Justice: First criminal trial against Donald Trump begins

For the first time in US history, an ex-president is in the dock in a criminal trial. In the highly anticipated hush money trial, Trump could even face prison if convicted.

For the first time in the history of the United States, a criminal trial against a former US president is scheduled to begin on Monday in New York: Donald Trump is accused of, among other things, falsifying business documents in connection with hush money payments to a porn star. The 77-year-old has pleaded not guilty.

According to the court, the process could take up to eight weeks. What is to be expected is an “oscillation between suggestive witness statements about sex scandals and small-scale details about company documents,” wrote the New York Times. Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump's former communications director Hope Hicks and porn actress Stormy Daniels could appear as witnesses. If convicted, Trump could face a prison sentence of several years, which could also be suspended. The jury will be selected starting Monday, which could take several days.

The lawyers of the Republican, who wants to be re-elected US President in November, had until recently tried to avert, postpone or delay the proceedings. The trial was actually scheduled to begin on March 25, but Judge Juan Merchan granted a postponement requested by the defense and prosecution in order to allow new evidence to be examined. However, Merchan and an appeals court rejected further postponements.

The background to the procedure

The background to the case is that Trump had $130,000 in hush money paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels in 2016, shortly before his election as president. She claimed to have had sex with him. Trump denies an affair, but does not deny that money was flowed.

Non-disclosure agreements between two parties are not inherently illegal. However, Trump is accused of illegally recording the payments, trying to conceal them illegally and thereby trying to cover up other violations of the law. Daniels has now publicly described her view of things many times. The recently released documentary “Stormy” also illustrates this again.

More trials against Trump

Three more criminal trials against Trump are currently being prepared in the USA, including for attempted election fraud and taking secret government documents. There are also numerous civil lawsuits. The ex-president and his legal team are trying to block or delay the proceedings by all means, and have already been partially successful in doing so.

The hush money trial involves less serious allegations than the other cases. According to experts, however, it is the process that could possibly be completed first. Trump denies all allegations against him and sees himself as a victim of a politically motivated justice system. He sees the hush money process as “election interference” and “intimidation of voters,” as he repeatedly emphasizes.