Donald Trump's first criminal trial scheduled for next month in New York

Former President Donald Trump's trial on charges of falsifying business records to hide secret payments to three individuals before the 2016 U.S. presidential election will proceed as scheduled, according to a ruling by Judge Juan Manuel Merchan on Thursday. The trial will begin with jury selection on March 25.

Trump pleaded not guilty last April to 34 counts of falsifying business records related to alleged efforts to bury stories about extramarital affairs. Payments were made to two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, as well as a Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have information about Trump having a child out of wedlock. Trump denies having any of the alleged sexual encounters with the women.

Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, paid Daniels $130,000 and arranged for the publisher of the National Enquirer to pay McDougal $150,000 in a practice known as "catch-and-kill." Prosecutors said Trump's company then paid Cohen $420,000 and recorded the payments as legal expenses.

In an interview with ABC television, Cohen stated that Trump knew about and directed the hush payments made to the two women during the 2016 campaign. Trump's legal team argues that no crime was committed in the case brought by Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg.

The trial is expected to last up to six weeks, but there is no guarantee that a conviction would result in prison time. It will coincide with the Super Tuesday primary elections on March 5, which could potentially impact Trump's political campaign. His lawyers have objected to the trial date, citing interference with his campaigning.

This trial marks the first time a former president has faced a criminal proceeding. Trump is also facing three other criminal trials on various charges, although the dates for those trials have not been set. These include allegations of conspiring to defraud the U.S. by preventing Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's election victory, unlawfully retaining government documents after leaving office, and attempting to reverse his election defeat in Georgia.

Trump is also awaiting a decision in a New York civil fraud case that could have significant financial implications for his real estate empire. If the judge rules against him, he could face monetary penalties and other sanctions.


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