Donald Trump is now the first U.S. President to face a criminal trial

Donald Trump's first of four criminal trials has begun in New York, making him the first U.S. President to front a criminal case.
Donald Trump has become the first U.S. President to front a criminal trial.

Donald Trump has become the first U.S. President to front a criminal trial.

It relates to the alleged cover-up of payments used to silence adult film star Stormy Daniels in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

The trial kicked off overnight, marking the first of Trump’s four criminal cases to get underway.

First trial

The trial revolves around events alleged to have occurred in the lead-up to the 2016 U.S. election.

Trump is accused of asking his lawyers to cover up a payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in October 2016, weeks out from the election.

In the U.S. state of New York, ‘hush money’ payments are not always illegal. Trump is instead accused of forging business records to cover up the payment.

In 2022, Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records.

His lawyers unsuccessfully attempted to have the trial dismissed or delayed.

Since the trial began, Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges. They carry a maximum sentence of four years in jail.

What to expect

The trial began overnight with both prosecutors and Trump’s lawyers starting the process of selecting the jury.

Potential jurors, who are randomly selected, must be residents of Manhattan, one of New York City’s five regions. They’ll be vetted based on their perceived bias or conflicts of interest.

Trump appeared in court and spoke to reporters on the way in, describing the trial as an “assault on America”.

The trial could last up to eight weeks.

Trump’s other criminal trials

Trump is facing three other separate criminal cases, two of which are based efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Trial 1: In a federal lawsuit, Trump is accused of trying to “obstruct official proceedings”, among other charges.

This refers to Trump’s bid to stop Biden being confirmed as President on 6 January 2021, when his supporters stormed the Capitol building. Seven people died as a result of the riots.

Trial 2: In the U.S. state of Georgia, prosecutors alleged Trump and 18 others were involved in a coordinated effort to overturn the result of the 2020 election. Since the charges were laid in August 2023, some of Trump’s supporters have pleaded guilty.

Trial 3: Trump is also accused of taking secret documents from the White House after he lost the presidency, and storing them in boxes at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida.

Prosecutors also allege Trump tried to obstruct the investigation by deleting security camera footage and concealing information from investigators.

2024 election

Trump is now expected to become the official Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election.

His popularity has been relatively stable, despite Trump being the first U.S. President to face a criminal trial ever.

Under the U.S. Constitution, Trump can still run for president if he is convicted of, or jailed for, any of these crimes.

Earlier this year, some states ruled Trump couldn’t appear on their election ballots over his role in the 6 January Capitol insurrection. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned their rulings.

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