12 Apr 2024, 22:38

Five things to know about Donald Trump's first criminal trial

NEW YORK, April  12, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Donald Trump goes on trial Monday for
allegedly covering up hush money payments to hide affairs ahead of the 2016
presidential election which propelled him into the White House.

He will become the first former US president to go on criminal trial when
jury selection begins next week.

Here are the key questions ahead of the landmark trial:

- What is Trump accused of? -

As Trump closed in on victory in the 2016 presidential election, adult film
star Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about an alleged 2006
sexual tryst with Trump.

The payments, made by Trump's lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, were
revealed by The Wall Street Journal in January 2018.

Prosecutors have seized on the concealment of the payments as "legal fees"
in the Trump Organization's accounts when Cohen was reimbursed as the heart of
their case.

Prosecutors say Trump "concealed the reason for these payments... which
clearly were paid in order to influence voters," former prosecutor Bennett
Gershman, now a lecturer at Pace University, told AFP.

A New York grand jury indicted Trump in March 2023 over the payments made
to Daniels -- whose real name is Stephanie Clifford -- with the ex-president
charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records. The case is being heard
in a state-level court.

- What is the case for the defense? -

When the scandal broke, then-president Trump denied any relationship with
Daniels, insisting he knew nothing about the payment, eventually claiming it
was to thwart attempted extortion.

He pleaded not guilty and attacked the trial as a political witch hunt.
Trump's lawyers will question the reliability of ally-turned-enemy Cohen's
recall, and insist the case has no merit.

Prosecutors will show that the Trump camp has form covering up embarrassing
affairs with money, based on two other similar payments.

- Who will decide the case? -

Trump's fate will be decided by twelve jurors, backed by six alternates,
selected from a randomly chosen pool of Manhattan residents.

Each will be questioned about their view of Trump and their ability to
remain impartial, with the defense, prosecution and the judge all able to bring
challenges. The process could last up to two weeks.

Jurors, who must return a unanimous verdict, will remain anonymous for
their protection.

- Could Trump go to prison? -

Trump could theoretically be jailed if he is found guilty, with a prison
sentence of up to four years for each of the 34 felony counts.

However, the judge has the discretion to impose just a fine, or alternative
sentences including probation, acknowledging 77-year-old Trump's age and clean
criminal history.

Lack of remorse could go against him, but legal challenges to any sentence
would likely delay sentencing. Conviction would not stop Trump's presidential

- How long will the case last? -

The court says around six to eight weeks, with hearings scheduled every
weekday except Wednesday meaning that, if guilty, sentencing could happen
before the November polls.

A variety of legal challenges and maneuvers could delay that timeline, with
Trump's lawyers stepping up their appeals and challenges in recent weeks,
already securing a delay of the trial from March 25 to April 15.

Unlike other major trials like that of O.J. Simpson, who died on Thursday,
Trump's will not be televised, according to New York State law.


  • Latest News
  • Most View