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Trump’s hush-money trial begins with haggling over evidence



    1. Prosecutors want Trump to be fined $3,000 over gag order

      Let’s take a look at one of the courtroom skirmishes that happened just before lunch.

      Prosecutors called for Trump to be fined $3,000 (£2,400) for allegedly violating the gag order imposed on him three times.

      Justice Merchan imposed the order barring Trump from making public comments about those related to the case, including potential witnesses and the judge’s family.

      Defence attorney Todd Blanche argued the three social media posts prosecutors pointed to did not violate the gag order.

      “He is responding to salacious, repeated, vehement attacks by these witnesses,” Blanche said.

      Justice Merchan did not immediately issue a ruling, so we will find out his thoughts on the matter after the lunch break.

      Judge warns Trump about conduct

      Just before the lunch break, Justice Merchan turned to speak to Trump directly.

      He read him a standard warning about his conduct.

      He had already issued the warning earlier in the trial, but repeated it.

      “You have the right to be present during the trial,” he told Trump.

      “It is an important right” as it permits you to assist in your defence, he said.

      “You can, however, by your conduct lose that right to be present,” Merchan continues.

      He warned Trump that if he disrupts the proceedings in any way, the law permits the court to exclude him from courtroom and continue the trial in his absence.

      He asked if Trump understands.

      Trump nodded, slowly and wordlessly.

  1. Court breaks for lunch

    Court has paused for a lunch break and will be back at 13.45 local time (18.45 GMT).

    As Trump walked out of the room he flashed a quick thumbs up to cameras.

    And while the courtroom is breaking, we’re not going anywhere. Stick with us as we bring you more updates and analysis from the trial of Donald Trump.

  2. While lawyers argue, 500 potential jurors are waiting

    We’re still deep into haggling over evidence, and have not yet called in potential jurors.

    There are 500 potential jurors waiting for the selection process to start.

    Justice Merchan is clearly getting a little impatient with these hours of arguing over details of evidence.

    “Please both of you, sit down and relax,” he tells prosecutor Joshua Steinglass and Trump attorney Todd Blanche, telling them to move on.

    He notes there are “about 500 jurors awaiting us and to be honest with you, I’m not really interested in getting into this minutiae,” he said.

    There are “more important” things awaiting the court, he said, and starts moving towards jury selection.

    Justice Merchan next goes on to discuss ground rules over the trial, including how the lawyers and prosecutors can interact with witnesses.

  3. Trump is watching a small screen on a desk, here’s what it shows

    Former U.S. President Donald Trump sits with his attorneys as Judge Juan Merchan oversees the proceedings at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, April 15, 2024 in this courtroom sketch. Christine Cornell/Pool via REUTERS

    Donald Trump is watching along on the computer screen at the defence table.

    It is showing some of the evidence presented by the district attorney’s team, which includes:

    • A clip from Trump’s video deposition during the E Jean Carroll defamation trial, in which he defends comments he made about celebrities’ ability to “grab” women by the genitals
    • video from a rally during his 2016 presidential campaign, which prosecutors say illustrate his concern over what he calls false allegations
    • Tweets by Trump, which were shown in large type, that prosecutors say were written by Trump to pressure his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen not to co-operate with investigators
  4. Michael Cohen seems to be a sticking point for team Trump

    Reporting from court

    We’re still deep into haggling over evidence, and have not yet called in potential jurors.

    At the moment, Trump’s lawyers are concerned about how the prosecution can talk about Michael Cohen’s guilty plea to campaign finance violations in 2018.

    Justice Merchan has already decided that prosecutors can only talk about it in a very limited way; they aren’t allowed to imply or suggest that because Cohen pleaded guilty to these violations, that Trump is guilty as well.

    Trump has not been charged with that crime.

    An animated Todd Blanche presses the judge for more clarity about how the prosecution can bring this up, but Justice Merchan said he’s already outlined the parameters in a pre-trial ruling.

    Justice Merchan notes that his decisions are a “roadmap” and that he is prepared to revisit them as the trial proceeds.

    The judge appears to be tiring of the haggling and is trying to push on.

  5. We’re getting a preview of how this trial will play out

    It’s more of the same in the courtroom, with legal teams still arguing about various evidence they either want, or strongly oppose being shown.

    The latest mini-battle is over tweets Trump shared that attacked his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

    Justice Merchan has ruled the tweets can be admitted, so long as the defence intends to open the door by discrediting Cohen.

    The judge says he imagines that they will do exactly that, and try to discredit Trump’s ex-fixer – who is at the heart of the fraud allegations.

    The back-and-forth also gives us a glimpse into how this trial could play out for the next six to eight weeks.

    Courtroom sketches of Trump trial released

    Trump in court

    We’ve just received a sketch of Trump and the judge overseeing his case, which was drawn by an artist in the courtroom.

    Sketch artists are a common feature of high-profile criminal trials, particularly when access to camera operators are limited by court rules.

    Last year, the BBC’s Sam Cabral spoke to three court artists about their different versions of the former president.

    You can read his in-depth coverage here.


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