Morning Report — Trump plays 2024 offense in courtroom defense

Former President Donald Trump leaves Manhattan criminal court, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, in New York. A New York judge says Trump’s hush-money trial will go ahead as scheduled with jury selection starting on March 25. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Published February 16, 2024

Former President Trump will be in a courtroom drama beginning March 25 in a New York trial just weeks after he hopes to lock up the GOP presidential nomination.

It may not be the only courtroom in which Trump appears as a defendant as voters weigh White House candidates and try to follow his legal proceedings. Trump, while asserting his innocence against 91 criminal indictments in four jurisdictions, insisted Thursday outside of court that he’s the victim of partisan politics.

“What it is, is election interference. It’s being run by Joe Biden’s White House. His top person was placed here in order to make sure everything goes right,” Trump told reporterswithout evidence.

His legal jeopardy — interwoven with the power he wields as the de facto leader of the Republican Party and social-media-fueled influencer on Capitol Hill — is unprecedented. Polls indicate that Trump’s supporters are largely unmoved by assertions that the former president flouted the Constitution, laws and his oath of office. But a majority of Americans say they would not vote for him if he’s convicted or imprisoned by the time of November’s race. That includes more than half of Republican voters, according to a recent poll.



RELATED: Trump’s self-defense, annotated

Former President Donald Trump gestures on the day of a court hearing in New York on February 15, 2024.
Published February 15, 2024

The coming months are going to provide former President Donald Trump with the reality of campaigning from outside a courtroom.

He has, heretofore, chosen to attend various court dates. When his criminal trial in Manhattan gets under way in late March, he could conceivably have locked up the GOP nomination but will have to attend the anticipated six-week trial or ask the judge to be excused.

We got a preview of this unprecedented criminal trial mixed with a presidential campaign on Thursday at a key hearing in the New York criminal case. This time, Trump had a choice – he might also have attended a hearing in Georgia, where District Attorney Fani Willis, who is overseeing his election interference case in the state, faces allegations of misconduct related to her relationship with a prosecutor she appointed to oversee the case, a soap opera on the side of the Trump trials.



RELATED: Trump to stand trial on 25 March in New York criminal hush money case

The judge says Donald Trump’s trial in New York will last up to six weeks. Photo: AFP
Published February 16, 2024

Donald Trump will become the first former US president to stand trial on criminal charges after a New York judge on Thursday denied his request to dismiss an indictment stemming from hush money paid to a porn star and set a March 25 trial date.

Justice Juan Merchan’s ruling during a testy hearing in Manhattan means that Trump will stand trial in at least one of the four criminal cases he faces as he pursues the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the 5 November US election.

Trump, 77, had asked Merchan to toss the 34-count felony indictment, which charges him with falsifying business records to cover up the $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. Merchan took less than 10 minutes to deny his request and confirm the trial date.

Merchan said the trial could last five or six weeks, ending in late April or early May. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat.

A guilty verdict against a former president, like the trial itself, would be unprecedented in US history. Though it would not legally prevent him from running for president, Reuters/Ipsos polling has found that a conviction could erode his support among voters.

Trump attended the hearing, sitting next to his lawyers at the defence table and occasionally conferring with them.




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Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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