Donald Trump's hush-money trial confirmed to begin in March

Donald Trump in New York court
Donald Trump in New York court Copyright Mary Altaffer/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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The former president is accused of having paid to silence stories about his extramartial affairs during his 2016 presidential campaign.

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A New York judge ruled on Thursday that Donald Trump’s hush-money trial will go ahead as scheduled with jury selection starting on March 25, despite requests made by the former president's lawyers to delay proceedings.

Judge Juan Manuel Merchan took advantage of a delay in a separate case against Trump that has been brought in Washington, DC, over his efforts to interfere with the result of the 2020 election.

The former president is charged with having attempted to bury stories about extramarital affairs that arose during his 2016 presidential campaign.

The case centres on payoffs made to two women, porn actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, as well as to a Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have a story about Trump having a child out of wedlock. Trump says he didn’t have any of the alleged sexual encounters.

Trump's lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 (120,800 euros) and arranged for the publisher of the National Enquirer supermarket tabloid to pay McDougal $150,000 in a practice known as “catch-and-kill.”

Trump’s company then paid Cohen $420,000 and logged the payments as legal expenses, not reimbursements, prosecutors said.

Trump's legal team has argued that no crime was committed, and were evidently furious at the decision to keep the March date, complaining that Trump will have to stand trial in New York at the same time as he is attempting to secure the Republican presidential nomination.

“It is completely election interference to say ‘you are going to sit in this courtroom in Manhattan'," said defence lawyer Todd Blanche.

A first in US history

While Trump has faced multiple civil cases before and since his presidency, this trial will mark the first time a former US president sits in the dock as a criminal defendant.

The New York proceedings will be the first of four criminal trials Trump is due to face between now and the election in November.

Other cases charge him with seeking to overturn the 2020 election federally, interfering with the result in Georgia, and illegally hoarding classified documents at his Florida estate.

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