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US: Donald Trump Makes Appearance On First Day Of Trial In Hush Money Case

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New York: Former US President Donald Trump made his first appearance in a New York courtroom on Monday for the start of his trial over charges of falsifying his business record, CNN reported.

Notably, Trump became the first US President, past or present, to stand trial on criminal charges. The trial is also the first of four separate criminal trials Trump faces. It comes amid his 2024 bid for the presidency. Trump appeared at the Manhattan court, where the prosecution and defence teams began jury selection, an undertaking that could last weeks, particularly given the political sensitivities involved.

After arriving at the court, Donald Trump called the trial an “assault on America” and “political persecution,” Al Jazeera reported. The criminal trial of Donald J. Trump, the nation’s 45th president and the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, started with potential jurors assembling in a drab courtroom in New York City while Trump looked on.

Trump was charged in Manhattan, a deeply Democratic county and his former home, with falsifying nearly three dozen business records in an attempt to cover up a payment to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, who has said she had a brief sexual encounter with him in 2006. The jury of 12, along with six alternates, will be chosen from hundreds of New Yorkers after an exhaustive selection process that could stretch beyond the first week of the trial, CNN reported.

Court officials expect about 500 new jurors to appear each day for the selection process. About 100 prospective jurors at a time will be brought into Judge Juan Merchan’s courtroom to be vetted. Trump has regularly dismissed the charges against him as a political “witch-hunt”. He has also used the legal proceedings against him to energise his base and collect donations amid his myriad legal woes.

Early in the day, for instance, Trump’s campaign released a “fact sheet” on the trial, seeking to frame it as a means of tilting the upcoming presidential election in November. “Fact 1: President Trump did nothing wrong. These charges are entirely fabricated to interfere in the election and distract from the failed presidency of Crooked Joe Biden,” the email said, Al Jazeera reported.

Trump reprised that theme outside the court, taking direct aim at US President Joe Biden. “It’s a country that’s failing, it’s a country that’s run by an incompetent man and is very much involved in this case,” Trump said. “This is an attack on a political opponent. That is all it is, so I’m very honoured to be here.”

He also accused the judge and prosecutors leading the case, including Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, of being partisan, Al Jazeera reported. “It’s a scam. It’s a political witch hunt. It continues, and it continues forever. And we’re not going to be given a fair trial,” he told reporters at the end of the day.

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