Trump returns to court in New York for second day of criminal trial

16 April 2024, 15:34

Trump Hush Money
Trump Hush Money. Picture: PA

The first day of the trial in Manhattan on Monday ended with no one yet chosen to be on the panel of 12 jurors and six alternates.

Donald Trump returned to a New York courtroom on Tuesday as a judge works to find a panel of jurors who will decide whether the former US president is guilty of criminal charges alleging he falsified business records to cover up a sex scandal during the 2016 campaign.

The first day of Trump’s history-making trial in Manhattan on Monday ended with no one yet chosen to be on the panel of 12 jurors and six alternates.

Dozens of people were dismissed after saying they did not believe they could be fair, though dozens of other prospective jurors have yet to be questioned.

Former president Donald Trump awaits the start of proceedings on the second day of jury selection at Manhattan criminal court in New York
Donald Trump awaits the start of proceedings on the second day of jury selection at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York (Justin Lane/Pool Photo via AP)

Trump arrived to court just before 9am local time on Tuesday, giving a quick wave to reporters as he headed inside.

It is the first of Trump’s four criminal cases to go to trial and may be the only one that could reach a verdict before voters decide in November whether the presumptive Republican presidential nominee should return to the White House.

It puts Trump’s legal problems at the centre of the closely contested race against President Joe Biden, with Trump painting himself as the victim of a politically motivated justice system working to deprive him of another term.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records as part of an alleged effort to keep salacious — and, he says, bogus — stories about his sex life from emerging during his 2016 campaign.

On Monday, Trump called the case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg a “scam” and “witch hunt”.

Before entering the courtroom on Tuesday, Trump stopped briefly to address a TV camera, repeating his claim that the judge is biased against him and the case is politically motivated.

“This is a trial that should have never been brought,” Trump said.

After he went inside, reporters saw him wink at one of the court officers and mouth “How are you?” while he walked down the aisle.

Former president Donald Trump speaks to the media as he arrives for the second day of jury selection at Manhattan criminal court in New York
Donald Trump speaks to the media as he arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court (Michael M Santiago/Pool Photo via AP)

Trump then took his seat at the defence table with his lawyers.

The charges centre on 130,000 dollars (£105,000) in payments that Trump’s company made to his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen.

He paid that sum on Trump’s behalf to keep adult film actor Stormy Daniels from going public with her claims of a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier. Trump has denied the sexual encounter ever happened.

Prosecutors say the payments to Cohen were falsely logged as legal fees. Prosecutors have described it as part of a scheme to bury damaging stories Trump feared could help his opponent in the 2016 race, particularly as Trump’s reputation was suffering at the time from comments he had made about women.

Trump has acknowledged reimbursing Cohen for the payment and that it was designed to stop Ms Daniels from going public about the alleged encounter. But Trump has previously said it had nothing to do with the campaign.

“I was paying a lawyer and marked it down as a legal expense,” he said.

“That’s exactly what it was. And you get indicted over that? I should be right now in Pennsylvania, in Florida, in many other states – North Carolina, Georgia – campaigning,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday.

Members of the media gather outside Manhattan Criminal Court in New York
Members of the media gather outside Manhattan Criminal Court in New York (Yuki Iwamura/AP)

Jury selection could take several more days — or even weeks — in the heavily Democratic city where Trump grew up and catapulted to celebrity status decades before winning the White House.

Only about a third of the 96 people in the first panel of potential jurors brought into the courtroom on Monday remained after the judge excused some members.

More than half of the group was excused after telling the judge they could not be fair and impartial and several others were dismissed for other reasons that were not disclosed.

Another group of more than 100 potential jurors sent to the court on Monday was not yet brought into the courtroom for questioning.

If convicted of falsifying business records, Trump faces up to four years in prison, though there is no guarantee he will get time behind bars.

Trump’s cases involving allegations of election interference and hoarding classified documents could lead to lengthy prison sentences, but those cases are tied up with appeals or other issues that make it increasingly unlikely they will be decided before the election.

And if Trump wins in November, he could presumably order a new attorney general to dismiss his federal cases, or he potentially could seek a pardon for himself.

By Press Association

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