‘Good morning Mr. Trump’: Takeaways from historic trial

‘Good morning Mr. Trump’: Takeaways from historic trial

/ 05:35 AM April 17, 2024

‘Good morning Mr. Trump’: Takeaways from historic trial

‘PEOPLE  VS TRUMP’ Presumptive Republican presidential candidate, former US President Donald Trump, attends trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 15 in New York City. REUTERS

NEW YORK — Donald Trump entered the history books on Monday, becoming the first former US president to stand trial on criminal charges.

Here are key takeaways from the opening day of “The People of the State of New York vs Donald J. Trump,” in which he faces charges of falsifying business records to conceal “hush money” payments to a porn star at the height of the 2016 presidential election:


‘Courtroom’ campaign

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate for November, made it clear from the outset of the trial that he plans to exact maximum political leverage from the case.


Right before the trial started, his campaign released a slick video portraying Trump as a president in waiting—and a heroic figure defending his supporters from forces trying to take away their freedoms.

Arriving at the Manhattan courthouse, Trump told reporters he was the victim of a “political persecution.”

“It’s a case that should have never been brought,” he said. “It’s an assault on America.

“This is really an attack on a political opponent.”

Move it along

Judge Juan Merchan intends to move the trial along and will not stand for delaying tactics.

He moved rapidly through a series of pretrial motions, including a request by the defense that he should recuse himself, and reminded attorneys there were “500 jurors waiting” to begin the selection process.


Merchan also ruled that any prospective jurors who declare they are unable to serve will be dismissed without further questioning.

At one point in the afternoon the judge admonished the defense team for returning late from a break.

“Counsel, it’s important that we keep the breaks to the allotted time, so we can keep moving,” Merchan said.

‘Fair and impartial’

The challenge of seating a jury in New York for the historic case became apparent with the first batch of jurors called into the courtroom for selection.

At least 50 of the first 96 potential jurors summoned were dismissed after raising their hand when asked if they could not be “fair and impartial.”

Manhattan is heavily pro-Democratic and New York-born Trump is one of the city’s most famous—and notorious—sons.

His attitudes to women

Prosecutors moved to introduce evidence of Trump’s previous behavior and attitudes regarding women.

They asked for permission to play the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump talks about grabbing women by the genitals.

The judge ruled that the recording cannot be played but prosecutors could introduce the exact words Trump used.

The judge also denied a request by prosecutors to bring in other allegations against Trump of sexual assault, calling them “complete hearsay.”

Just another defendant

The judge made it clear that Trump will be treated like any other defendant in his courtroom.

“Good morning Mr. Trump,” Merchan said after taking the bench, declining to refer to him as “President Trump,” as is common with former presidents.

Trump was read his rights by the judge and received the standard admonition that he could be held in contempt and jailed if he is disruptive.

Trump was also told he must attend every day of the trial or face arrest.

Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, said the former president “wants to be present at everything.”

Tight-lipped White House

The White House said it wanted to be “super mindful” about not commenting on the case involving Democratic President Joe Biden’s likely November opponent.

“I’m sure he’ll get an update at some point today but his focus right now are the meetings that he has and what he continues to do every day,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said of Biden.

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Asked by a reporter during a meeting with visiting Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala in the Oval Office if he would be watching any of the Trump trial, Biden just shook his head. —AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TAGS: criminal charges, New York, Trump

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