Day 1 of Trump New York hush money trial

Former President Donald Trump appears with his legal team Todd Blanch and Emil Bove before the start of his trial in Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday, April 15. Jabin Botsford/Pool/Getty Images

The opening day of the first criminal trial of former President Donald Trump hit home the reality that the presumptive Republican nominee for president will be sitting in a Manhattan courtroom as a defendant four days a week.

Here are the key takeaways from day one of “The People of the State of New York vs Donald Trump.”

The difficulty in picking a jury: Merchan brought in 96 New Yorkers as prospective jurors. More than half were quickly dismissed because they said they did not think they could be fair and impartial. Among the other nine potential jurors who were questioned, none said they had read any books written by either Trump or Michael Cohen. And none had said they’d worked or volunteered for Trump.

Defense wants to slow things down: Sources told CNN that there will likely be many objections and sidebars during the trial because the defense is completely focused on preserving every issue for appeal. These tactics fit the larger Trump legal strategy, which included months of appeals to delay the start of the trial, which was successful on separate grounds. The defense now hopes legal proceedings, which are expected to last six to eight weeks, move at a slow pace with the 2024 election just months away.

Members of the media gather outside of Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday morning. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Trump accused of violating gag order: Prosecutors asked Judge Juan Merchan to sanction Trump and fine him for violating the gag order prohibiting him from talking about witnesses in the case, the DA’s office or court staff. Merchan scheduled a hearing on the district attorney’s motion for next Tuesday.

“Access Hollywood” tape can’t be played, but actress can testify: Merchan sided with prosecutors in allowing Karen McDougal, an actress and model who alleged she also had an affair with Trump, to testify. Prosecutors can also introduce National Enquirer stories slamming Trump’s opponents as evidence. Trump has denied the affair. A key victory for Trump, meanwhile, was Merchan’s ruling that the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape can’t be played in court, saying it was prejudicial. Prosecutors also will not be allowed to bring up other sexual assault allegations against Trump that surfaced after the “Access Hollywood tape” was made public in October 2016.


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