testify in his defence knows what they could be walking into.

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 04:15


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