Trump calls hush money trial ‘assault on America’ as case officially kicks off

Former President Trump arrived at a Manhattan court Monday as the hush money case officially kicks off, where he will face trial over 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. “Nothing like this has ever happened before,” Trump said at the courthouse Monday. “This is political persecution … it’s a case that should have never been brought.””This is an assault on America and that’s why I’m very proud to be here,” he added. TRUMP’S HUSH MONEY PAYMENT TRIAL GETS UNDERWAY AS JURY SELECTION BEGINSThe 45th president left Trump Tower early Monday morning, when he was seen waving to supporters before heading to Manhattan Criminal Court. NINE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE TRUMP TRIAL, ANSWEREDThe trial marks the first time a former president will stand trial over criminal charges. FIVE KEY QUESTIONS ON HOW START OF TRUMP’S FIRST CRIMINAL TRIAL WILL IMPACT PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNDubbed the “hush money” case, the trial will focus on payments made by Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to former pornographic actor Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. The $130,000 payment was to allegedly quiet her claims of an alleged extramarital affair she had with the then-real estate tycoon in 2006.Trump has denied the affair and pleaded not guilty to the 34 charges against him.THE TRUMP TRIALS: HERE’S WHERE EACH CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST THE FORMER PRESIDENT STANDSProsecutors allege that the Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen and fraudulently logged the payments as legal expenses. Falsifying business records is a misdemeanor, but prosecutors are working to prove that Trump falsified records with an intent to commit or conceal a second crime, which would be a felony. “During the election, TRUMP and others employed a ‘catch and kill’ scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleged last year. “TRUMP then went to great lengths to hide this conduct, causing dozens of false entries in business records to conceal criminal activity, including attempts to violate state and federal election laws.”‘I TELL THE TRUTH’: TRUMP SAYS HE’LL TESTIFY AT HUSH MONEY TRIAL AS JUDGE REJECTS LAST MINUTE PLEATrump has repeatedly slammed the trial as a “witch hunt,” and kicked off Monday by calling the presiding Judge Juan Merchan “crooked” while demanding his “VOICE back” after Merchan placed a gag order on Trump making public statements about potential witnesses. “I want my VOICE back. This Crooked Judge has GAGGED me. Unconstitutional! The other side can talk about me, but I am not allowed to talk about them! Rigged Trial!” Trump wrote on Truth Social. Trump, when he arrived at the courthouse Monday, continued that the trial “is really an attack on a political opponent.”The trial will begin with jury selection, when potential jurors will be presented with an overview of the case and asked whether they are able to serve in a fair and impartial manner. Those who show they cannot be impartial will be dismissed, while those who remain will be asked a series of 42 questions, which Merchan released in a letter last week, including questions such as: “Do you have any political, moral, intellectual, or religious beliefs or opinions which might prevent you from following the court’s instructions on the law or which might slant your approach to this case?”The case is anticipated to last at least six weeks. 
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