Former President Trump’s “Hush Money” Criminal Trial Commences Amid Tough Legal Battle

Donald Trump is making history as the first former president to face criminal charges. He is currently facing multiple charges across four different criminal cases, the first of which began earlier this week. Alongside these criminal cases, Trump has also taken part in three civil cases, including the highly publicized E. Jean Carroll Defamation Case.

The first of Trump’s criminal trials began on Monday, April 21, after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records, to which he has pleaded not guilty. This case is deeply rooted in Trump’s 2016 election campaign. Often referred to as the “Hush Money” Trial, the case revolves around payments made to stop sensitive information about Trump from reaching the public. The legal issue lies in the disguise of payments as legal expenses in order to cover up another crime, which, if proven, qualifies as a felony. 

These charges were first brought on Donald Trump in April of 2023, and after trial delays, opening statements were made on Monday, April 21. Also on Monday, the prosecution’s first witness, David Pecker, was brought to the stand. Pecker is the former CEO of American Media Inc., which published the National Enquirer during the 2016 election. In his testimony, Pecker admitted to supporting Trump’s campaign by publishing negative articles about his opponents and preventing certain stories of Trump from being published. Pecker is a key witness to the Prosecution’s case as they are arguing that Pecker used a “catch and kill” tactic to silence a witness who claimed Trump had an illegitimate child. This “catch and kill” plot allegedly occurred between Pecker, Trump, and Trump’s then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, in 2015, when Pecker purchased the witness’s story and prevented it from being published. Two other key pieces to the prosecution’s case are payments made to two women, Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, supposedly to cover up affairs Trump had with them. These payments were made through Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, and disguised as legal expenses. 

Meanwhile, Trump’s defense argues that he and his organization didn’t violate any laws and that Trump’s campaign strategy of concealing damaging information is a common one used across political campaigns. The trial is expected to last around six weeks, and if Trump is found guilty, he will not be barred from holding office.

The other three criminal cases in which Trump is involved are currently in the pretrial stage and will likely begin after the November election.