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Donald Trump enters the courtroom at the start of his first criminal trial – with his head held high

  • Donald Trump is in court for his first criminal trial.

  • He went to Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday morning, where jury selection will begin soon.

  • The hush money case marks the first-ever criminal trial against a former American president.

At 9:31 a.m., Donald Trump crossed the threshold.

With shoulders hunched but chin up, he entered a courtroom on the 15th floor of the dingy, hot and dimly lit New York County Criminal Court in downtown Manhattan.

It is the location of the first ever criminal trial of a former American president.

Trump walked into the courtroom behind Todd Blanche, his lead attorney in the case.

He paused for a split second, licked his lips, and then walked down the aisle of the courtroom to his seat at the front of the courtroom.

Moments after he sat down, photographers took a photo of him sitting at the defense table, where he was flanked by his lawyers.

Monday marks the start of jury selection, presided over by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, which is expected to last up to two weeks.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records. He said he lied on documents to conceal payments to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress.

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The purpose of these payments — according to prosecutors Daniels and others involved in the scheme — was to deceive the voting public into keeping her quiet about an affair she said she had with him prior to the 2016 presidential election.

In the hallway before walking into the courtroom, Trump criticized the case, telling reporters it was a “political persecution.”

“This is an attack on America,” he said. “Nothing like this has ever happened before, there has never been anything like this.”

“I’m very proud to be here,” he added later.

The hush money case is the first of Trump’s four criminal cases to go to trial before the 2024 election, with Trump the presumptive Republican nominee against President Joe Biden.

Merchan has previously denied a dozen different attempts by Trump’s lawyers to delay the case. In a decision Friday, Merchan rejected one of his requests to delay the case due to “pre-trial publicity,” calling it “untenable.”

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“Defendant appears to be taking the position that his situation and this case are unique and that the pretrial publicity will never diminish,” Merchan wrote. “However, this view does not correspond to reality.”

Trump has also fought Merchan’s silence order, which bars him from talking about jurors, witnesses, prosecutors and family members of Merchan and Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg.

On Truth Social, Trump again complained about the silence order Monday morning, calling the process “rigged.” He also posted a screenshot of a social media post that falsely claimed that Orthodox Jews could not serve on the jury. The trial overlaps with Passover, and Merchan previously said he would take the needs of jurors into account when determining the trial schedule.

“When I walk into that courtroom, I know I will have the love of 200 million Americans behind me, and I will FIGHT for the FREEDOM of 325 MILLION AMERICANS!” Trump posted on Truth Social.

Over the past year, Trump has been a suspect in three different civil trials.

Two were for cases brought by E. Jean Carroll, with one jury concluding that he sexually assaulted and defamed her, and another ruling that he must pay her more than $80 million in additional damages for persistent defamation.

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Jury selection was much faster in those cases, which were held in federal court. For Carroll’s second trial, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan selected the nine-member jury in less than three hours.

The other civil lawsuit involved a major lawsuit from the New York Attorney General’s office against the Trump Organization. In that case, a judge – in a non-jury trial – ordered him and his co-defendants to pay nearly half a billion dollars in fines.

Trump has been charged in three other criminal cases, none of which have set trial dates yet. Two were filed by Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and for hoarding government documents at Mar-a-Lago after his presidency.

The other was filed by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis for pressuring Georgia election officials to overturn Biden’s 2020 election victory in the state.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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