In a US history first, Trump set to stand trial in one of four criminal cases

It was a claim Trump feared would cost him votes in the 2016 presidential election - that he and porn actor Stormy Daniels had embarked on an affair.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Donald Trump’s first criminal trial

Former US President Donald Trump will stand trial on Monday in the first of four criminal cases he is facing.

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.

It was a claim he feared would cost him votes in the 2016 presidential election – that he and porn actor Stormy Daniels had embarked on an affair, and he paid her a hush money sum to stay quiet, prosecutors allege.

Now, after years of fits and starts before an indictment last year, Trump is set to stand trial 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 US 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.

Other indictments of his involve government secrets and threats to democracy.

Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen. / Credit: AP

Yet this 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 (£104,000) 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.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in