The hidden side of politics

Trump arrives in New York court for hush money trial during campaign

Reported by Washington Times:

NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump, stern-faced with his chin up, whisked into a Manhattan courtroom on Monday for a historic trial on charges he criminally concealed hush money to a porn star to avoid bad press around the 2016 election.

Mr. Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, wore his signature navy suit and red necktie for the first day of jury selection, a process that will likely be lengthy and arduous given the profile of the defendant and politically charged environment.

“This is political persecution, persecution like never before,” Mr. Trump said in the courthouse hallway. “It’s an assault on America. And that’s why I’m very proud to be here. This is an assault on our country.”

Following lawyer Todd Blanche, Mr. Trump walked up the courtroom’s center aisle and past nine rows of wooden benches that will be filled with potential jurors. Expressionless with his fingers clasped, he squeezed between his lawyers and appeared to direct some of his lawyers to remove blue Fiji water containers from the table. He spoke with Mr. Blanche for a time and looked through papers while waiting for the judge.

Mr. Trump is the first former U.S. president to be tried in criminal court. The trial is expected to last at least six to eight weeks and will affect Mr. Trump‘s ability to campaign for president.

It will also affect how voters see Mr. Trump, for better or worse, heading into a likely rematch with President Biden. Polls suggest the candidates are in a tight race.

SEE ALSO: Trump lawyer says ex-president would be ‘compelling’ on the stand in his N.Y. hush money trial

There was a heavy media and police presence outside the courthouse in lower Manhattan, near Little Italy and Chinatown. Demonstrators gathered early Monday, including anti-Trump protesters with a large “Loser” sign that looked like the Trump campaign emblem. Another sign said, “Convict Trump already.”

The ex-president tried to delay proceedings by claiming that the trial couldn’t proceed in an election year and that Judge Juan Merchan is too cozy with Democratic interests and should recuse himself.

His pleas didn’t work, clearing the way for jury selection in one of the highest-profile trials in history.

Prosecutors allege that Mr. Trump paid $130,000 in hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels to cover up an alleged sexual encounter from nearly two decades ago, along with payments to a second woman who alleged an affair and a doorman who pushed an unproven story that Mr. Trump had a child out of wedlock.

They say Mr. Trump concealed the payments through reimbursements to his attorney-turned-accuser, Michael D. Cohen, recorded in official business ledgers on multiple dates in 2017.

Mr. Trump denies the claim of an affair with Ms. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and says the charges are part of a broad Democratic plot to thwart his presidential bid.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Mr. Trump with falsifying business records in the first degree, meaning he must tie the records to the commission of some other crime. Prosecutors have suggested the payments were a 2016 campaign expenditure that should have been disclosed, or related to tax offenses.

“Why didn’t they bring this totally discredited lawsuit 7 years ago??? Election Interference!” Mr. Trump posted on Truth Social before his motorcade headed to court.

During his presidency, Mr. Trump decamped from the Manhattan borough where he built his name and brand to the sunny climes of South Florida, where he holds court at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach with wealthy club members and lawmakers.

On Monday, he was back in the Big Apple, sitting at a defendant’s table while a judge started to vet jurors.

Jurors will not be asked about their party affiliation but will face questions about their media consumption, whether they follow fringe groups like Antifa or the Proud Boys and if they’ve ever worked for Mr. Trump‘s business.

Source:Washington Times