Donald Trump Announces 2016 White House Bid

spaminator

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Judge rejects Trump’s First Amendment challenge to indictment in Georgia election case
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Kate Brumback
Published Apr 04, 2024 • 3 minute read

Georgia-Election-Indictment

ATLANTA (AP) — The judge overseeing the Georgia election interference case against Donald Trump and others rejected on Thursday arguments by the former president that the indictment seeks to criminalize political speech protected by the First Amendment.


The indictment issued in August by a Fulton County grand jury accused Trump and 18 others of participating in a wide-ranging scheme to illegally try to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia after the Republican incumbent narrowly lost the state to Democrat Joe Biden. Trump’s attorneys argued that all the charges against him involved political speech that is protected even if the speech ends up being false.

But Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee wrote that at this pretrial stage he must consider the language of the indictment in a light favorable to the prosecution. The charges do not suggest that Trump and the others are being prosecuted simply for making false statements but rather that they acted willfully and knowingly to harm the government, he wrote.


“Even core political speech addressing matters of public concern is not impenetrable from prosecution if allegedly used to further criminal activity,” the judge wrote.

He added that even lawful acts involving speech protected by the First Amendment can be used to support a charge under Georgia’s anti-racketeering law, which prosecutors used in this case.

But McAfee did leave open the possibility that Trump and others could raise similar arguments “at the appropriate time after the establishment of a factual record.”

Steve Sadow, Trump’s lead attorney in Georgia, said in an email that Trump and the other defendants “respectfully disagree with Judge McAfee’s order and will continue to evaluate their options regarding the First Amendment challenges.” He called it significant that McAfee made it clear they could raise their challenges again later.


A spokesperson for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis declined to comment.

McAfee’s order echoes an earlier ruling in the federal election interference case against Trump brought by Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote in December that “it is well established that the First Amendment does not protect speech that is used as an instrument of a crime.”

McAfee also rejected arguments from Trump co-defendant and former Georgia Republican Party chairman David Shafer challenging certain charges and asking that certain phrases be struck from the indictment. Most of the charges against Shafer have to do with his involvement in the casting of Electoral College votes for Trump by a group of Georgia Republicans even though the state’s election had been certified in favor of Biden.


His lawyers argue that the following phrases are used to assert that the Democratic slate of electors was valid and the Republican slate was not: “duly elected and qualified presidential electors,” “false Electoral College votes” and “lawful electoral votes.” The lawyers said those are “prejudicial legal conclusions” about issues that should be decided by the judge or by the jury at trial.

McAfee wrote that “the challenged language is not prejudicial because it accurately describes the alleged offenses and makes the charges more easily understood by providing a basis to differentiate the allegedly lawful and unlawful acts of presidential electors (as theorized by the State.)” He noted that jurors are repeatedly instructed that an indictment should not be considered evidence.

No trial date has been set for the sprawling Georgia case, one of four criminal cases pending against Trump as he seeks to return to the White House, though Willis has asked for the trial to begin in August. Four people have pleaded guilty after reaching deals with prosecutors. Trump and the others who remain have pleaded not guilty.
 

spaminator

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Appeals court rejects Donald Trump's latest attempt to delay April 15 hush money criminal trial
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Jennifer Peltz And Michael R. Sisak
Published Apr 09, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 4 minute read

Trump-Hush-Money

NEW YORK — A New York appeals court judge Tuesday rejected Donald Trump’s latest attempt to delay his hush money criminal trial, taking just 12 minutes to swat aside an argument that it should be postponed while the former president fights a gag order.


Justice Cynthia Kern’s ruling was the second time in as many days that the state’s mid-level appeals court refused to postpone the trial, set to begin next week, further narrowing any plausible path to the delay that Trump’s legal team has repeatedly sought.


Trump’s lawyers wanted the trial delayed until a full panel of appellate court judges could hear arguments on lifting or modifying a gag order that bans him from making public statements about jurors, witnesses and others connected to the hush-money case.

They argue the gag order is an unconstitutional curb on the presumptive Republican nominee’s free speech rights while he’s campaigning for president and fighting criminal charges.

“The First Amendment harms arising from this gag order right now are irreparable,” Trump lawyer Emil Bove said at an emergency hearing Tuesday in the state’s mid-level appeals court.


Bove argued that Trump shouldn’t be muzzled while critics, including his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen and porn actor Stormy Daniels, routinely assail him. Both are key prosecution witnesses.

Bove also argued that the order unconstitutionally restricts Trump’s critiques of the case — and, with them, his ability to speak to the voting public and its right to hear from him.

Steven Wu, the appellate chief for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, countered that there is a “public interest in protecting the integrity of the trial.”

“What we are talking about here is the defendant’s uncontested history of making inflammatory, denigrating” comments about people involved in the case, Wu said. “This is not political debate. These are insults.”


Wu said prosecutors already have had trouble getting some witnesses to testify “because they know what their names in the press may lead to.” Wu didn’t identify the witnesses but noted they included people who would testify about record-keeping practices.

The gag order still affords Trump “free rein to talk about a host of issues,” noting that he can comment on Judge Juan M. Merchan and District Attorney Alvin Bragg and “raise political arguments as he sees fit.” Trump has repeatedly lambasted Bragg, a Democrat, and the judge.

Barring further court action, jury selection will begin on April 15.

Merchan issued the gag order last month at prosecutors’ urging, then expanded it last week to prohibit comments about his own family after Trump lashed out on social media at the judge’s daughter, a Democratic political consultant, and made what the court system said were false claims about her.


Tuesday was the second of back-to-back days for Trump’s lawyers in the appeals court. Associate Justice Lizbeth Gonzalez on Monday rejected their request to delay the trial while Trump seeks to move his case out of heavily Democratic Manhattan.

Trump’s lawyers framed their gag order appeal as a lawsuit against Merchan. In New York, judges can be sued to challenge some decisions under a state law known as Article 78.

Trump has used the tactic before, including against the judge in his recent New York civil fraud trial in an unsuccessful last-minute bid to delay that case last fall and again when that judge imposed a gag order barring trial participants from commenting publicly on court staffers. That order came after Trump smeared the judge’s principal law clerk in a social media post.


A sole appeals judge lifted the civil trial gag order, but an appellate panel restored it two weeks later.

Trump’s hush-money criminal case involves allegations that he falsified his company’s records to hide the nature of payments to Cohen, who helped him bury negative stories during his 2016 campaign. Cohen’s activities included paying Daniels $130,000 to suppress her claims of an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump years earlier.

Trump pleaded not guilty last year to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. He has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels. His lawyers argue the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal expenses.

Trump has made numerous attempts to get the trial postponed.


Last week, as Merchan swatted away various requests to delay the trial, Trump renewed his request for the judge to step aside from the case. The judge rejected a similar request last August.

Trump’s lawyers allege the judge is biased against him and has a conflict of interest because of his daughter Loren’s work as president of Authentic Campaigns, a firm with clients that have included President Joe Biden and other Democrats. Trump’s attorneys complained the expanded gag order was shielding the Merchans “from legitimate public criticism.”

Merchan had long resisted imposing a gag order. At Trump’s arraignment in April 2023, he admonished Trump not to make statements that could incite violence or jeopardize safety, but stopped short of muzzling him. At a subsequent hearing, Merchan noted Trump’s “special” status as a former president and current candidate and said he was “bending over backwards” to ensure Trump has every opportunity “to speak in furtherance of his candidacy.”


Merchan became increasingly wary of Trump’s rhetoric disrupting the historic trial as it grew near. In issuing the gag order, he said his obligation to ensuring the integrity of the proceedings outweighed First Amendment concerns.

Trump reacted on social media that the gag order was “illegal, un-American, unConstitutional” and said Merchan was “wrongfully attempting to deprive me of my First Amendment Right to speak out against the Weaponization of Law Enforcement” by Democratic rivals.

Trump suggested without evidence that Merchan’s decision-making was influenced by his daughter’s professional interests and made a claim, later repudiated by court officials, that Loren Merchan had posted a social media photo showing Trump behind bars.

After the outburst, Merchan expanded the gag order April 1 to prohibit Trump from making statements about the judge’s family or Bragg’s family.

“They can talk about me but I can’t talk about them???” Trump reacted on his Truth Social platform.
 

petros

The Central Scrutinizer
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Low Earth Orbit
That's three in one week.

You know what they say about three strikes.
Steal a Pizza - Get Life in Prison!

It could happen to you. It did happen to Jerry DeWayne Williams, who was convicted for stealing a single slice of pepperoni pizza from a group of children. He received a third strike sentence because he had two prior felony strike convictions.

https://www.lacriminaldefenseattorney.com › ...
California Three Strikes Law | Los Angeles Felony Defense Lawyer
 

justfred

Electoral Member
Dec 26, 2004
230
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Does anyone know if a suggestion has been made to old Donnie that instead of mouthing off on his UN-truth social, for him to spend his time devising a defence that has merit in court, rather that saying he is innocent. I think that society in USA, have the idea that he has lied before, and if his only defence is to continue to lie, he has no choice.

I think also that he may do himself some good if did ONE thing within the law, as an offering that he can do something within the law. At the same time we have to accept that he does things according to his own rules, and cannot accept that the rules of law are different.
 

spaminator

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Judge in Trump’s classified files case agrees to redact witness names, granting prosecution request
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Eric Tucker
Published Apr 10, 2024 • 2 minute read
A federal judge is set to hear arguments on whether to dismiss the classified documents prosecution of Donald Trump. His lawyers say the former president was entitled under the Presidential Records Act to keep the sensitive documents with him when he left the White House and headed to Florida. A federal judge is set to hear arguments on whether to dismiss the classified documents prosecution of Donald Trump. His lawyers say the former president was entitled under the Presidential Records Act to keep the sensitive documents with him when he left the White House and headed to Florida.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal judge presiding over the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump granted a request by prosecutors on Tuesday aimed at protecting the identities of potential government witnesses.


But U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon refused to categorically block witness statements from being disclosed, saying there was no basis for such a “sweeping” and “blanket” restriction on their inclusion in pretrial motions.


The 24-page order centers on a dispute between special counsel Jack Smith’s team and lawyers for Trump over how much information about witnesses and their statements could be made public ahead of trial. The disagreement, which had been pending for weeks, was one of many that had piled up before Cannon and had slowed the pace of the case against Trump — one of four prosecutions he is confronting.

The case remains without a firm trial date, though both sides have said they could be ready this summer. Cannon, who earlier faced blistering criticism over her decision to grant Trump’s request for an independent arbiter to review documents obtained during an FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, made clear her continued skepticism of the government’s theory of prosecution, saying Tuesday that the case raised “still-developing and somewhat muddled questions.”


In reconsidering an earlier order and siding with prosecutors on the protection of witness identities, Cannon likely averted a dramatic exacerbation of tensions with Smith’s team, which last week called a separate order from the judge “fundamentally flawed.”

The issue surfaced in January when defense lawyers filed in partially redacted form a motion that sought to require prosecutors to turn over a trove of documents that they said would bolster their claim that the Biden administration had sought to “weaponize” the government in charging Trump.

Defense lawyers asked permission to file the motion, which included as attachments information that they had obtained from prosecutors, in mostly unredacted form. But prosecutors objected to unsealing the motion to the extent that it would reveal the identity of any potential government witness.


Cannon then granted the defense request for the motion and its exhibits to be filed in unredacted form as long as the personal identifying information of witnesses remained sealed. Smith’s team asked her to reconsider, saying that witnesses could be exposed to threats and harassments if publicly identified.

In agreeing Tuesday for the witness names to remain redacted, she wrote, “Although the record is clear that the Special Counsel could have, and should have, raised its current arguments previously, the Court elects, upon a full review of those newly raised arguments, to reconsider its prior Order.”

Still, the order was not a complete win for prosecutors.

Cannon rejected a request by Smith’s team to seal from pretrial motions the substance of all witness statements, with the exception of information that could be used to identify witnesses.

“As for legal authority, the cases cited in the Special Counsel’s papers do not lend support to this sweeping request; nor do they appear to have been offered as such,” Cannon wrote. “And based on the Court’s independent research, granting this request would be unprecedented: the Court cannot locate any case _ high-profile or otherwise — in which a court has authorized anything remotely similar to the sweeping relief sought here.”
 

pgs

Hall of Fame Member
Nov 29, 2008
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B.C.
Does anyone know if a suggestion has been made to old Donnie that instead of mouthing off on his UN-truth social, for him to spend his time devising a defence that has merit in court, rather that saying he is innocent. I think that society in USA, have the idea that he has lied before, and if his only defence is to continue to lie, he has no choice.

I think also that he may do himself some good if did ONE thing within the law, as an offering that he can do something within the law. At the same time we have to accept that he does things according to his own rules, and cannot accept that the rules of law are different.
No . Do you ?
 

spaminator

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New York appeals court rejects Donald Trump's third request to delay Monday's hush money trial
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Michael R. Sisak And Jake Offenhartz
Published Apr 10, 2024 • 4 minute read
The first-ever trial of a former U.S. president will feature allegations that Trump falsified business records while compensating one of his lawyers, Michael Cohen, for burying stories about extramarital affairs that arose during the 2016 presidential race.
The first-ever trial of a former U.S. president will feature allegations that Trump falsified business records while compensating one of his lawyers, Michael Cohen, for burying stories about extramarital affairs that arose during the 2016 presidential race.
NEW YORK — Donald Trump is now 0 for 3 in last-minute attempts to get a New York appeals court to delay his looming hush money criminal trial. An appeals court judge Wednesday swiftly rejected the latest salvo from the former president’s lawyers, who argued he should be on the campaign trail rather than “in a courtroom defending himself” starting next week.


Trump’s lawyers had asked the state’s mid-level appeals court to halt the case indefinitely while they fight to remove the trial judge and challenge several of his pretrial rulings, which they argue have seriously hindered the presumptive Republican nominee’s defence.


Justice Ellen Gesmer’s ruling, after a third straight day of emergency hearings on Trump’s delay requests, was yet another loss for Trump, who has tried repeatedly to get the trial postponed. Barring further court action, the ruling clears the way for jury selection to begin next Monday.

“We’re here for this stay because there are restrictions in place that cannot operate in a constitutional way in a trial environment,” Trump lawyer Emil Bove argued at the hearing, which was held in a court basement lobby because the regular courtroom was in use.


“It’s an incredibly important trial. It’s a historic, unprecedented proceeding,” Bove said, adding: “This can only be done once and it must be done right.”

Trump’s hush-money case is the first of his four criminal indictments slated to go to trial and would be the first criminal trial ever of a former president.

Adding to a litany of complaints registered this week with the appeals court, Bove argued that trial Judge Juan Merchan “exceeded his authority” in refusing to postpone the case until the Supreme Court rules on an immunity claim Trump raised in another of his criminal cases. Trump’s lawyers argue some evidence in the hush-money case could be excluded if the Supreme Court rules in his favour.

Merchan last week declared that request untimely, ruling that Trump’s lawyers had “myriad opportunities” to raise the immunity issue before they finally did so in March, well after a deadline for pretrial motions had passed.


Steven Wu, the appellate chief for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, echoed that sentiment at Wednesday’s emergency hearing. He argued that Trump’s lawyers had months to raise immunity and other issues and should not be rewarded with a delay at the eleventh hour.

“Staying the trial at this point would be incredibly disruptive,” Wu said. “The court, the people, witnesses have made extraordinary efforts to make sure this trial can take place on Monday.”

“There’s a powerful public interest to ensure this criminal trial goes forward,” he added.

Gesmer presided over the emergency hearing from an armchair, facing a hodgepodge of wooden seats, a collapsable table and a restroom.

Trump is accused of falsifying his company’s records to hide the nature of payments to his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who helped Trump bury negative stories during his 2016 campaign. Cohen’s activities included paying porn actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 to suppress her claims of an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump years earlier.


Trump pleaded not guilty last year to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. He has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels. His lawyers argue the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal expenses.

Trump already struck out twice this week with the appeals court. One appeals court judge Monday rejected his bid to delay the trial while he seeks to move it out of Manhattan. A different judge on Tuesday denied a request, framed as part of a lawsuit against Merchan, that the trial be delayed while Trump fights a gag order imposed on him in recent weeks.

Trump’s lawyers had asked Merchan last month to adjourn the New York trial indefinitely until Trump’s immunity claim in his Washington, D.C., election interference case is resolved.


Trump contends he is immune from prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office. His lawyers have not raised that as a defence in the hush-money case, but they argued that some evidence — including Trump’s social media posts about former lawyer Cohen — is from his time as president and should be excluded from the trial because of his immunity protections.

The Supreme Court is to hear arguments in that matter on April 25.

“This is a situation where a judge has exceeded his authority under circumstances with very, very serious federalism implications,” Bove argued at Wednesday’s emergency hearing.

Trump’s lawyers also renewed their argument that Merchan should step aside from the case. They’ve accused him of bias and a conflict of interest, citing his daughter’s work as the head of a firm whose clients have included President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other Democrats.


Trump’s lawyers filed a formal recusal request with Merchan last week. The judge rejected a similar request in August and has not ruled on Trump’s pending request. The judge has also yet to rule on another defence delay request, which claims that Trump won’t get a fair trial because of “prejudicial media coverage.”

“Their recusal arguments are completely meritless,” Wu argued.

Trump’s lawyers also took issue with a protocol Merchan put in place last month to manage a flood of last-minute court filings. And, they revisited their complaints — aired at an emergency hearing Tuesday — about the gag order Merchan imposed on Trump last month that bars him from making public comments about witnesses, jurors and others regarding their connections to the case.

Trump’s ability to campaign “is something that’s protected under the First Amendment, for President Trump and the American people,” Bove argued.
 

spaminator

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How a hush money scandal tied to a porn star led to Trump’s first criminal trial
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Michael R. Sisak And Eric Tucker
Published Apr 13, 2024 • 6 minute read

NEW YORK — It was the kind of tawdry tale that Donald Trump might have relished before politics: a porn actor claiming they had had sex.


But on the eve of the 2016 presidential election, Trump feared the story, which he says is false, would cost him votes. So, prosecutors say, he arranged to pay Stormy Daniels to keep quiet.


Now, after years of fits and starts before an indictment last year, Trump is set to stand trial Monday in New York on state charges related to the very sex scandal that he and his aides strove to hide.

Barring a last-minute delay, it will be the first of Trump’s four criminal cases to go to trial. It will be an unprecedented event in U.S. history — the first criminal trial of a former president.

It wasn’t always clear the hush money allegations would even lead to charges — let alone be the first to reach trial. It is arguably the least perilous of Trump’s indictments, with others involving government secrets and threats to democracy.


Yet it is almost certain to be the most salacious, with testimony expected about alleged marital infidelity, a supermarket tabloid’s complicity in a cover-up, and payouts orchestrated by a former Trump loyalist who now counts himself among the ex-president’s enemies.

Many details of the case have been public since 2018, when federal prosecutors charged Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen with campaign finance crimes in connection with a scheme to bury not only Daniels’ claims, but other potentially damaging stories from Trump’s playboy past.

They later implicated Trump as directing Cohen’s efforts, obliquely identifying him in court papers as “Individual-1.” Justice Department policy forbids charging a sitting president with a crime, and nothing came of it.


In the ensuing years, the saga of sex, politics and coverups largely faded from the headlines, eclipsed by an investigation into Russian election interference, Trump’s two impeachments and allegations that he plotted to overturn his 2020 election and hoarded classified documents after leaving office.

Former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. examined the circumstances of a $130,000 payout that Cohen made to Daniels and declined to take the politically explosive step of seeking Trump’s indictment.

The district attorney’s office was so unsure about the hush money case that it became known among prosecutors as the “zombie case.” They would revisit it, then abandon it again as they pursued Trump on multiple fronts over the last five years, going to the Supreme Court twice to obtain his tax records and prosecuting his company and a top executive for tax fraud.


Vance’s successor, Alvin Bragg, a Democrat who took office in January 2022, saw the hush money case differently.

The grand jury convened in January 2023. It heard from Cohen, now an outspoken critic of his ex-boss, and other witnesses, including the former publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid, which helped Trump by buying some negative stories and suppressing them in a practice known as “catch-and-kill.”

The grand jury voted to indict on March 30, 2023, on charges that Trump had falsified his company’s internal records to obscure the true nature of payments made to Cohen to reimburse him for his work covering up potentially embarrassing stories. The charges are felonies punishable by up to four years in prison, though there is no guarantee that a conviction would result in prison time.


Trump denies the allegations, saying it is prosecutors who are engaging in “election interference” and a “witch hunt.” He has pleaded not guilty.

In a court filing, Bragg’s office framed the prosecution as another of Trump’s election interference cases, accusing the Republican of orchestrating an “expansive and corrupt criminal scheme to conceal damaging information from the voting public” and “undermine the integrity of the 2016 presidential election.”

In the indictment paperwork, prosecutors told of a multipart scheme dating to the early days of Trump’s 2016 campaign to suppress stories alleging he had extramarital sexual encounters.

Before the Daniels payment, prosecutors said, Cohen arranged for the National Enquirer to pay $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed she had a monthslong affair with Trump. The tabloid also paid $30,000 to a Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have a story about a child he alleged Trump had out of wedlock.


Trump, reeling from the October surprise of the never-before-seen 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape in which he boasted about grabbing women’s genitals, then directed Cohen to arrange the payment to Daniels, who was agitating to come forward with her claims that they had a sexual encounter at a 2006 celebrity golf outing in Lake Tahoe, California, according to the indictment.

Trump’s arraignment, five days after the indictment, was a spectacle attracting hordes of news media, supporters and protesters. His trial will take place in the same courtroom — and the same cauldron.

After Trump’s New York indictment, others followed in rapid succession.

Within 70 days, special counsel Jack Smith charged Trump in Florida with keeping classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Fifty-four days after that, Smith charged Trump in Washington with attempting to subvert the 2020 election in the lead-up to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. Two weeks later, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in Atlanta charged Trump with racketeering and other charges in a similar election subversion case.


While the New York case has progressed at a rapid clip, Trump’s other criminal cases seem increasingly unlikely to come to trial before the November election.

The Atlanta case has been slowed by allegations of impropriety against the top prosecutor, the Washington case by a Supreme Court appeal on a legally untested immunity question and the Florida prosecution by a slew of unresolved motions.

“Partly it’s just that there are fewer of those practical obstacles to making the case move along, and maybe in some degree, this is a simpler case,” said Alex Reinert, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City.

Trump has tried repeatedly to get the New York trial delayed as well. His lawyers were rejected three times this week in trying to get a state appeals court to put off the case.

In its allegations of hefty payments to stifle an election-year sex story, the case bears some cautionary parallels to the Justice Department’s unsuccessful prosecution of former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. He was charged with campaign finance crimes in connection with nearly $1 million secretly provided by two wealthy donors who helped hide his pregnant mistress during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

Defence lawyers argued that the money was meant to conceal the affair from his wife, not to boost his election chances. Edwards was ultimately acquitted on one charge while a jury deadlocked on five other counts.

Jeremy Saland, a former Manhattan assistant district attorney who now works as a criminal defence lawyer, said that because of the magnitude of the case, Bragg must believe he has a more winnable case against Trump.


“He has to be going into the courtroom believing that he has the goods,” Saland said. “Otherwise, for the psyche of America, it could be catastrophic — that a former president is prosecuted in a case that ends up falling flat on its face, and even if not true, appearing like a sham.”

But he said that if the allegations are proved, it would still amount to “significant misconduct of somebody who was vying to be at the time the leader of the free world.” For those who say, “Come on, it’s just hush money,” he said he believed “that we hold our elected officials to a higher standard and we subject them to more scrutiny, and rightfully so.”

— Tucker reported from Washington.
 

spaminator

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A look at how jury selection will work in Donald Trump’s first criminal trial
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Apr 14, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 4 minute read

NEW YORK — Donald Trump’s history-making criminal trial is set to start Monday with a simple but extraordinary procedural step that is vital to American democracy. A group of regular citizens — Trump’s peers, in the eyes of the law — will be chosen to decide whether the former president of the United States is guilty of a crime.


The process of picking a jury could take days. Lawyers on both sides of the case will have limited opportunities to try and shape the panel in their favour, but the court’s goal won’t be to ensure that it has a partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans, or is made up of people oblivious to previous news coverage about the trial.


The idea is to get people who are willing to put their personal opinions aside and make a decision based on the evidence and the law.

Here are some of the factors that will go into jury selection:

Who can sit on the jury?
This jury will be made up only of people who live in Manhattan, one of New York City’s five boroughs. All English-speaking, U.S. citizens over age 18 who have not been convicted of a felony are eligible for jury duty in New York. Court officials identify potential jurors from lists of registered voters, taxpayers, driver’s license holders, public benefit recipients and other sources.


The pool of potential jurors for Trump’s trial will have been chosen at random. People can volunteer for jury duty, but they can’t pick what trial they serve on.

What if a juror doesn’t want to serve?
Jury duty is compulsory, but you can get excused for a variety of reasons, including a financial or medical hardship.

How will the jury get picked?
Judge Juan M. Merchan will begin by bringing a large group of potential jurors into his courtroom. He will then give a brief outline of the case and introduce the defendant, Trump, to the jury. The judge will then ask the potential jurors a critical question: Can they serve and be fair and impartial? Those who cannot will be asked to raise their hand. For this trial, jurors who indicate they cannot serve or be fair will be dismissed.


Those who remain will be called in groups into the jury box, where they will be asked 42 questions, some with multiple parts.

The lawyers on each side will have a limited number of strikes they can use to exclude potential jurors who they don’t like, without giving a reason. They can also argue that a particular juror should be excluded, but have to get the judge to agree to dismiss that person.

The process continues until 12 jurors and six alternates have been picked. More large groups of potential jurors can be brought into the courtroom, if needed.

What questions will jurors be asked?
The judge won’t allow the lawyers to ask whether potential jurors are Democrats or Republicans, whom they voted for or whether they have given money to any political causes. But there are multiple questions aimed at rooting out whether people are likely to be biased against, or in favour of, Trump.


Among them:

“Do you have any political, moral, intellectual, or religious beliefs or opinions which might prevent you from following the court’s instructions on the law or which might slant your approach to this case?”

“Have you, a relative, or a close friend ever worked or volunteered for a Trump presidential campaign, the Trump presidential administration, or any other political entity affiliated with Mr. Trump?”

“Have you ever attended a rally or campaign event for Donald Trump?”

“Do you currently follow Donald Trump on any social media site or have you done so in the past?”

“Have you, a relative, or a close friend ever worked or volunteered for any anti-Trump group or organization?”

“Have you ever attended a rally or campaign event for any anti-Trump group or organization?”


“Do you currently follow any anti-Trump group or organization on any social media site, or have you done so in the past?”

“Have you ever considered yourself a supporter of or belonged to any of the following: The QAnon movement, Proud Boys, Oathkeepers, Three Percenters, Boogaloo Boys, Antifa.”

Jurors will be asked what podcasts and talk radio programs they listen to and where they get their news.

Will the public learn the identities of the jurors?
The judge has ordered that the jurors’ names be kept secret, an unusual but not unprecedented step in trials where there is a potential that jurors might wind up being harassed or threatened during or after the trial. There is nothing to stop jurors from voluntarily talking about their experiences after the trial is over. While it is pending, they aren’t supposed to talk about it to anyone.

What will this jury decide?
Jurors in this trial will listen to testimony and decide whether Trump is guilty of any of 34 counts of falsifying business records. Their decision to convict or acquit must be unanimous. If they cannot agree on a verdict, the judge can declare a mistrial. If jurors have a reasonable doubt that Trump is guilty, they must acquit him. If they convict him, the judge will be the one who decides the sentence, not the jurors.
 

spaminator

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Potential jurors called into courtroom for start of Trump’s historic hush-money trial
Former U.S. president has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records

Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Jennifer Peltz, Michael R. Sisak and Eric Tucker
Published Apr 15, 2024 • Last updated 2 days ago • 6 minute read

NEW YORK (AP) — The historic hush-money trial of Donald Trump got underway Monday with the arduous process of selecting a jury to hear the case charging the former president with falsifying business records in order to stifle stories about his sex life.


The day ended without any jurors being chosen. The selection process was scheduled to resume Tuesday.


The first criminal trial of any former U.S. president began as Trump vies to reclaim the White House, creating a remarkable split-screen spectacle of the presumptive Republican nominee spending his days as a criminal defendant while simultaneously campaigning for office. He’s blended those roles over the last year by presenting himself to supporters, on the campaign trail and on social media, as a target of politically motivated prosecutions designed to derail his candidacy.

“It’s a scam. It’s a political witch hunt. It continues, and it continues forever,” Trump said after exiting the courtroom, where he sat at the defense table with his lawyers.


After a norm-shattering presidency shadowed by years of investigations, the trial amounts to a reckoning for Trump, who faces four indictments charging him with crimes ranging from hoarding classified documents to plotting to overturn an election. Yet the political stakes are less clear because a conviction would not preclude him from becoming president and because the allegations in this case date back years and are seen as less grievous than the conduct behind the three other indictments.

The day began with pretrial arguments — including over a potential fine for Trump — before moving in the afternoon into jury selection, where the parties will decide who among them might be picked to determine the legal fate of the former, and potentially future, American president.


After the first members of the jury pool, 96 in all, were summoned into the courtroom, Trump craned his neck to look back at them, whispering to his lawyer as they entered the jury box.

“You are about to participate in a trial by jury. The system of trial by jury is one of the cornerstones of our judicial system,” Judge Juan Merchan told the jurors. “The name of this case is the People of the State of New York vs. Donald Trump.”

Trump’s notoriety would make the process of picking 12 jurors and six alternates a near-herculean task in any year, but it’s likely to be especially challenging now, unfolding in a closely contested presidential election in the heavily Democratic city where Trump grew up and catapulted to celebrity status decades before winning the White House.


Underscoring the difficulty, only about a third of the 96 people in the first panel of potential jurors remained after the judge excused some members. More than half the group was excused after telling the judge they could not be fair and impartial. At least nine more were excused after raising their hands when Merchan asked if they could not serve for any other reason.

A female juror was excused after saying she had strong opinions about Trump. Earlier in the questionnaire, the woman, a Harlem resident, indicated she could be neutral in deciding the case. But when asked whether she had strong opinions about the former president, the woman answered matter-of-factly: “Yes.”

When Merchan asked her to repeat the response, she replied: “Yeah, I said yes.” She was dismissed.


Merchan has written that the key is “whether the prospective juror can assure us that they will set aside any personal feelings or biases and render a decision that is based on the evidence and the law.”

No matter the outcome, Trump is determined to benefit from the proceedings, casting the case, and his indictments elsewhere, as a broad “weaponization of law enforcement” by Democratic prosecutors and officials. He maintains they are orchestrating sham charges in hopes of impeding his presidential run.

He’s lambasted judges and prosecutors for years, a pattern of attacks that continued Monday as he entered court Monday after calling the case an “assault on America.”

“This is political persecution. This is a persecution like never before,” he said.


Earlier Monday, the judge denied a defense request to recuse himself from the case after Trump’s lawyers claimed he had a conflict of interest. He also said prosecutors could not play for the jury the 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording in which Trump was captured discussing grabbing women sexually without their permission. However, prosecutors will be allowed to question witnesses about the recording, which became public in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign.


Prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office also asked for Merchan to fine Trump $3,000 over social media posts they said violated the judge’s gag order barring him from attacking witnesses. Last week, he used his Truth Social platform to call his former lawyer Michael Cohen and the adult film actor Stormy Daniels “two sleaze bags who have, with their lies and misrepresentations, cost our Country dearly!”


Trump lawyer Todd Blanche maintained Trump was simply responding to the witnesses’ statements.

“It’s not as if President Trump is going out and targeting individuals. He is responding to salacious, repeated vehement attacks by these witnesses,” Blanche said.

Merchan setting a hearing for next week on the request.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. Prosecutors say the alleged fraud was part of an effort to keep salacious — and, Trump says, bogus — stories about his sex life from emerging during his 2016 campaign.


The charges center on $130,000 in payments that Trump’s company made to Cohen. He paid that sum on Trump’s behalf to keep Daniels from going public, a month before the election, with her claims of a sexual encounter with the married mogul a decade earlier.


Prosecutors say the payments to Cohen were falsely logged as legal fees in order to cloak their actual purpose. Trump’s lawyers say the disbursements indeed were legal expenses, not a cover-up.

After decades of fielding and initiating lawsuits, the businessman-turned-politician now faces a trial that could result in up to four years in prison if he’s convicted, though a no-jail sentence also would be possible.

Trump’s attorneys lost a bid to get the hush-money case dismissed and have since repeatedly sought to delay it, prompting a flurry of last-minute appeals court hearings last week.

Among other things, Trump’s lawyers maintain that the jury pool in overwhelmingly Democratic Manhattan has been tainted by negative publicity about Trump and that the case should be moved elsewhere.


An appeals judge turned down an emergency request to delay the trial while the change-of-venue request goes to a group of appellate judges, who are set to consider it in the coming weeks.

Manhattan prosecutors have countered that a lot of the publicity stems from Trump’s own comments and that questioning will tease out whether prospective jurors can put aside any preconceptions they may have. There’s no reason, prosecutors said, to think that 12 fair and impartial people can’t be found amid Manhattan’s roughly 1.4 million adult residents.

The prospective jurors will be known only by number, as the judge has ordered that their names be kept secret from everyone except prosecutors, Trump and their legal teams. The 42 preapproved, sometimes multi-pronged queries include background basics but also reflect the uniqueness of the case.


They’re being asked, among other questions, about hobbies and news habits, whether they hold strong beliefs about Trump that would prevent them being impartial and about attendance at Trump or anti-Trump rallies.

Based on the answers, the attorneys can ask a judge to eliminate people “for cause” if they meet certain criteria for being unable to serve or can’t be unbiased. The lawyers also can use “peremptory challenges” to nix 10 potential jurors and two prospective alternates without giving a reason.
 

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First 7 jurors are chosen for Trump’s hush money criminal trial; 12 more still needed
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Michael R. Sisak, Jennifer Peltz, Jake Offenhartz And Alanna Durkin Richer
Published Apr 16, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 5 minute read

NEW YORK (AP) — The first seven jurors for Donald Trump’s hush money trial were seated Tuesday after lawyers grilled the jury pool about their social media posts, political views and personal lives to decide who can sit in fair judgment of the former president.


The panelists who were selected are an information technology worker, an English teacher, an oncology nurse, a sales professional, a software engineer and two lawyers.

Twelve more people still need to be picked before opening statements begin as early as next week in the Manhattan case accusing the Republican of falsifying business records to cover up a sex scandal during his 2016 campaign.

The trial, which began Monday, puts Trump’s legal problems at the center of his closely contested race against President Joe Biden. It’s the first of Trump’s four criminal cases to go to trial, and it may be the only one to reach a verdict before voters decide in November whether to elect the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.


On the second day of jury selection, New Yorkers were quizzed for hours about their views on Trump and other issues, and eight were excused after saying they could not be impartial or because they had other commitments. Trump’s lawyers challenged a handful of people over social media posts, and one person was dismissed over a 2017 post about Trump that said “Lock him up!”

Several would-be jurors told the judge they believed they could decide the case fairly, no matter their feelings about Trump or his policies as president.

Trump looked on in the courtroom as his lawyers urged the judge to remove one potential juror for a social media post she made after his 2020 election loss. The judge admonished Trump at one point after he spoke loudly and gestured while the judge questioned the woman about her post.


“I don’t know what he was uttering, but it was audible and he was gesturing. And he was speaking in the direction of the juror,” Judge Juan Merchan said. “I won’t tolerate that. I will not tolerate any jurors being intimidated in this courtroom.”

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass took Trump’s notoriety head-on, telling would-be jurors that attorneys were not looking for people who had been “living under a rock for the past eight years.” They just needed to keep an open mind.

“This case has nothing to do with your personal politics … it’s not a referendum on the Trump presidency or a popularity contest or who you’re going to vote for in November. We don’t care. This case is about whether this man broke the law,” he said.


Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records as part of an alleged effort to keep salacious _ and, he says, bogus — stories about his sex life from emerging during his 2016 campaign.

Before entering the courtroom, Trump stopped briefly to address a TV camera in the hallway, repeating his claim that the judge is biased against him and the case is politically motivated.

“This is a trial that should have never been brought,” Trump said. After he went inside, reporters saw him wink at one of the court officers and mouth, “How are you?” while he walked down the aisle. Trump then took his seat at the defense table with his attorneys.

With the trial expected to last for six weeks or more, multiple jury pool members brought up plans they have for Memorial Day and beyond. One parent was excused Monday because of a child’s wedding in late June. Another person was dismissed Tuesday because of a trip they have planned.


One man was excused after saying he feared his ability to be impartial could be compromised by “unconscious bias” from growing up in Texas and working in finance with people who “intellectually tend to slant Republican.”

“I’m not sure that I can say beyond a reasonable doubt that I can be fair,” another potential juror told the judge. “I can try. But I’m not 100% sure I can be fair.” She was also dismissed.

One woman who said she disagrees with Trump’s policies — and sometimes finds herself frustrated by him — pledged to be fair and impartial, telling defense lawyer Todd Blanche that she would give her “level-headed best” if she were picked for the jury.

“I didn’t sleep last night thinking about could I do that,” she said.


After another juror said she would be unable to serve impartially, Trump twisted in his chair, looking in the direction of the box. Through the first few minutes of the day, he appeared generally attentive, jotting down notes and raising sheets of paper to his face as jurors rattled off answers to a lengthy questionnaire.

Trump broke into a grin, nodding his head in an exaggerated manner, when another person said he had read two of the former president’s books, “The Art of the Deal” and “How to Get Rich.” The man, who said some of his wife’s family members are lobbyists for the Republican Party, said he didn’t think there was anything that would prevent him from looking at the case fairly.

“I feel that no one’s above the law,” he said.


The charges center on $130,000 in payments that Trump’s company made to his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen. He paid that sum on Trump’s behalf to keep porn actor Stormy Daniels from going public with her claims of a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier. Trump has denied the encounter ever happened.

Prosecutors say the payments to Cohen were falsely logged as legal fees. The prosecution has described the money as being part of a scheme to bury damaging stories Trump feared could help his opponent in the 2016 race, particularly as Trump’s reputation was suffering at the time from comments he made about women.

Trump has acknowledged reimbursing Cohen for the payment and that it was designed to stop Daniels from going public about the alleged encounter. But Trump has previously said it had nothing to do with the campaign.


In court papers filed Tuesday, prosecutors urged the judge to fine Trump $3,000 over social media posts they say violated a gag order limiting what he can say publicly about witnesses. In the posts, Trump called Cohen and Daniels “two sleaze bags who have, with their lies and misrepresentations, cost our Country dearly!”

Prosecutors wrote that the judge should admonish Trump to comply with the gag order and warn him that further violations could be punished not only with additional fines but also jail time.

If convicted of falsifying business records, Trump faces up to four years in prison, though there’s no guarantee he will get time behind bars.
 

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Voting technology company settles lawsuit against far-right news outlet over 2020 election claims
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Apr 16, 2024 • 2 minute read
The voting technology company targeted by bogus fraud claims related to the 2020 presidential election settled a defamation lawsuit Tuesday, April 16, 2024, against a conservative news outlet.
The voting technology company targeted by bogus fraud claims related to the 2020 presidential election settled a defamation lawsuit Tuesday, April 16, 2024, against a conservative news outlet.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A voting technology company targeted by bogus fraud claims related to the 2020 presidential election settled a defamation lawsuit Tuesday against a conservative news outlet.


The settlement between Florida-based Smartmatic and One America News Network is the latest development in a larger legal pushback by voting equipment companies that became ensnared in wild conspiracy theories falsely claiming they had flipped votes and cost former President Donald Trump reelection.


In a statement, the company said it had “resolved its litigation with OANN through a confidential settlement.” The dismissal of its lawsuit was filed in federal court in the District of Columbia. Chip Babcock, a Houston-based attorney representing the news outlet, confirmed the case had been resolved but said he was unable to disclose any of the settlement terms.

Smartmatic was an odd target for the conspiracy theorists because use of its voting technology and software was so limited. It was used only in Los Angeles County, a Democratic stronghold in a state that was not a presidential battleground and where Trump did not contest his loss.


But the company has for years also provided voting services in Venezuela, and that created a springboard for phony claims that a foreign company was involved in a vast conspiracy to flip the election from Trump to Democrat Joe Biden. Smartmatic also has active lawsuits against Fox News and the conservative outlet Newsmax over similar complaints. Fox has said it had a First Amendment right to air claims about an election that were being promoted by prominent figures.

Last year, on the eve of a trial, Fox News agreed to pay $787 million to settle a defamation lawsuit filed by a much larger voting technology company, Dominion Voting Systems, which claimed the network and its hosts spread false claims that its equipment helped rig the election against Trump. Dominion has other defamation lawsuits that remain active, including one against One America News Network.

The conspiracy theories relating to voting equipment and software are among the lies about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election won by Biden. Numerous reviews, audits and recounts in the presidential swing states where Trump contested his loss have affirmed Biden’s victory, and there has been no evidence of widespread fraud. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is facing federal and state charges related to his attempts to overturn the results.