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Trump Hush Money Criminal Trial Begins

It’s time for opening statements in the first "Get Trump" criminal case to go to trial.

Donald Trump’s immunity claims against the Biden DOJ prosecution of him in federal court will be heard at the United States Supreme Court on Thursday, April 24. It may only be our former president’s second most important courtroom argument this week. On Monday, April 22, the presentation of opening arguments and evidence begins in the so-called hush money criminal trial. District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s hand-picked team starts working today to convince a dozen Manhattan residents to convict the former president of 34 felonies related to payments he made to Stormy Daniels.

Nothing to See or Hear

The trial is expected to last six weeks, with no sessions on Wednesdays. It will not be televised – audio and video recording of the trial is prohibited. Mr. Trump has said he will testify. He is expected to attend all the court sessions, but may be excused by request to the judge, Juan Merchan. If you hear reports calling Merchan “Justice,” it’s because of a peculiar naming convention followed only in New York, where trial court judges are titled Justices, and the trial court is called the Supreme Court. By Friday, April 19, all twelve jurors and six alternates were selected.

DA Bragg has not and will not be handling courtroom matters personally, and no single attorney is acting as lead counsel for the prosecution. Instead, Bragg has assigned at least a half-dozen accomplished prosecutors to ensure he gets a win in the case – one which may be more critical to his political survival than to defendant Trump’s. Alas, none of the more than 500 prosecutors in Bragg’s office could handle the Trump case. The small army is well-suited to try multiple homicides and ultra-sophisticated financial crimes, but for hush money paid to a stripper, he had to get a ringer, and he did.

Trump’s Persecutor Prosecutor

Matthew Colangelo will likely deliver the prosecution’s opening statement to the jury. He’s a formidable prosecutor and one who perfectly represents what this case is about. While Trump’s Democrat prosecutors insist their cases are simply about applying the facts to the law, a closer look at Mr. Colangelo’s career reveals a political animal who has made it his life’s mission to get Trump.

Among many important past positions, Colangelo was Deputy Assistant to President Obama and rejoined the federal government on Biden’s inauguration day as Acting Associate Attorney General. He left that prestigious post to join Bragg’s “non-political” prosecution of Donald Trump. Mr. Colangelo spent his time between federal service in the Obama and Biden administrations working for New York Attorney General Letitia James on her team to get Trump. Assistant District Attorneys in New York City, handling the lowest level non-violent felonies, are not, typically, first-rate Harvard lawyers on a first-name basis with presidents.

Mr. Trump’s lead counsel is Todd Blanche, who represented Paul Manafort and others in Trump’s orbit. Blanche is a former federal prosecutor who started his firm to facilitate the representation of Trump in civil actions. He will be defending Trump from charges that the $130,000 payment made to Stormy Daniels was a federal election interference crime and that how it was reimbursed and accounted for constituted business and tax fraud.

On Tuesday, April 23, and outside the jury’s presence, the trial judge, Juan Merchan, will convene a hearing on a prosecution motion to hold Donald Trump in contempt of court. Bragg’s office asked for sanctions against Trump for violating the gag order the judge imposed against him – $3,000 for violating the gag order three times. Mr. Trump referenced the issue in a social media post on Sunday, April 21, writing: “REMOVE THE GAG ORDER!!! WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO HIDE???”

Read More From Scott D. Cosenza, Esq.

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