Prosecution Lays Out 'Criminal Conspiracy' In Historic Trump Trial

(MENAFN- Jordan Times) NEW YORK - Donald Trump engaged in a multilayered conspiracy of fraud, lies and cover-ups, prosecutors said as opening arguments began on Monday in the first ever criminal trial of a former US president.

Assistant District Attorney Matthew Colangelo said Trump falsified business records to pay $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels to buy her“silence” over a 2006 sexual encounter that could have impacted his 2016 presidential bid.

“This case is about a criminal conspiracy and a cover-up,” Colangelo told the jury of New Yorkers in a Manhattan courtroom.“It was election fraud, pure and simple.”

Trump, dressed in a dark suit and blue tie, sat at the defence table, staring straight ahead as the prosecutor delivered his remarks.

Presenting his opening statement to the 12 jurors and six alternates, Todd Blanche, one of Trump's attorneys, said“President Trump did not commit any crimes.”

“I have a spoiler alert: There's nothing wrong with trying to influence an election,” Blanche said.“It's called democracy.”

“The Manhattan DA should never have brought this case,” he said.“President Trump is presumed innocent. He's cloaked in innocence.”

Before the court session began, Trump also insisted he had done nothing wrong and condemned the case as“election interference” designed to derail his 2024 White House bid.

“It's a very, very sad day in America,” the 77-year-old Republican presidential candidate told reporters.

“I'm here instead of being able to be in Pennsylvania, in Georgia, and lots of other places campaigning,” he said.“This is a witch hunt.”

Trump is the first former president to face criminal charges and the case poses substantial risks to him less than seven months before his election rematch with President Joe Biden.

Prosecution witnesses are expected to include Daniels and Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen, who arranged the“hush money” payment to the adult film actress.

The identities of the jurors are being kept secret for their own protection

Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records to repay Cohen for the“hush money” payment made to Daniels.

The alleged crime is less significant than the indictments stemming from Trump's attack on the 2020 election - which the Republican lost to Democrat Biden - and his hoarding of secret documents.

Trump could face jail time in the current case, although a fine or probation is more likely, analysts say.

The trial in a dingy courtroom will keep Trump off the campaign trail for four days a week over a possibly six-to-eight-week period, while Biden hammers him from the White House and around the country.

But Trump has tried to used the heavy media attention to fire up his support base by giving regular statements outside the courtroom.

Trump has railed against the case, particularly what he calls the“very unfair” partial gag order imposed by Judge Juan Merchan to prevent him from attacking witnesses, prosecutors and relatives of court staff.

Security was tight on Monday after a man set himself on fire last week outside the courthouse in an unrelated but gruesome incident.

A hearing will be held on Tuesday at which Merchan will decide if Trump is already in contempt of court due to outbursts during jury selection.

The Republican's three other criminal cases have been repeatedly delayed due to his successful strategy of challenging every step.

However, Merchan has run the New York fraud trial on a tight schedule.

Potential jurors were grilled last week by prosecutors and defence attorneys about their media habits, political donations and education.

Many potential panelists were excused after saying they could not be impartial, before lawyers and the judge whittled down to 12 jurors with six alternates.


Jordan Times

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