Opening arguments in historic trial: Prosecution accuses Trump of “election fraud”.

The prosecution accuses Donald Trump of conspiring to commit “election fraud,” while the defense calls him completely innocent: The opening statements were held on Monday in the historic New York criminal trial against the former US president. The case centers on the cover-up of a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. “It was election fraud, pure and simple,” said prosecutor Matthew Colangelo.

Trump orchestrated a “criminal plot” to “corrupt” the presidential election, the prosecutor argued in the first criminal trial in history against a former US president. Defense attorney Todd Blanche countered that Trump had committed no crimes and was “filled with innocence.” There is “nothing wrong with trying to influence an election,” Blanche said. “This is called democracy.”

Opening statements were made a week after the trial began. In the first week of the trial, the twelve jurors and six alternate jurors were selected.

The US Republicans' expected renewed presidential candidate is accused in the proceedings of having covered up the hush money of $130,000 (122,000 euros at today's rate) to Stormy Daniels by forging business documents.

Through the payment, the former porn actress was kept silent about an alleged sex affair that she said she had had with Trump in 2006, when Trump was already married to his current wife Melania and had recently had their son Barron with her.

Prosecutors argue that the payment to the porn star and the falsification of business documents were intended to keep information potentially damaging to Trump from the electorate. The indictment accuses the real estate entrepreneur of 34 counts of forgery.

Trump has pleaded not guilty. He has also denied any sexual contact with Stormy Daniels. If convicted, he could face a prison sentence – although legal experts believe this is unlikely. They are more likely to face a fine or a suspended sentence.

The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks, so the verdict will come well before the election in November, in which Trump wants to run against President Joe Biden – in a repeat of the 2020 duel. Stormy Daniels and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who transferred the hush money and later received it back from the Trump companies, are expected to testify in the trial.

Trump denounces the hush money trial – as well as the other criminal charges brought against him – as a politically motivated maneuver designed to prevent his return to the White House. When he arrived at the courthouse in the Manhattan district on Monday, the ex-president once again described the trial as “election interference” and a “witch hunt.” It was a “very, very sad day in America,” the right-wing populist told journalists.

Trump is required to attend the trial, which takes place on four out of five days of the week, which greatly reduces his time for campaign appearances. Judge Juan Merchan also responded to Trump's angry verbal attacks against the prosecutor, the judge and even his daughter by banning the defendant from speaking. This Tuesday, at the request of the prosecutors, the judge will examine whether Trump has violated the ban on speaking and whether fines should be imposed on him.

The 77-year-old is facing criminal charges in three other cases. Two of these cases involve his massive attempts to retroactively overturn his 2020 election defeat against current President Joe Biden, and another case concerns his taking secret government documents to his private residence in the US state of Florida. It is unclear when trials on these three other charges might begin.