Live updates: Opening statements to begin in Trump’s criminal trial with David Pecker lined up as first witness

Trump appears in court for fourth day of hush money trial

After a tense week of jury selection, Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial is now truly underway with opening statements from the prosecution and defence.

The jury will then hear evidence against the former president and his counter-argument before deciding his fate. The first witness will be tabloid mogul and National Enquirer owner David Pecker.

The defendant spent much of the weekend complaining about the case on Truth Social and angrily posting his presidential immunity claims — on which the Supreme Court will hear arguments this Thursday.

He was also forced to cancel a planned rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, due to bad weather while his wife Melania Trump returned to the campaign trail, hosting a conservative LGBT+ group at Mar-a-Lago.

Meanwhile, figures released by the Federal Election Commission on Saturday revealed that legal fees had eaten up three-quarters of the cash brought in by the pro-Trump Save America PAC, a key fundraising group.

Elsewhere among the myriad legal issues engulfing the former president, Monday will also see a hearing on whether to cancel Mr Trump’s $175m bond to appeal the civil fraud trial ruling and the public filing of witness statements in the classified documents case.

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Judge rules prosecutors can introduce some past cases if Trump testifies

(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Alex Woodward reports from the courtroom:

Judge Juan Merchan has ruled that prosecutors may introduce the following past cases and judgments on cross-examination if Donald Trump testifies:

  1. Judge Arthur Engoron’s judgment in the civil fraud trial
  2. The fraud trial’s gag order violation
  3. The fraud trial’s second gag order violation
  4. The E Jean Carroll defamation verdicts

The jury is now entering the courtroom.

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 14:59

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Trump an his surrogates claim he would be out campaigning — is that true?

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 14:56

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Watch: Trump rages about bond in civil fraud case on way into first criminal trial

Donald Trump appeared fixated on the bond he posted for his civil fraud trial ruling as he was on the way into the courtroom for his first criminal trial.

Here’s what the former president had to say:

Mr Trump seemed to remember that he got into trouble a few times during that trial and backed off from naming the “crazed judge” — we all know he is referring to Judge Arthur Engoron.

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 14:52

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Concerned juror will remain on case

Alex Woodward reports from the courtroom for The Independent:

Juror 9 will remain on the case after speaking with Judge Juan Merchan and prosecution and defence lawyers.

“So that’s not going to be the issue,” Merchan says.

The prosecution’s opening statement will be 40 minutes, and the defence statement will take 25 minutes.

Some housekeeping matters will be dealt with first.

First, on a defence request for clarification on the Access Hollywood tape.

“I don’t really see the confusion,” Merchan says. “At this point, I don’t really see any reason why a transcript that accurately summarises what was on the tape can’t be submitted into evidence.”

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 14:45

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First picture of Trump at defence table

Here’s Donald Trump seated at the defence table giving his courtroom pose.

Former president Donald Trump seated at the defence table awaiting opening statements in his hush money trial (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 14:42

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Juror expressing concern about media attention

A juror has expressed concern about media attention in the case and will speak with the judge. Lawyers have gone into a side room to join them.

CNN reports that the day will only run until 12.30pm as an alternate has a dentist appointment.

Donald Trump is seated at the defence table looking straight ahead.

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 14:40

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Trump continues to baselessly claim Biden behind criminal cases against him

President Joe Biden has no jurisdiction or influence over criminal indictments brought against Mr Trump at the local or state level (Manhattan and Georgia).

At the federal level, the Department of Justice handed its two investigations (into the classified documents in Florida and the events leading up to January 6 in Washington, DC) over to Special Counsel Jack Smith for the very purpose of avoiding a conflict of interest.

Further, all four Trump criminal cases were assessed by members of the public in respective grand juries who recommended that prosecutions proceed.

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 14:37

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Trump arrives at courthouse

Donald Trump has arrived at the courthouse and is making remarks in the hallway outside of the courtroom.

The former president says that he is here instead of being in Pennsylvania and other places campaigning.

Continuing, he says that is very unfair and a witch hunt, and it’s a shame, and it comes out of Washington.

“I just want people to understand this was done with purpose of hurting the opponent of one of the worst presidents,” he says.

He then went into a long rambling defence of the bond he put up in the civil fraud case which is being questioned by New York Attorney General Letitia James and called Judge Arthur Engoron an “extremely crazed judge”.

“It’s a very, very sad day in America, I can tell you that. Thank you very much.”

He’s inside the courtroom now. We’re still not.

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 14:29

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Who are the prosecution team?

While Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg brought the charges against former president Donald Trump, the case will be laid out by a team of three prosecutors — Joshua Steinglass, Matthew Colangelo, and Susan Hoffinger.

We don’t know yet which of them will present the prosecution’s opening statement.

Here’s Ariana Baio’s breakdown of who’s who in the case:

Meet the key players in Trump’s hush money trial

From a porn star and a Playboy model to a supermarket tabloid publisher – by way of a lawyer-turned-felon – the cast of characters in the first-ever criminal trial of a former president could hardly be more colourful. Ariana Baio reports

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 14:24

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Full story: Trump’s legal fees eat into his campaign funds

Donald Trump’s legal fees are taking a chunk out of his campaign funds – with one of the groups that has underwritten many of those costs having spent nearly $3.7m last month.

The money Save America spent on legal expenses rivals the $3.7 million Trump’s campaign committee spent altogether in March. It comes after President Joe Biden’s campaign spent $29.2 million on his campaign in March, including a barrage of media buys in swing states.

Oliver O’Connell22 April 2024 14:05


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