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Trump’s hush money trial to begin Monday as he officially becomes first former US president to go on criminal trial

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Donald Trump will become the first US ex-president to go on criminal trial on Monday less than seven months before presidential elections that could return him to the seat of US leadership.

Trump is accused of falsifying business records in a scheme to cover up an alleged sexual encounter with porn star Stormy Daniels so as not to destroy his 2016 election.

The so-called hush money affair is only one of the four criminal cases that Trump faces.

Trump is accused of illegally covering up remittances to his longtime attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, who was using the funds to pay Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about the alleged sexual encounter in the final weeks of the 2016 election campaign.

A New York grand jury indicted Trump in March 2023 over the payments made to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, with the ex-president charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records.

He denies the charges and could use the trial, scheduled for up to two months, as a prominent platform to decry what he alleges is “lawfare” and election interference by his political opponents. Trump also claims that he will not get a fair trial in heavily Democratic New York.

The trial will start with what could be a lengthy and contentious process to select 12 jurors.

Judge Juan Merchan will convene a pool of more than 100 ordinary citizens who must answer a questionnaire including checks on whether they have been members of far-right groups, like the Proud Boys, which led a mob of Trump supporters in the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol to stop certification of Biden’s election.

Even if convicted, he would be able to appeal and would not be barred from continuing to run or even being elected president on November 5.

Trump’s other three criminal cases centred on his alleged hoarding of top-secret documents in Florida after he left the White House and his involvement in attempts to overturn the 2020 election all faced multiple delays.

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