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First Criminal Trial Against Former U.S. President Trump Begins With Jury Selection

On April 15, 2024, Donald Trump’s first criminal trial started in New York state court. In this case, Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. The charges are based on allegations that Trump authorized hush money payments to Stormy Daniels – a former adult film star with whom he had an extramarital affair – on the eve of the 2016 Presidential Election. District Attorney Bragg alleges that Trump did this to keep information that could be harmful to his campaign from voters in advance of the 2016 election, which Trump narrowly won. Trump is alleged to have falsified business and campaign records to cover-up the payoff, and keep everything out of the public eye. 


First Criminal Trial Against Former U.S. President Trump Begins With Jury Selection
Photo: Jabin Botsford/Pool/Getty Images

The April 15th proceedings began with various pretrial motions by both the prosecutors and Trump’s defense team. Then jury selection began – the jury of everyday citizens will consist of 12 jurors and 6 alternates, who will serve in the event any of the12 appointed jurors needs to step down.  These everyday Americans will remain anonymous throughout the court proceedings in order to protect them and their families. 


New York Judge Will Hear Arguments About Trump’s Violation of Partial Gag Order


Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing Trump’s first criminal trial, separately set an April 23, 2024 hearing regarding claims that Trump has violated his partial gag order in the case. The order prohibits  the former president from speaking publicly about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and jurors involved in the case, as well as their families


 District Attorney Bragg is arguing that Trump’s recent statements, where he first spoke publicly against potential witnesses and then reshared a video of a far-right activist criticizing the Judge’s wife, violate the order. Before that, Trump had used social media to attack the Judge’s daughter, as well as the Judge himself.   


The order had to be expanded in April, 2024, after Trump issued various attacks on the Judge’s family. 

Merchan noted in the order that Trump had previously attacked judges, witnesses and others in other cases, saying “inflammatory extrajudicial statements undoubtedly risk impeding the orderly administration of this court.” The order does not forbid Trump from commenting about DA Bragg or Judge Merchan.

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