Trump Says 'These Are All Biden Trials' as He Arrives at New York Courthouse for Hush-Money Criminal Trial

Former US President Trump faces historic criminal trial over hush money payments, with prosecutors alleging election fraud and Trump's defense team rejecting the charges as baseless.

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Nitish Verma
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Donald Trump Faces Historic Hush-Money Criminal Trial in New York

Donald Trump Faces Historic Hush-Money Criminal Trial in New York

Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrived at a New York courthouse on Monday for the opening arguments in his historic hush-money criminal trial. Trump called the proceedings the "Biden trials" and lamented their impact on his campaigning in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and other places ahead of the November 2024 presidential election against Joe Biden.

Prosecutors allege that Trump orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election by falsifying business records to conceal a $130,000 hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. The payment was allegedly made to silence Daniels about an affair she claims to have had with Trump before the 2016 election. Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

In their opening statement, prosecutors accused Trump of inviting his friend David Pecker, the CEO of American Media Inc., to a meeting at Trump Tower, where they, along with Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen, agreed to a "catch and kill" scheme to silence Daniels and other individuals with damaging information about Trump's behavior. The prosecution argues that Trump's actions amounted to election fraud, and that the conspiracy was aimed at helping Trump get elected.

Trump's defense team rejected the state's allegations, arguing that the former president did not commit any crimes. They characterized the case as baseless and attacked the integrity of the government's star witness, Michael Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the hush money payments.

Why this matters: The trial marks the first time in U.S. history that a former president has faced criminal charges before a jury. The outcome could have significant implications for Trump's 2024 presidential campaign and the future of American politics.

The trial is expected to last about six weeks and will feature testimony from a colorful cast of characters, including Stormy Daniels and David Pecker. Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, was called as the first witness and testified about the tabloid's "catch and kill" practices of paying for exclusive rights to stories and then burying them.

Trump has sought to turn his criminal defendant status into an asset for his 2024 presidential campaign, fundraising off his legal jeopardy and railing against the justice system. However, the trial will require him to spend his days in a courtroom rather than on the campaign trail. "I'm here instead of being able to be in Pennsylvania and Georgia and lots of other places campaigning," Trump complained.

"This is a case of bookkeeping," Trump said of the charges against him. "The trials are a disgrace to the American judicial system," his defense team added, arguing that Trump was unaware of the specifics of the hush money payments and did not commit any crimes.

Key Takeaways

  • Trump faces criminal trial over $130K hush money payment to Stormy Daniels before 2016 election.
  • Prosecutors allege Trump orchestrated a criminal scheme to influence the 2016 election.
  • Trump's defense claims case is baseless and attacks credibility of key witness Michael Cohen.
  • Trial is first time a former US president faces criminal charges before a jury.
  • Outcome could impact Trump's 2024 presidential campaign and future of American politics.