Opening statements set for Monday in Trump’s hush money case

(19 Apr 2024)

New York – 19 April 2024
1. SOUNDBITE (English) Donald Trump, (R) presidential candidate:
"And we just had another hearing. And the trial starts on Monday, which is long before a lot of people thought, the judge wants us to go as fast as possible. Yeah, that’s for his reasons, not for my reasons. And this is really a concerted witch hunt. Very simple. Everything you heard in that this is a witch hunt by numerous judges, Democrat judges. You take a look at it Engoron is a whack job.
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Donald Trump, (R) presidential candidate:
This is a giant witch hunt to try and hurt a campaign that’s beating the worst president in history. Biden is the worst president in the history of our country, beating him by a lot. And this is the only way they think they can win. But it’s not going to work. Thank you very much."
A full jury of 12 people and six alternates was seated Friday in Donald Trump’s hush money case, setting the stage for opening statements next week in the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president.

Hours later, an appeals court judge rejected a last-minute bid by the Republican to halt the trial over his claims that jury selection was unfairly rushed.

The jury, which includes a software engineer, investment banker, English teacher and multiple lawyers, took final shape after lawyers spent days quizzing dozens of potential jurors on whether they can impartially judge the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

The judge said lawyers will present opening statements Monday morning before prosecutors begin laying out their case alleging a scheme to cover up negative stories Trump feared would hurt his 2016 presidential campaign.

The trial unfolding in Manhattan thrusts Trump’s legal problems into the heart of his hotly contested race against President Joe Biden, with Trump’s opponent likely to seize on unflattering and salacious testimony to make the case he’s unfit to return as commander in chief.

Trump, meanwhile, is using the prosecution as a political rallying cry, casting himself as a victim while juggling his dual role as criminal defendant and presidential candidate.

Just after the jury was seated, emergency crews responded to a park outside the courthouse, where a man had set himself on fire. The man took out pamphlets espousing conspiracy theories and spread them around the park before dousing himself in a flammable substance and setting himself aflame, officials said. He was in critical condition Friday afternoon.

Trump has spent the week sitting quietly in the courtroom as lawyers pressed potential jurors on their views about him in a search for any bias that would preclude them from hearing the case. During breaks in the proceedings, he has railed against the case on social media or to TV cameras in the hallway, calling it a politically motivated “witch hunt.”


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