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Jury selection starts Trump trial prosecutors accuse former president violating judge's gag order Blaze Media

Trump's trial for falsifying business records began in New York. Prosecutors claim he tried to cover up hush money payments.

The trial of former President Donald Trump for allegedly falsifying business records commenced on Monday in New York. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg brought forth 34 charges against Trump, accusing him of attempting to conceal "hush money" payments made to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. Trump has entered a plea of not guilty to all charges.

Jury selection for the criminal case began this week, with attorneys aiming to select a panel of 12 jurors and six alternates. Prospective jurors are required to answer over 40 questions to identify any potential biases for or against Trump.

During the court proceedings on Monday, Acting Justice Juan Merchan stated that he typically allows attorneys 15 minutes for the first round of questioning and 10 minutes for the second. However, due to the unique nature of the case, lawyers were given the opportunity to request their preferred time limits for each round. Trump's attorney, Todd Blanche, requested 30 and 20 minutes, respectively, which was agreed upon by the district attorney's office and Merchan.

Blanche emphasized Trump's desire to be present at every conference and side proceeding during jury selection. Merchan had previously issued a gag order against Trump, preventing him from making any public comments about individuals involved in the case, including their family members.

Despite multiple attempts by Trump's legal team to have Merchan recused from the case, their requests have been denied. The latest request for recusal was based on the argument that Merchan's daughter has a financial interest in the proceedings due to her ownership stake in a progressive political consulting firm.

Prosecutors sought to sanction Trump on Monday for allegedly violating the gag order with his posts on Truth Social. The prosecution claimed that Trump's statements about potential witnesses, including Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen, breached the order. Blanche defended Trump's posts as responses to attacks by the witnesses.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass raised concerns that the witnesses had faced backlash from Trump supporters for agreeing to testify against him. The judge has yet to rule on the matter.

Merchan denied the prosecution's request to play the 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape in court but allowed statements made by Trump on the recording to be presented as evidence. The judge also prohibited the introduction of evidence related to sexual assault allegations, deeming them as rumors and hearsay.

Testimony from Karen McDougal, who alleges an affair with Trump in 2006, and Cohen's testimony against the former president will be presented to the jurors during the trial. Trump has denied McDougal's claims.

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