Jury selection begins in New York for hush money case

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Former President Donald Trump attends the first day of his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, April 15, 2024.

Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

Donald Trump arrived at a New York court Monday to start jury selection for his hush money trial — the first time a former U.S. president has ever faced a criminal trial.

“Nothing like this has ever happened before,” Trump told reporters before going into the courtroom.

“This is political persecution,” he said. “It’s an assault on America and that’s why I’m very proud to be here.””

Trump’s lawyers last week repeatedly sought to delay Monday’s start date with last-ditch efforts in an appeals court, but those efforts all failed.

In all, defense attorneys tried about a dozen times to dismiss or delay the trial, but only succeeded in pushing it back by a few weeks.

Trump, who is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is charged in Manhattan Supreme Court with nearly three dozen counts of falsifying business records. He will be required to be in the courtroom every day for the trial, which is expected to last about six weeks or more.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has accused Trump of filing business records that hid the true purpose of a $130,000 payment his then-lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election.

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Cohen, who is expected to testify against Trump, said he paid Daniels in exchange for her silence about an alleged sexual tryst with the then-GOP nominee years earlier. Trump has denied having sex with Daniels.

Michael Cohen, former attorney for former U.S. President Donald Trump, leaves after attending the Trump Organization civil fraud trial in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, Oct. 24, 2023.

Jeenah Moon | Reuters

It could take a week or more to finish selecting 12 jurors for the case before testimony begins. Trump said several days ago that he would be willing to testify.

Trump has used social media to blast the criminal case, and the people involved in it, and did so again early Monday morning.

“The Radical Left Democrats are already cheating on the 2024 Presidential Election by bringing, or helping to bring, all of these bogus lawsuits against me, thereby forcing me to sit in courthouses, and spend money that could be used for campaigning, instead of being out in the field knocking Crooked Joe Biden, the WORST President in the History of the United States,” Trump wrote in his Truth Social post. “Election Interference!”

The trial could significantly hurt Trump’s ability to campaign in person for the White House. Trump is set to face President Joe Biden in November in a rematch of their 2020 contest.

Trump is also charged in three other criminal cases.

Two of them — one in federal court in Washington, D.C., the other in Georgia state court — are related to his attempt to reverse his 2020 loss to Biden, which included unsuccessfully pressuring state election officials and legislators to effectively nullify Biden’s victory in several swing states.

The other criminal case, in federal court in Florida, is for charges related to his retention of classified government records after he left the White House, and his alleged efforts to hide the records from government officials when they sought their return.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in all of his criminal cases.

Although Bragg’s prosecution of Trump was long considered the least serious of the cases, the New York trial may ultimately prove to be the most consequential for Trump.

As a result of a sustained effort by Trump’s team to either dismiss his indictments or delay his trials, the hush money case could be the only one that goes to trial in the middle of the 2024 presidential campaign.

This is developing news. Check back for updates.

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