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The Latest | Trump set to return to court for opening statements in his historic hush money trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Opening statements in Donald Trump’s historic hush money trial are set to begin Monday morning, setting the stage for weeks of unsavory and salacious testimony about the former president’s personal life and placing his legal troubles at the center of his closely contested campaign against President Joe Biden.

A panel of New Yorkers — 12 jurors and six alternates — was sworn in last Friday after four days of jury selection and will hear what is the first-ever criminal trial against a former U.S. commander-in-chief.

Trump is accused of falsifying internal business records as part of an alleged scheme to bury stories that he thought might hurt his presidential campaign in 2016.

At the heart of the allegations is a $130,000 payment made to porn actor Stormy Daniels by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer, to prevent her claims of a sexual encounter with Trump from surfacing in the final days of the race.

Prosecutors say Trump obscured the true nature of such payments in internal business documents. Trump has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels, and his lawyers argue that the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal expenses. He has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

The hush money case is the first of Trump’s four indictments to reach trial.

Currently:

— Key players: Who’s who at Donald Trump’s hush money criminal trial

— The hush money case is just one of Trump’s legal cases. See the others here

— Trump cancels rally because of weather, proving the difficulty of balancing a trial and campaign

— Trump was forced to listen silently as potential jurors offered their unvarnished assessments of him

— Live video of man who set himself on fire outside court proves challenging for news organizations

Here’s the latest:

JAIL TIME IS JUST ONE OF THE STAKES TRUMP FACES

Donald Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and could face four years in prison if convicted, though it’s not clear if the judge would seek to put him behind bars. A conviction would not preclude Trump from becoming president again, but because it is a state case, he would not be able to attempt to pardon himself if found guilty. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Unfolding as Trump vies to reclaim the White House, the trial will require him to spend his days in a courtroom rather than the campaign trail. He will have to listen as witnesses recount salacious and potentially unflattering details about his private life.

Trump has nonetheless sought to turn his criminal defendant status into an asset for his campaign, fundraising off his legal jeopardy and repeatedly railing against a justice system that he has for years claimed is weaponized against him.

PROSECUTORS TO MAKE HISTORY WITH OPENING STATEMENTS

For the first time, prosecutors will present a criminal case against a former American president to a jury Monday as they accuse Donald Trump of a hush money scheme aimed at preventing damaging stories about his personal life from becoming public.

The statements are expected to give jurors and the voting public the clearest view yet of the allegations at the heart of the case, as well as insight into Trump’s expected defense.

Hearing the case is a jury that includes, among others, multiple lawyers, a sales professional, an investment banker and an English teacher.

The case will test jurors’ ability to set aside any bias but also Trump’s ability to abide by the court’s restrictions, such as a gag order that bars him from attacking witnesses. Prosecutors are seeking fines against him for alleged violations of that order.

The Associated Press


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