Monday, May 20, 2024

Trump does not believe in fair treatment in the bribery case

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Donald Trump in court on Monday. Photo: Jabin Botsford / AP / NTB

Of NTB | 16.04.2024 02:13:01

Policy: – We are not going to get a fair trial, Trump told reporters outside the courtroom after the first day had ended.

Trump said he has a “real problem” with the judge in the case, Juan Merchan, and he criticized the judge for denying a request by Trump to be present at a Supreme Court hearing next week.

Trump believes that, as a former president, he should be immune from criminal prosecution. This is a question that the US Supreme Court will discuss on April 25.

– The judge obviously does not allow us to go there to participate. He thinks he’s superior to the Supreme Court, I guess,” Trump said Monday.

– We have got a real problem with this judge. He is a very conflicted judge, Trump told reporters.

It is the prosecution at Manhattan State Attorney Alvin Bragg who has brought the case against Trump. On Monday, Trump again called the case a “political witch hunt” and said he should be campaigning instead.

– I’m not in Georgia, or Florida or North Carolina to campaign like I should. This is about election interference, Trump told reporters outside the courtroom.

“Nothing like this has ever happened before,” the former president said when he arrived at the courthouse in Manhattan on Monday morning local time.

– They have no case, Trump said further, and then referred to the entire legal process as a “political persecution” of himself.

Trump is charged with violating the Accounting Act in connection with a payment of $130,000 from Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen to porn actress Stormy Daniels in 2016.

Potential jurors must answer a number of questions from judge Juan Merchan, including whether they have participated in far-right groups.

The first day of the trial on Monday ended with not a single juror being selected. The first group of potential jurors consisted of 96 people.

Over half of the group was removed after they told the judge that they were not going to be fair or impartial. Others were rejected for various reasons.

A female candidate was rejected after she said she has strong opinions about Trump. Earlier in the questioning process, the woman, who lives in Harlem, had said that she was going to be neutral in the case. But when she was later asked if she had strong opinions about Trump, she replied “yes.” Merchan asked her to repeat the answer. She replied “yes, I said yes”. Thus she was sent to the door.

The selection of possible jury members will continue on Tuesday.

When a jury is finally in place, witness statements in the case follow.

Trump is required to attend the trial, which is expected to last until May. However, he has requested time off on May 17 as his youngest son Barron (18) will graduate from high school that day. One of Trump’s lawyers has also asked for time off on June 3 so he can attend his son’s graduation, AP writes.

Judge Juan M. Merchan has said he will not rule on the requests now, but that if the trial proceeds as planned, he may be willing to postpone the trial for one or both days.

“It really depends on where we are in the trial at that point,” Merchan said.

Trump denies the charges, but risks either prison, fines or probation if convicted. The indictment includes 34 counts. Each of the points can lead to a maximum of four years in prison, but in the state of New York there is an upper limit on this type of sentencing of 20 years in prison, reports CNN.

It is up to each individual judge to decide whether a sentence that includes several charges in such a case should be served at the same time or consecutively. This case does not involve charges involving violent criminal acts, nor does Trump have a previous criminal record, which means that the judge, if Trump is convicted, can choose to impose a sentence that includes prison, but only a fraction of the state’s maximum penalty, explains CNN legal analyst Laura Coates.

Another possibility, if Trump were to be convicted, is that the judge could choose not to give a prison sentence at all, but instead impose a probationary period on Trump with a conditional sentence that could trigger jail time if Trump does not comply with conditions that the judge sets.

Should Trump be convicted, however, according to the AFP news agency, legal observers believe that the most likely outcome will be fines.

The payment of the hush money took place just before the US presidential election in 2016, which Trump won. Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, allegedly received the money to cover up the fact that she and Trump had sex in a hotel ten years earlier.

The indictment against Trump is about the fact that he allegedly tried to hide the fact that he transferred money to Cohen, after the payment to Daniels. The ex-president is charged with 34 cases of falsification of business documents.

Since the aim is said to have been to get Daniels to keep quiet about what allegedly happened in 2006, the trial is called the “kickback case”.

Trump has repeatedly lashed out at both Daniels and Cohen, who is now set to testify against Trump in the trial. They are both “sleaze bags” who have cost the United States dearly with their lies, Trump recently claimed.

Prosecutors have asked Judge Merchan to fine Trump $3,000 for statements about the witnesses that the former president has published on social media. This corresponds to just under NOK 33,000. According to the prosecutor’s office, Trump’s comments in social media were a violation of the ban imposed on him to speak about witnesses in the case.

Prosecutors have also asked that Trump be ordered to remove the social media posts.

Trump has repeatedly criticized Merchan as a judge. On Monday, Merchan rejected a request from Trump’s lawyers to withdraw from the case.

Trump is the first former US president to stand trial in a criminal case, and the trial is thus historic.

The first thing that happens when the court is set is that a jury must be selected. The process can take several days because hundreds of potential candidates must be evaluated. The group is to be whittled down to just twelve jurors and six deputies.

Merchan has stated that what is important is “whether the prospective jurors can assure us that they will put aside any personal feelings or preconceived notions, and make a decision based on the evidence and the law.”

The so-called bribery case is one of four criminal cases against the 77-year-old former president. The case is referred to by legal experts as the least serious.

At the same time, the election campaign in the United States is now in full swing, where Trump hopes to make a comeback in the White House.

Trump denies the two ever had sex. At the alleged time, he had been married for a year and a half to his third wife, Melania, who later became the first lady of the United States.

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