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Former President Donald Trump is currently facing a hush money trial with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. The trial began with jury selection, where over 500 potential jurors are being questioned to determine if they can fairly evaluate the charges. The case centers around payments made by Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to Stormy Daniels, a former pornographic actor, to silence her claims of an affair with Trump in 2006. Trump has denied the affair and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Prosecutors allege that reimbursements from the Trump Organization to Cohen were falsely recorded as legal expenses.

During the trial, Trump has vehemently protested the charges, calling the case “political persecution” and an “assault on America.” He has accused the Biden administration of orchestrating the trial and criticized the restrictions placed on him, including a gag order preventing him from discussing witnesses and anticipated testimony. Trump’s legal team argued that he was defending himself against attacks by witnesses. Prosecutors have pushed for a $3,000 fine for Trump violating the gag order on social media posts. The judge will hear arguments on the matter before making a decision.

The trial also touched on whether the jury should be shown the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Trump boasted about his ability to grope and kiss women due to his celebrity status. The prosecution argued that the tape is evidence of sexual assault, but the judge ultimately decided that the jury would not be shown the video. The massive media presence outside the courtroom reflects the significance of this trial, which marks the first time a former president will stand trial on criminal charges. Trump, who is also juggling a presidential campaign, criticized the judge’s decision not to allow him to attend his son’s graduation next month.

Trump has been vocal about his belief that the trial is a sham and a politically motivated attack. He accused the judge of preventing him from attending important events, such as his son’s graduation and a Supreme Court hearing regarding his immunity from prosecution in another case. The trial is expected to last at least six weeks, with the first day filled with arguments over the gag order and the inclusion of evidence like the “Access Hollywood” tape. The case will resume with continued jury selection, setting the stage for what promises to be a highly contentious and closely watched trial.

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