Trump’s hush money trial: Court adjourns; no jurors selected

Jury selection began Monday in the first criminal trial of former President Donald Trump, who faces charges related to payments made to keep quiet allegations that he had an extramarital affair before he won the race for the White House in 2016.

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Jury selection began at a courthouse in New York. The trial, which is the first of its kind against a former president, is expected to last six to eight weeks.

Trump has denied all wrongdoing, saying that the case is part of a witch hunt aimed at hurting him politically during the 2024 presidential race. He is the presumptive Republican nominee for president and expected to face President Joe Biden in November.

Trump says he will not be able to attend son’s graduation

Update 4:51 p.m. EDT April 15: In brief remarks after Monday’s adjournment, former President Donald Trump said he would be unable to attend the high school graduation of his son, Barron Trump, because of his trial in the Manhattan court, CNN reported.

Judge Juan Merchan said he will not yet rule on Trump’s request to skip trial on May 17 to attend his son’s ceremony.

“It really depends on if we are on time and where we are in the trial,” Merchan said, according to CNN.

— Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Court adjourns; jury selection resumes Tuesday

Update 4:42 p.m. EDT April 15: Jury selection is over for the day, Judge Juan Merchan said. The judge asked prospective jurors to return Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. EDT, The New York Times reported.

Merchan adjourned court after nine potential jurors had gone through the questionnaire, CNN reported.

— Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Judge tells potential jurors: ‘You alone are responsible for deciding’ if Trump is guilty or not

Update 2:55 p.m. EDT April 15: Judge Juan Merchan began jury selection on Monday afternoon by explaining the allegations against Trump and introducing him as the defendant in the case, The Associated Press reported.

“It is not my responsibility to judge the facts here,” he told the first batch of 96 potential jurors, according to CNN. “I do not decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. You alone are the judges of the facts and you alone are responsible for deciding whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.”

Prospective jurors craned their necks to get a look at Trump after filing into the courtroom on Monday, Reuters reported. One woman giggled and put her hand over her mouth, raising her eyebrows at the person seated next to her, according to the news agency.

It was not immediately clear how long jury selection might take.

Judge swears in first batch of potential jurors

Update 2:45 p.m. EDT April 15: New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan swore in the first group of potential jurors to hear evidence in the case against Trump on Monday afternoon, CNN reported.

It marked the start of the first criminal trial against a former U.S. president.

Twelve jurors and six alternates will be chosen from a pool of about 500, according to The Associated Press. The judge earlier wrote that the key in choosing a juror is “whether the prospective juror can assure us that they will set aside any personal feelings or biases and render a decision that is based on the evidence and the law,” according to the news agency.

Potential jurors enter courtroom

Update 2:35 p.m. EDT April 15: The first group of nearly 100 potential jurors for Trump’s case have entered the courtroom to begin jury selection, CNN and The New York Times reported.

Earlier, New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan said that about 500 potential jurors were awaiting questioning. He said on Monday afternoon that about 200 were in the courthouse, according to CNN.

First group of potential jurors to enter courtroom soon

Update 1:50 p.m. EDT April 15: New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan said the first group of potential jurors will soon enter the courtroom as jury selection is expected to get underway, The New York Times reported.

The first group to be questioned on Monday will consist of 96 people, according to the newspaper. Earlier, Merchan said that about 500 potential jurors were awaiting selection.

The judge said he would consider a request from prosecutors to find Trump for allegedly violating a gag order in the case on April 24, Reuters reported.

Court resumes after lunch

Update 1:45 p.m. EDT April 15: Court proceedings have resumed after a lunch break on Monday afternoon, CNN reported.

Trump returns to courtroom after lunch

Update 1:35 p.m. EDT April 15: Court proceedings are expected to resume soon in New York, where Trump is facing trial on 34 counts of first-degree falsifying business records.

He gave a thumbs up to a camera in the hallway as he walked by on his way to the courtroom on Monday afternoon, The Associated Press reported.

Jury selection is expected to get underway later Monday.

Court breaks for lunch

Update 12:30 p.m. EDT April 15: Court recessed for a lunch break after hours of debate over evidence and testimony to be included in Trump’s trial, according to CNN.

Just before the break, prosecutors asked New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan to fine Trump at least $3,000 over social media posts he made about key witnesses in the trial, despite a gag order barring him from commenting on them, The Associated Press reported.

“The defendant has demonstrated his willingness to flout the order,” prosecutor Christopher Conroy said, according to the AP. “He’s attacked witnesses in the case.”

Todd Blanche, an attorney for Trump, asked that he be allowed to respond to the request in writing, saying that his client’s posts did not violate Merchan’s order, The New York Times reported.

About 500 potential jurors waiting for selection, judge says

Update 12:20 p.m. EDT April 15: As attorneys continue to spar over evidence and testimony to include in Trump’s criminal trial, New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan said that 500 potential jurors were waiting for selection to begin, The Guardian reported.

The jury selection process is expected to begin any minute, according to CNN. Merchan has begun to read Trump his rights.

Court resumes ahead of jury selection

Update 11:45 a.m. EDT April 15: Attorneys, Trump and New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan returned to court on Monday morning to discuss more motions before the start of jury selection on Monday, according to NBC News.

Court takes a short break

Update 11:30 a.m. EDT April 15: Court proceedings have paused for a short break on Monday morning, according to The Guardian and CNN.

Trump did not speak to reporters as he left the courtroom.

Attorneys duel over testimony, evidence

Update 11:20 a.m. EDT April 15: Attorneys for Trump and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office continue to debate whether to allow different pieces of testimony or evidence into the trial, according to multiple reports.

Prosecutors have tried to enter the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape and other allegations against Trump, though a New York Supreme Court Judge denied the requests, NBC News and The Guardian reported. However, a transcript of the “Access Hollywood” tape was allowed into evidence, according to The Guardian.

The court also reviewed emails, tweets and phone calls related to the pressure campaign aimed at keeping Trump’s ex-attorney, Michael Cohen, from flipping on the former president, CNN reported.

As the attorneys went over the possible evidence, Trump hunched over in his seat and stared at a computer monitor in front of him, The Associated Press reported. The monitor showed the evidence under debate, according to the news agency.

Judge says he will allow testimony from former Playboy model

Update 10:55 a.m. EDT April 15: Testimony will be allowed into the record from former Playboy model Karen McDougal, whose claims she had an extramarital affair with Trump were also part of an alleged “catch and kill” scheme ahead of the 2016 presidential election, CNN reported.

New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan said he will allow testimony, but not about allegations that Trump continued his affair while his wife, Melania Trump, was pregnant with their son Barron and after she gave birth, according to CNN.

“At this moment, the prejudicial value of that exceeds the probative value,” the judge said.

National Enquirer stories will be allowed into evidence, judge rules

Update 10:45 a.m. EDT April 15: New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan said he will allow National Enquirer stories that attacked Trump’s opponents in the 2016 presidential election into evidence, CNN reported.

His ruling came after he said that prosecutors showed there was an understanding at the company that owned the National Enquirer, American Media Inc. or AMI, that “certain things would be done and wouldn’t be done” at the company, according to CNN.

Judge denies request to expand scope of juror questioning

Update 10:35 a.m. EDT April 15: New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan declined a request from Trump’s attorneys to widen the scope of questioning for jurors beyond a 42-point questionnaire released last week, Reuters and NBC News reported.

“This is by far the most exhaustive questionnaire this court has ever used,” Merchan said, according to Reuters. “There will be no doubt whatsoever about what potential jurors think about Mr. Trump, the prosecutors or this case.”

Judge again declines to recuse himself from case

Update 10:15 a.m. EDT April 15: New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan on Monday denied a bid from Trump to recuse himself from the case on the basis that he has a conflict of interest, Reuters reported.

Trump argued that Merchan should step back because of his daughter’s work for a political consulting firm that had Democratic clients, according to the news agency.

Last year, Merchan denied to recuse himself under a similar request from Trump after an ethics panel found that his daughter’s work did not pose reasonable questions about his impartiality, The Guardian reported.

Court convenes in New York

Update 10:05 a.m. EDT April 15: The clerk called the case in New York on Monday morning after New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan took the bench, Reuters reported.

“This is the people of the state of New York vs. Donald J. Trump,” the clerk said, according to CNN.

Merchan told attorneys that he would begin proceedings Monday with “a couple of loose ends that we have to go over before we get started,” The Guardian reported. He began with a motion to have him removed from the case, according to CNN.

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg enters courtroom

Update 10 a.m. EDT April 15: Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has entered the courtroom where Trump is awaiting the start of jury selection in his trial for falsifying business records, according to The Guardian and CNN.

New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan has not yet arrived in court, the news network reported.

Trump awaiting the start of jury selection in New York

Update 9:50 a.m. EDT April 15: Trump took a seat Monday at the defense table in a New York courtroom as he faces trial on charges of falsifying business records.

He was flanked by attorneys Todd Blanche, Emil Bove and Susan Necheles, according to The Associated Press. Before jury selection begins, there will be discussion of trial-related matters, The Guardian reported.

Hundreds of people are expected to be questioned Monday as part of the jury selection process.

Trump: ‘Nothing like this has ever happened before’

Update 9:35 a.m. EDT April 15: While walking into the courtroom on Monday, Trump spoke briefly with reporters, highlighting the historic nature of the trial against him.

“Nothing like this has ever happened before,” he said. “There’s never been anything like it.”

He repeated his claims of innocence and political persecution.

“Again, it’s a case that should never have been brought,” he said. “It’s an assault on America, and that’s why I’m very proud to be here. It’s an assault on our country.”

Trump says: ‘They’re not coming after me, they’re coming after you’

Update 9:30 a.m. EDT April 15: Trump has not spoken to reporters yet as he awaits the start of jury selection in his criminal trial in New York. However, he has shared his thoughts on social media.

Posting on his Truth Social platform on Monday morning, he wrote, “When I walk into that courtroom, I know I will have the love of 200 million Americans behind me, and I will be FIGHTING for the FREEDOM of 325 MILLION AMERICANS!”

What questions could jurors be asked during jury selection?

Update 9:25 a.m. EDT April 15: Last week, Judge Juan Merchan released a questionnaire including 42 questions for potential jurors in the Trump trial.

They included general questions, such as where the potential juror lives, and questions focused on the case, such as if they have strong feelings about former presidents being charged in state courts.

Things to know about the case

Update 9:15 a.m. EDT April 15: Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced in March 2023 that a grand jury had indicted Trump. He was charged with 34 counts of first-degree falsifying business records, charges he strongly denied.

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