May 28, 2024

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Explained: What Is Trump's Hush Money Trial And Who Are The Key Players

Former president Trump’s successful 2016 run for the White House is at the heart of the case.

New York:

Donald Trump will become the first former US president to face criminal trial Monday, a watershed moment for the country as November’s presidential election approaches.

The process to select the jury which will decide the case gets underway first, with a cast of key players expected in court as the case develops.

Here are the key characters linked to the trial:

– Donald Trump –

Former president Trump’s successful 2016 run for the White House is at the heart of the case.

Prosecutors allege that as he closed in on victory in 2016, he paid $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels to cover up an illicit sexual affair Trump had with her in 2006.

That in itself may not have been a crime.

But prosecutors allege that Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen then conspired to cover up the payments, illicitly concealing the transactions as legal payments in the Trump Organization’s accounts.

– Stormy Daniels –

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claimed in an interview on 60 Minutes that they met at a celebrity golf tournament in Utah in 2006.

She says that they went to Trump’s hotel room where they had sex, and the businessman suggested she appear on his hit TV show, “The Apprentice.”

Trump denies this ever happened, setting up a possible clash between her and his attorneys as she is expected to testify.

– Michael Cohen: a spurned insider –

Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, who never denied his “pitbull” moniker, has become a sworn enemy of the former president and will be the prosecution’s star witness. 

Michael Cohen paid the $130,000 to Stormy Daniels — at Donald Trump’s request, he insists — and he has a federal conviction for the payment. 

He is expected to lay out the former president’s alleged involvement to the jury, but the defense will portray him as unreliable as he was convicted of making false statements to the US Congress. 

– The prosecutor: Alvin Bragg –

A self-described “child of Harlem” who fell victim to heavy-handed NYPD tactics as a teen, Bragg went on to study at Harvard and in January 2022 became the first African-American Manhattan prosecutor. 

Elected on the Democratic ticket, he inherited the Trump case and was initially criticized for allegedly seeking to bury it — before indicting the former president. 

Bragg led the prosecution at the Trump Organization tax fraud trial, which resulted in the group’s first criminal conviction in 2022.

– Judge Juan Merchan –

Merchan is a respected magistrate in his 60s, the child of Colombian parents who relocated with him to the United States.

He has a reputation among other lawyers for being fair but firm, especially about the efficient conduct of proceedings in his court.

The case will not be heard on Wednesdays as Merchan will attend to his duties on Manhattan’s Mental Health courts, modeled after the city’s drug courts.

He has already drawn Trump’s ire with the former president attacking the veteran judge for alleged bias.

Trump went on to accuse Merchan of being unable to assure a fair trial because his daughter worked for a campaign organization linked to the Democrats.

That prompted Merchan to expand a gag order, in place to prevent Trump attacking jurors and court staff, to include his own family.

– Trump’s lawyers –

Donald Trump’s attorneys, Susan Necheles and Todd Blanche, are a pair of seasoned lawyers, experienced in white-collar crime. 

Trained at Yale Law School and head of her own legal firm, Necheles is known to be particularly tough in cross-examination. 

Todd Blanche spent ten years as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan before launching his career as a lawyer. He left a prestigious New York law firm to devote himself to defending Trump. 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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