Trump's Landmark Criminal Trial Opens In New York

Trump's landmark criminal trial opens in New York

New York, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 16th Apr, 2024) Donald Trump's New York criminal trial opened Monday in a historic first for a US ex-president and a seismic twist to an already explosive 2024 election where the Republican is seeking to defy multiple scandals and return to power.

Trump has repeatedly described the hush money case as a sham.

But reality set in for the 77-year-old, hard-right Republican as Judge Juan Merchan issued the routine warning for criminal defendants that he will have to attend proceedings in the gritty Manhattan courthouse daily -- or face arrest.

Merchan also warned Trump against repeating his frequent past attempts to disrupt court hearings with incendiary social media posts.

The judge scheduled a hearing next week for the prosecution to argue that Trump should already be held in contempt for violating a partial gag order restricting him from attacking individuals connected to the case.

The Republican presidential candidate is accused of falsifying business records in a scheme to cover up an alleged extramarital sexual encounter with adult film actress Stormy Daniels to shield his first election campaign, in 2016, from last-minute upheaval.

He faces three other criminal cases centered on his hoarding of top-secret documents after leaving office and his alleged unprecedented attempt to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden.

Throughout the morning, lawyers for both sides in the case wrangled with Merchan over admissible evidence.

Trump, shoulders hunched, stared sternly straight ahead or looked down at the computer alongside his legal team. According to The New York Times reporter sitting close to Trump, he at times appeared to fall asleep, head drooping.

The judge ruled against allowing prosecutors to play the jury the infamous Access Hollywood recording that rocked Trump's 2016 campaign in which he can be heard boasting that famous men can "grab" women by their genitals because "they let you do it."

However, the contents of the recording -- which prosecutors see as key in motivating Trump to pay to bury news reports about Stormy Daniel -- can be introduced as evidence.

Prosecutors also demanded that Trump be fined for violating a gag order imposed earlier by Merchan to try and get the ex-president to stop attacking potential witnesses and others in the courtroom on social media. Merchan indicated he would rule on this later.

Selection of jurors, who will benefit from anonymity to protect them from widespread public interest in the case, was expected to begin next.

Given the notoriety of the case it could take as much as two weeks for defense lawyers and prosecutors to agree on the panel of 12 jurors.