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Trump trial live updates: Opening statements begin with David Pecker lined up as first witness

Trump delivers rant before entering court for hush money trial

After a tense week of jury selection, Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial is now truly underway with opening statements from the prosecution and defence.

The jury will then hear evidence against the former president and his counter-argument before deciding his fate. The first witness will be tabloid mogul and National Enquirer owner David Pecker.

New York Justice Juan Merchan ruled that Manhattan prosecutors can question Mr Trump about a blockbuster fraud ruling, gag order violations and defamation verdicts if he chooses to testify.

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.

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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“The core of the conspiracy was David Pecker’s agreement to act as eyes and ears of the campaign,” Colangelo says.

He outlines the 2015 Trump Tower catch-and-kill scheme at the heart of the case, in which a publisher “buys a story, demands a source sign a non-disclosure agreement, then declines to publish” – in this case, to support Trump.

“It’s a way of buying damaging information, not to publish it, but to hide it, make it go away,” he says.

Alex Woodward22 April 2024 15:41

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Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, and AMI’s David Pecker “conspired to influence the 2016 presidential election” by conceiving of the catch-and-kill scheme, Colangelo says.

Alex Woodward22 April 2024 15:37

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Opening statements get underway

Opening statements are now underway with prosecution attorney Assistant District Attorney Matthew Colangelo beginning.

“This case is about a criminal conspiracy – and a cover-up. The defendant Donald Trump orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election. Then he covered up that criminal conspiracy by lying in his business records, over and over and over again.”

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 15:32

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No sign of Trump family in court

There do not appear to be any of the Trump family in court today to support Donald as the historic trial begins.

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 15:29

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Lawyers smile as judge notes difference between court and fictitious TV trials

While instructing the jury, Judge Merchan says lawyers are not permitted to make any comments on the testimony of witnesses.

“That happens on TV and in the movies, that does not happen in real trials,” he says.

Both prosecutors and Mr Trump’s attorneys smiled at the comment.

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 15:24

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Prosecutors can confront Trump about Carroll sexual abuse verdict and fraud ruling if he testifies

Alex Woodward reports from the courtroom:

Manhattan prosecutors can question Donald Trump about a blockbuster fraud ruling, gag order violations and defamation verdicts if he chooses to testify in his hush money trial.

Judge Merchan also will allow prosecutors to bring up his repeat violations of a gag order in a civil trial targeting allegations of fraud in his real estate empire.

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 15:16

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Judge gives jury instructions

Judge Juan Merchan is giving the jury their instructions, including the basic principles of law and evidence, and a reminder that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty.

The prosecution bears the burden of proof and must show it beyond a reasonable doubt — if they satisfy that, you must find the defendant guilty, Merchan says.

That decision must not be based on speculation, bias, or prejudice.

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 15:12

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Judge rules prosecutors can introduce some past cases if Trump testifies

(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Alex Woodward reports from the courtroom:

Judge Juan Merchan has ruled that prosecutors may introduce the following past cases and judgments on cross-examination if Donald Trump testifies:

  1. Judge Arthur Engoron’s judgment in the civil fraud trial
  2. The fraud trial’s gag order violation
  3. The fraud trial’s second gag order violation
  4. The E Jean Carroll defamation verdicts

The jury is now entering the courtroom.

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 14:59

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Trump an his surrogates claim he would be out campaigning — is that true?

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 14:56

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Watch: Trump rages about bond in civil fraud case on way into first criminal trial

Donald Trump appeared fixated on the bond he posted for his civil fraud trial ruling as he was on the way into the courtroom for his first criminal trial.

Here’s what the former president had to say:

Mr Trump seemed to remember that he got into trouble a few times during that trial and backed off from naming the “crazed judge” — we all know he is referring to Judge Arthur Engoron.

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 14:52


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