Opening statements underway in Donald Trump’s hush money criminal trial

(22 Apr 2024)

New York – 16 April 2024
1. Former US President Donald Trump in hallway outside of court

New York – 17 April 2024
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press:
Opening statements are getting underway and Donald Trump’s hush money criminal trial. It’s the first of four criminal cases against the former president to go before a jury. Prosecutors are arguing that Donald Trump was involved in a scheme to hide negative stories about him in the build up to the 2016 election. This case involves charges that he falsified business records, essentially covering up the alleged cover up. Prosecutors say that Donald Trump labeled payments to his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, as legal fees when in reality, prosecutors argue they were reimbursements for hush money paid by Cohen on Trump’s behalf. Trump’s lawyers argue that this case shouldn’t be happening at all. That the payments to Cohen were not part of any cover up or any scheme, and that this case, echoing the words of their client, is a witchhunt and amounts, in a way, to election interference with Trump’s chances as the presumptive Republican nominee in this year’s election. Now, prosecutors have latched onto that election interference moniker. Also, they claim that the alleged hush money scheme was, in effect, election interference. They say that by trying to hide negative stories about Trump, Trump and his allies were, in effect preventing the electorate from having all of the information about him before the votes were cast. "

New York – 15 April 2024
3. Trump in hallway outside of court

New York – 17 April 2024
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press:
"Trump’s lawyers argue that Trump was paying legitimate legal fees to Michael Cohen, who worked for about a decade for Trump, and that Cohen, who had been a longtime ally of Trump, is a liar and cannot be trusted. Cohen is now a key prosecution witness in this case, and once opening statements wrap up, we will be on to witnesses, including Cohen, including porn actor Stormy Daniels, and possibly including people within Trump’s campaign and inner circle."
For the first time in history, prosecutors are presenting a criminal case against a former American president to a jury as they accuse Donald Trump of a hush money scheme aimed at preventing damaging stories about his personal life from being public.

A New York jury will hear opening statements Monday from prosecutors and defense lawyers in the first of four criminal cases against the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to reach trial.

The arguments are expected to give the 12-person jury and the voting public the clearest view to date of the allegations at the heart of the case and insight into Trump’s expected defenses.

Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and denies wrongdoing.


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