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Highlights from Day 1 of Trump’s hush money trial during jury selection

The proceedings mark the first time a former American president has faced trial on criminal charges, which stem from a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with Trump, who denies any relationship.

What to know about Trump's hush money trial

  • The trial began today with jury selection, which could take up to two weeks because of the large pool of prospective jurors.
  • The charges from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg stem from a $130,000 payment Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen made to adult film actor Stormy Daniels at the end of the 2016 election cycle to keep her from going public with an allegation that she and Trump had had an affair. Trump then repaid Cohen in installments marked as legal fees in company records.
  • The proceedings mark the first time a former president has faced a criminal trial; Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records. He has denied the affair and pleaded not guilty to the charges, which he says are politically motivated.
  • Trump is required to be present for the trial, which will take place four days a week and could last eight weeks.
  • Judge Juan Merchan began the day's proceedings by reviewing pending motions. He ruled against a request that he recuse himself from the trial.

Follow live updates on the Trump hush money trial.

Listen to a summary of today's events on WhatsApp

Trump criticizes trial outside courtroom

Ginger GibsonSenior Washington Editor

Trump walked out of the courtroom and addressed a camera in the hallway, saying that the judge's refusal to allow him to attend Supreme Court arguments next week is proof of his unfairness.

"Looks like the judge is not going to allow me to escape this scam," Trump said.

Moments before, the judge denied a request for the trial to be paused so Trump could attend Supreme Court arguments about whether he has presidential immunity in a separate criminal case in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Trump is required to be at the New York case. But there is no requirement that parties attend Supreme Court arguments, which Merchan pointed out.

Trump also said that the judge won't allow him to take a day off to attend his son Barron's high school graduation. The judge during today's proceedings said that he wasn't going to rule on that request yet.

Trump attorney asks judge to allow Trump to attend SCOTUS oral arguments later this month

Trump attorney Todd Blanche is asking Merchan to allow the former president to attend oral arguments scheduled for April 25 related to his presidential immunity argument before the Supreme Court in the election interference case. It is the first time Blanche has made that request.

Court adjourned

Adam Reiss

Adam Reiss and Gary Grumbach

Court adjourned at 4:40 p.m. ET

Judge wrapping up for the day

Adam Reiss

Adam Reiss and Gary Grumbach

The judge is wrapping up for the day after about 10 potential jurors were able to read their survey responses — underscoring just how long the selection process may take. The first half of the day was spent handling motion arguments.

Prospective juror was law clerk for former judge

A prospective juror facing questioning was once a law clerk to former Chief Judge Janet DiFiore of the New York Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court.

DiFiore was nominated to the role of chief judge by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and confirmed by the state Senate in 2016. She resigned in 2022 amid a dispute with the then-head of the New York State Court Officers Association. Prior to her work as chief judge, DiFiore served as Westchester County district attorney.

Potential juror admits to not knowing what his girlfriend does

One anonymous potential juror — who works as an assistant district attorney in the Bronx — was asked what his girlfriend does for a living.

She works in finance, he said, but he also admitted to not knowing exactly what she does. Maybe he should be happy the jury is anonymous.

Potential juror says 'nobody's above the law'

One potential juror — a man who works as a bookseller — said he could be fair. But didn't think Trump was above the law.

“I feel that nobody is above the law, whether it be a former president, or a sitting president," he said.

Trump heads back to courtroom

Trump is headed back into the courtroom after the short recess.

Court takes a short recess

Adam Reiss

The jury selection process has paused for a brief recess.

Potential juror excused for saying she has strong opinions about Trump

Merchan dismissed a prospective juror this afternoon after she responded "Yes" to a question on the jury selection questionnaire about whether she had opinions about Trump.

Potential jurors are now reading their survey responses

Adam Reiss

Each potential juror had to fill out a 42-question survey. The first 18 are now reading through their answers.

Prospective jurors stretch their necks to look at Trump

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Potential jurors who entered the courtroom with the first group were stretching their necks from the rows to get a look at Trump.

One woman sitting toward the back giggled and put her hand over her mouth, and then looked at another potential juror seated next to her with raised eyebrows.

More than half of the 96 potential jurors in first group have been excused

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

More than half of the 96 potential jurors who were initially in the courtroom have been excused after Merchan asked them if they feel cannot be impartial and fair or cannot serve for some other reason.

Of those who were excused, more than two dozen were white women, according to a pool report from inside the courtroom.

Merchan reads a list of names of people who could play a role

The judge told the potential jurors that a number of figures could figure into the case in determining if any of them know them.

The names he read included: Rudy Giuliani, Sharon Churcher, Dan Scavino, Keith Schiller, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Melania Trump, John McEntee, Kellyanne Conway, and Jared Kushner

Trump's eyes are closed

Trump's eyes are closed in the courtroom. He might be thinking or sleeping, but his eyes are shut tight.

Judge Merchan is instructing potential jurors about the process

Adam Reiss

Gary Grumbach and Adam Reiss

The potential jurors have been brought into the courtroom and Merchan has now begun the process of informing them what will happen next.

The judge sent both sides a letter last week explaining what he would tell them during this process — including reading the charges and the names of the individuals who are involved in the case.

Merchan says hearing on gag order is now Tuesday


Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss

The judge said the hearing that he originally said would happen next Wednesday afternoon will now be held next Tuesday, April 23, at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Jury screening complete

Adam Reiss

The security screening of the jurors is complete and the selection process is continuing.

Jurors are being screened now before entering courtroom


Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss

The jurors will be going through the same security process as all the reporters when entering the courtroom, which means two sets of magnetometers.

Merchan is off the bench as they wait for 96 potential jurors to enter.

Trump more involved with defense team since return from lunch

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad

Trump has been quite active talking with his defense in the short time since the trial process resumed after lunch.

The former president has been chatting with his lawyers Todd Blanche and Emil Bove.

Merchan gives Trump's lawyers 24 hours to enter final exhibits into evidence

Todd Blanche, Trump's lawyer, said the defense team doesn't have certain exhibits for the trial because they "just got" a raft of documents from the U.S. Attorney's Office a month ago.

Joshua Steinglass, one of the DA's prosecutors, countered that Trump's lawyers have buried the court in thousands of pages of frivolous motions.

"You have 24 hours," Merchan told Trump's defense. "Whatever you don’t identify in the next 24 hours, you will be precluded from using."

Merchan says names of potential jurors may not be copied or photographed

Trump's lawyer Todd Blanche asked when counsel will get the names of prospective jurors and how.

Merchan said that he would be handing the defense team and prosecution one copy of juror names and one copy of juror numbers.

The judge made clear that the list with the names cannot be copied or photographed and must be returned to the court.

Prosecutors discuss possibility of a Sandoval hearing

Steinglass said Bragg’s office now wants to conduct a Sandoval hearing, which is designed to allow defendants to make an informed decision on whether to testify by providing a pre-trial determination of the permissible scope of cross-examination. Before a jury is seated, it is customary to determine whether there are potential Sandoval issues.

Merchan said he's ready to begin jury selection, so he will delay the discussions of Sandoval.

Merchan says he will hold a hearing next week on potential gag order violations

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabad and Adam Reiss

Merchan announced that instead of ruling on punishing Trump over a potential gag order violation today, he will hear arguments on the matter April 21 at 2:15 p.m. ET.

Trump is back in the courtroom

Trump has returned to the courtroom following a lunch break.

Trump moves to push back filing deadlines in Florida criminal case citing New York trial

Daniel Barnesis reporting from the federal courthouse.

Trump filed a motion over the weekend seeking extensions for two filing deadlines in the Florida classified documents case on the basis that he and his attorneys will be too busy with the New York trial over the next six weeks. 

Trump is asking Judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing the Florida case, to push back the current May 9 deadline for his disclosure of expert witnesses and a submission to the Justice Department on what classified information he intends to use during the trial until three weeks after the end of his New York trial.

Keeping the existing deadline would “deny President Trump his constitutional right to participate in critical aspects of his defense, and infringe on his constitutional right to counsel of his choice in this case,” lawyers Todd Blanche and Chris Kise wrote in the motion submitted Saturday. 

Due to the classified nature of the materials in this case, much of the work to prepare those filings must be done inside a secure room in Florida, Blanche and Kise wrote. With Trump’s hush money trial happening in New York, he would be unable to travel to Florida to participate in that preparation, they said.

Blanche and another Trump lawyer, Emil Bove, are also representing him in the New York trial and would also be unable to travel to Florida, they said. And Kise can’t pick up the slack because he will be unavailable due to a planned medical procedure, they said.

“President Trump made these decisions about the composition of his defense team in both cases at a time when there were no scheduling conflicts,” Blanche and Kise wrote. “Neither President Trump nor his counsel can be in both places at once.” 

The special counsel’s office responded yesterday, urging Cannon to reject Trump’s request. 

“Although the defendants’ motion reads as though the Court were unaware of Trump’s other case, and as if the defendants had no forewarning that a Section 5 deadline would be set, those premises are plainly wrong,” counselor to the special counsel Jay Bratt wrote. “The defendants have had ample notice that these deadlines would be scheduled and have already had months to complete the work." 

“Each time the Court sets a new deadline in this case and attempts to keep it moving toward trial, the defendants reflexively ask for an adjournment,” Bratt concluded. “That must stop.”

The Florida case is still technically scheduled to go to trial May 20. That date is expected to be pushed back.

Trial breaks for lunch

The trial is on a lunch break until 1:30 p.m.

DA's office wants judge to sanction Trump $1,000 for each of three social media posts


Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Prosecutors said they want Merchan to punish Trump for violating the judge's gag order by sharing certain social media posts over the weekend.

They said they want the judge to sanction Trump for each of three posts, to tell Trump to take down the posts, and to warn him that another post could result in jail time.

Trump lawyer says his client intends to be present at trial but there may be an occasion when he is absent

Blanche said Trump intends to be present at the trial, but there may be an occasion that would warrant his absence. But it is Trump's intent to be present at every conference during jury selection, Blanche said.

Merchan said they will try to fit every potential juror in the jury room, but with the Secret Service accompanying Trump everywhere, it may not be possible to do so.

Judge warns Trump he could face jail for missing court

Merchan is talking about Trump's right to be present in court — known as Parker admonitions.

Merchan is talking directly to the former president for the first time all day, issuing a stark warning that if he fails to show up for trial without a reason a warrant will be issued for his arrest.

The N.Y. courts provide a script for these which is below:

You have the right to be present in court at any proceeding including, in particular, a hearing and trial. Do you understand?

However, by your conduct, you can waive, give up, forfeit, or lose that right to be present.

Add if defendant is in jail:

If you deliberately refuse to come to court when required, or in any way deliberately obstruct or interfere with the effort to bring you to court, then, any proceeding in your case, including hearing, trial and, if you are convicted, sentence, can and will continue in your absence. Do you understand?

Add if defendant is at liberty:

If you deliberately fail to appear in court when required, then any proceeding in your case, including hearing, trial and, if you are convicted, sentence, can and will continue in your absence. A warrant for your arrest will be issued and you will be subject to separate prosecution and separate punishment for bail jumping no matter what happens in this case. Do you understand?

Merchan outlines the voir dire process for questioning jury pool

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabad and Adam Reiss

The judge is going over the instructions for questioning potential jurors, known as voir dire.

He said that he will allow 30 minutes for the first round of questioning and 20 minutes for any subsequent rounds.

Legal teams argue what jury should be told about Cohen pleading guilty

Steinglass said prosecutors don’t intend to introduce Cohen’s guilty plea as evidence of Trump’s guilt, despite that Cohen’s prosecution and guilty plea were something Merchan previously ruled fair game. The prosecutors seek to ensure they understand the judge's boundaries because the plea is speaks to Cohen’s credibility, and eliciting responses on the issue on direct examination is important to show the government’s transparency.

Cohen’s plea also explains why his public statements shifted, Steinglass said.

“This can’t wait until cross-examination,” he pleaded. Trump’s attack tweets on Cohen came right after the plea, so the fact and timing of the plea matters, he argued.

Steinglass goes on to compare Cohen to a co-defendant-turned-cooperator in a robbery, saying that his own guilt is a necessary part of his testimony.

Trump lawyer Blanche said the defense doesn't intend to cross-examine Cohen about campaign finance, but it does intend to cross-examine him about other crimes to which he pled guilty and now disavows. But Merchan said if Cohen pleaded guilty to all of those crimes simultaneously, “I don’t see how you can pick and choose.”

Merchan also raised the point that if the prosecution is not allowed to elicit Cohen’s plea to campaign finance violations, but Cohen is cross-examined about other crimes to which he pleaded guilty, it could leave the jury with the misimpression that Cohen only pleaded guilty to or was convicted of certain crimes, but not others.

Judge seems to tire of 'minutia' while potential jurors wait

Merchan says there are jurors waiting to start.

“We have about 500 jurors waiting on us. And to be honest with you I really am not interested in getting into this minutia,” he said.

Court has resumed with more motions being discussed

Adam Reiss

The judge is back on the bench and hearing more motion arguments.

Trump back in courtroom

After a brief break, Trump is back in the courtroom.

Former President Donald Trump returns to the courtroom after a break at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on April 15, 2024.
Trump returns to the courtroom after a break.Michael Nagle / AFP - Getty Images

Prosecution asks Trump's team to argue why Trump shouldn't be held in contempt

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass asked Trump's attorneys to argue why the former president shouldn't be held in contempt for allegedly violating the judge's gag order.

Steinglass argued that Trump's efforts have continued to this day, including spreading falsehoods and attacking Michael Cohen. He said the witnesses in the case “have incurred the wrath of Trump supporters,” adding that Trump "skillfully, obsessively” puts out posts attacking his opponents both in the political sphere and in court.

Court takes a break

Adam Reiss

The court has taken a brief break.

Trump shows little visible reaction during discussion of past accusations

Already this morning we’ve heard about the alleged scheme to “catch and kill” bad stories about Trump, the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape, the many allegations of sexual assault from various women that came out during the campaign — all while Trump sits at counsel table with little visible reaction. He’s leaning in at times to look at the evidence and videos being played, and whispering to his attorneys frequently, but often showing little outward emotion.

Merchan reiterates prosecution cannot play 'Access Hollywood' tape during trial

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad

The judge said that his previous ruling that the prosecution can't play the "Access Hollywood" tape featuring Trump during the trial stands.

"The tape itself should not come in," he said.

Tensions already rising between lawyers

We are getting a preview of the state’s opening statements this morning as the lawyers continue to fight over what evidence can come in at trial. 

The prosecution says it wants to introduce the "Access Hollywood" tape in part because of its timing, and the arguments are already impassioned. 

The theory is the Trump campaign went into “damage control” after it was released, making it even more essential to suppress Stormy Daniel’s alleged story about a tryst with Trump. Trump’s defense team says it’s too prejudicial.

Prosecutor wants to introduce infamous 'Access Hollywood' tape as evidence

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said that the district attorney's office will want to admit a transcript of the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape that resurfaced ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

The district attorney's office said the tape contains an admission of sexual assault, though he acknowledged that they cannot show the tape itself during the trial.

Merchan will allow the prosecution to enter evidence about National Enquirer coverage on Trump

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass discussed the admissibility of the summer 2015 meeting at Trump Tower between Cohen and David Pecker, who was the publisher of the National Enquirer at the time.

Steinglass asked for permission to admit certain exhibits, including articles in the Enquirer with positive headlines on Trump that were shown to him before publication so that he could suggest changes and/or approve them. Negative stories about Trump’s primary opponents in the 2016 presidential election cycle — particularly Ben Carson, and Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida — were also reviewed by Trump and were designed to have maximum damaging impact.

Steinglass argued that the “whole point of the meeting” was for the Enquirer to distort what information the public got about Trump: to suppress negative stories about Trump, accentuate positive ones, and exaggerate his rivals’ weaknesses. The resulting headlines, Steinglass argued, cannot prejudice Trump when they were designed to help him.

Merchan ruled that he will allow the exhibits Steinglass outlined.

“This is necessary to complete the narrative of what took place,” Merchan said, and therefore, “the probative value of the evidence exceeds the prejudice, if any.”

How Trump’s legal woes have boosted his fundraising

As Trump’s hush money trial begins, here’s a look back at how Trump’s legal woes have boosted his campaign’s fundraising among small-dollar, grassroots donors who contribute online.

Trump’s online fundraising in 2023 spiked around major legal events, with his single largest online fundraising day coming in August when his mug shot was released, per fundraising reports from WinRed, the GOP’s main online fundraising platform.

  • Hush money indictment released (March 30, 2023): $2.2 million
  • One day before hush money arraignment in Manhattan (April 4, 2023): $3.9 million
  • One day after the classified documents indictment was released (June 9, 2023): $1.2 million
  • Classified documents case arraignment in Miami (June 13, 2023): $1.3 million
  • Federal election interference indictment released (Aug. 1, 2023): $1.1 million
  • Federal court arraignment in D.C. (Aug. 3, 2023): $1.4 million
  • One day after the Georgia election interference indictment was released (Aug. 15, 2023): $1.1 million
  • Mug shot released in Georgia election interference case (Aug. 25, 2023): $4.2 million
  • Georgia arraignment (Aug. 31, 2023): $987,000

But Trump's legal challenges have cost his campaign and affiliated PACs millions of dollars in legal fees.

Big names gather outside courthouse: 'I never miss a freak show'

A few big names circulated through a demonstration area across from the court, including Jordan Klepper of "The Daily Show," former New York gubernatorial candidate Andrew Giuliani and documentary filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi, a daughter of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

“I never miss a freak show,” Pelosi said as she marveled at the carnival-like atmosphere.

In one area, an Israeli reporter interviewed a man in a partial Santa costume. In another, a Trump impersonator wandered around with a fake security detail.

And, of course, there was Klepper, conducting his trademark interviews. One person in the crowd, Joseph Brucker, objected to what he described as Klepper taking advantage of unwitting subjects. His interviews tend to “make people look foolish,” Brucker said. “That’s the intention.”

Giuliani is about to go on with Klepper

Getting a taste of the prosecution's case

We are now getting our first taste of the state’s evidence. 

The prosecution is previewing National Inquirer headlines from 2016 — what they call the “concrete manifestation” of the scheme to suppress bad stories about then-candidate Trump, and push negative stories about his opponents.

Merchan: 'There will be no doubt how the prospective juror feels about' Trump

Adam Reiss and Summer Concepcion

In response to a request by Trump’s team to identify whether a prospective juror is pro- or anti-Trump, Merchan said, “There will be no doubt how the prospective juror feels about Mr. Trump” by the time they’re done with the questioning.

Another request to go into areas not addressed by the jury questionnaire was denied.

Merchan says for now, the trial won't be held on Wednesdays

Merchan said there will be no trial on any Wednesdays or on April 29. But if the trial starts to run long, he said he reserves the right to convene trial on Wednesday afternoons.

There will be no trial on any day that conflicts with the religious observance of any juror, as well, he said.

At most, that would mean April 22 and 23 for Passover as well as April 29 and 30, but that will not be true to accommodate the lawyers alone. He is willing to curtail trial on April 22 and April 23 by 2 p.m. to allow counsel to make it to their holiday observances by sundown, which is roughly at 7:43 pm ET.

If everything is going according to schedule, he said he will adjourn for Barron Trump’s high school graduation and that of one of the defense lawyers’ children on May 17 and June 3, respectively. But he said he's reserving judgment on that now.

Trump reposts false claim that Orthodox Jews are excluded from jury pool

Trump reposted a claim on his Truth Social website about Orthodox Jews being unable to sit on this jury because having court in session on Fridays conflicts with Shabbat, which begins Friday night at sundown.

But Merchan contradicted this claim today, saying that there would be no trial on any day that conflicts with the religious observance of any juror, including Passover, which begins next week.

Merchan also said he is willing to curtail trial on April 22 and April 23 by 2 p.m. to allow counsel to make it to their holiday observances by sundown, which is roughly at 7:43 p.m.

Judge refuses to recuse himself in response to Trump request

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad

Merchan began the day by discussing the motion filed by Trump's team calling for the judge to recuse himself from the case. He denied that request.

Merchan, for example, says that the defense motion to recuse "does not reasonably or logically" explain how an interview he gave to a publication violates the law or the defendant's rights.

"There is no basis for recusal," Merchan said.

The judge also said Trump has made attacks on social media, which he said the court has said is in violation of the gag order.

Merchan enters courtroom, now on the bench

Judge Juan Merchan has entered the courtroom and is now on the bench. Court is in session.

Trump's Truth Social account shares posts on a poll and Dominion Voting Systems

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

While Trump is in the courtroom, his Truth Social account shared posts about a poll from the 2024 GOP South Carolina primary that showed him leading Nikki Haley as well as one about Dominion Voting Systems.

Trump and his allies spread conspiracy theories about the voting machine company during the 2020 election.

It's unclear if Trump himself was posting on his account from inside the courtroom.

Here are the questions potential jurors will be asked today

The judge overseeing former President Donald Trump's hush money case in New York has approved a questionnaire for jury selection and instructions for prospective jurors in the trial, which is set to begin next week.

In a letter Monday, Judge Juan Merchan provided attorneys in the case with a jury questionnaire that consists of 42 numbered questions on a range of topics. The form does not ask about party affiliation, political contributions or voting history.

Read more about the questionnaire here.

Trump and his lawyers take their seats at the table

Trump, in a red tie, white shirt and dark suit, takes his seat at the table. Blanche has taken the seat closest to the aisle on one side of Trump with his partner Emil Bove, another former SDNY prosecutor, on Trump’s other side. Susan Necheles is on the left of Bove.

Trump is alternatively watching the action, as he did when Blanche just conferred with a court officer, and staring grimly into the distance. He is also now talking animatedly with Blanche as the latter slips him pages from a thick three-ring binder.

Former President Donald Trump attends the first day of his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on April 15, 2024.
Trump attends the first day of his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court.Angela Weiss / AFP - Getty Images

Trump, before walking into court, says trial 'is an assault on America'

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

In brief remarks to cameras set up inside the courthouse, Trump said that the trial is "an assault on America" and just an attack on a "political opponent."

"Nothing like this has ever happened before," he said. "This is political persecution. ... It's a case that should have never been brought."

"This is an assault on America and that's why I'm very proud to be here," Trump added. "This is really an attack on a political opponent."

Former president Donald Trump attends the first day of his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 15, 2024.
Trump speaks to reporters today.Angela Weiss / AFP - Getty Images

Trump’s historic New York hush money trial begins

Trump will make history today as the first former president to stand trial on criminal charges, a watershed moment for American politics, the presidential election and Trump himself.

Trump — the presumptive Republican nominee for president — is required to be present for the entire trial, which could last as long as eight weeks. He’s pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records, a low-level felony punishable by up to four years in prison. The trial kicks off today with jury selection.

The charges relate to Trump’s first run for president, in 2016. Prosecutors from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office allege he took part in a scheme with his then-lawyer Michael Cohen and the publisher of the National Enquirer to suppress scandalous stories about him in the run-up to Election Day.

One of those stories involved porn star Stormy Daniels, who alleged she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. Trump has denied the claim, and Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in October 2016 to keep quiet about the allegation. After he was elected, Trump repaid Cohen in payments recorded as legal fees at his company — documents the DA alleges were falsified to keep the hush money payments secret.

Trump has maintained he didn’t do anything wrong and derided the case as being part of a politically motivated “witch hunt” against him, a claim he’s used to galvanize his supporters and rake in millions of dollars in fundraising for his campaign.

Read the full story here.

Manhattan DA's team enters the courtroom

Bragg’s team has entered the courtroom and is starting to set up at the government’s table. Joshua Steinglass, a prosecutor who also played a lead role in the Trump Organization's criminal trial in 2022, is visible, as is Susan Hoffinger, who leads the investigations unit in Bragg’s office.

The press pool and today’s sketch artist appear to be seated in the first row directly behind them.The DA’s office has a large banker’s box on their table. Matthew Colangelo, another leading lawyer on the DA’s team and the subject of multiple Trump social media posts, also can be seen.

Colangelo, who previously served in the New York attorney general’s office, then went to Main Justice and left his job there to join Bragg’s team.

Trump says '200 million Americans' will be behind him as he walks into courtroom

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Just minutes after he arrived at the courthouse, Trump posted on his Truth Social account, "When I walk into that courtroom, I know I will have the love of 200 million Americans behind me, and I will be FIGHTING for the FREEDOM of 325 MILLION AMERICANS!"

It's unclear where he got the number 200 million. In 2020, he lost the popular vote, with the support of about 74 million Americans and in 2016, he lost the popular vote, with the support of about 62 million Americans.

All the players in Trump’s hush money trial: Judge Juan Merchan, Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels and more

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

JoElla Carman

Rebecca Shabad and JoElla Carman

The trial in the New York criminal case against Trump begins today with jury selection, the first of the four criminal cases against the former president to reach this pivotal stage.

The charges against Trump stem from an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office into an alleged “catch and kill” scheme to bury negative stories about Trump before the 2016 presidential election in a bid to influence the outcome.

According to prosecutors, several people participated in the scheme, which involved paying people off to buy their silence and covering up the payments in Trump’s business records.

Here are the key people in the case who will come up during the trial, potentially as witnesses.

Trump arrives at the courthouse

Trump’s motorcade arrived at the courthouse at 9:02 a.m.

Former President Donald Trump arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 15, 2024.
Trump arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court today.Adam Gray / AFP - Getty Images

Michael Cohen: Trump testifying is 'not going to happen'

Alexandra Marquezis based in Washington, D.C.

Michael Cohen told MSNBC's "The Weekend" on Saturday that he was skeptical Trump would testify in the criminal trial related to a 2016 hush money payment.

"The likelihood of Donald Trump being on the stand is equal to the likelihood of me waking up tomorrow 7 foot 6 and playing center for the New York Knicks. It's not going to happen," Cohen said.

His comments follow remarks that Trump made to reporters Friday, saying that he would "absolutely" testify in this trial.

"Every time Donald opens his mouth, you know that something nontruthful is coming out of it," Cohen added.

Cohen himself is set to testify in the upcoming trial. In 2018, he claimed that he paid Daniels $130,000 out of his own pocket and that he wasn't reimbursed by the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization.

Later that year, he pleaded guilty and served time for lying to Congress about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Tension running high inside the court

As we approach 9 a.m., tension is already high. A man believed to be member of the public in the overflow room just tried to leave the room and was told, in stark terms, his choices were to sit or leave the building. 

Trump Media shares plunge after company files to issue additional DJT stock

Kevin Breuninger, CNBC

Shares of Trump Media plunged more than 17% in the pre-trading hours today after the company filed to issue millions of additional shares of stock.

The company behind the Truth Social app, which trades under the stock ticker DJT on the Nasdaq, fell almost 20% last week.

Read the full story here.

Pool reporters, a sketch artist and cameras are waiting in court

As of right now, the morning pool — a pre-arranged group of six reporters plus one sketch artist — is already in the courtroom, which appears to be otherwise empty, save for court security officers. Several of us from the NBC and MSNBC teams are safely ensconced in the overflow room.

The cameras are set up to give us a view of both teams of lawyers, the judge and a podium in the corner that does not appear to be the usual lectern at which lawyers make arguments or question witnesses.

Supreme Court tackles Jan. 6 obstruction charge with Trump case looming

How the court rules in the case brought by Jan. 6 defendant Joseph Fischer, accused of obstructing an official proceeding, could affect the separate Trump prosecution.

Read the full story here.

Trump heads to the courthouse

Trump's motorcade has departed Trump Tower and is en route to the courthouse.

Former President Donald Trump waves as he departs Trump Tower for Manhattan Criminal Court on April 15, 2024.
Former President Donald Trump waves as he departs Trump Tower for Manhattan Criminal Court today.Charly Triballeau / AFP - Getty Images

Trump defiant ahead of historic trial

Hallie Jackson

The former president is feeling defiant as his criminal trial is set to begin, a senior campaign adviser says — a mood that’s evident to anyone who’s watched his recent rallies or poked around his Truth Social account. 

Trump attacked Michael Cohen days before hush money trial

Alexandra Marquezis based in Washington, D.C.

Two days before the start of Trump’s New York criminal trial, the former president attacked his former attorney Michael Cohen who is expected to be a key witness in the case.

In a post on Truth Social, Trump said, “Has disgraced attorney and felon Michael Cohen been prosecuted for LYING? Only TRUMP people get prosecuted by this Judge and these thugs! A dark day for our Country.”

Read the full story here.

Trump blasts hush money case hours before trial kicks off

In a series of posts on his Truth Social platform this morning, Trump repeatedly complained about the gag order that New York state Judge Juan Merchan ordered in the hush money case and argued that the legal battles he faces are attempts to interfere with his presidential campaign.

"I want my VOICE back. This Crooked Judge has GAGGED me. Unconstitutional! The other side can talk about me, but I am not allowed to talk about them! Rigged Trial!" he wrote in a post.

In a separate post, Trump wrote: "Why didn’t they bring this totally discredited lawsuit 7 years ago??? Election Interference!"

Trump also argued that the case should be tossed, claiming it falls outside of the statute of limitations, and slammed Merchan.

“As virtually every legal scholar has powerfully stated, the Biden Manhattan Witch Hunt Case is, among other things, BARRED by the Statute of Limitations,” he wrote. “This ‘trial’ should be ended by the highly conflicted presiding Judge.”

Trump supporters in Arizona say hush money trial is politically motivated

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — NBC News spoke to four supporters of Trump and Arizona Senate Republican candidate Kari Lake about the hush money trial, and all said they thought the trial is politically motivated.

Ryan Skinner, 52, pinned the blame for the trial on Trump's political opponents when asked how he felt about the former president being tied up in court for potentially two months.

“Well, I think it’s disgusting that his political enemies are using the judicial system against him,” he said. “It speaks of Soviet-area communism, you know, if you look at history, that’s what they did with their opponents. I think it’s wrong and it’s disgusting.”

Dustin Heiser, 36, argued that the hush money trial demonstrates that Trump is being “singled out” because it’s “kind of crazy” to see a former president face charges.

“I mean, it’s all public knowledge, the amount of money that presidents, Senate representatives get after they leave office,” Heiser said. “I mean, the stuff, insider information, as far as stocks and stuff like that go, all of that is public knowledge. So for Donald Trump to be brought up on charges like that, it’s kind of crazy. And I feel like since he’s the only one, it can’t help you think, but he’s been singled out.”

Heiser added that he believes Trump is being singled out for “standing up for what is wrong."

Geenee Roe, 63, said she thinks the legal battles Trump faces is an attempt to keep him away from campaigning for re-election.

“I think it’s horrible," Roe said. "I think it’s there. They’re just tying him up. And it’s, they’re just trying to keep him from campaigning, which he doesn’t need to do anyway.”

Cameron Link, 40, similarly argued that the hush money case is politically motivated, noting that Trump’s trials are unprecedented.

“This is the first time in American history that we’re going through some serious political stuff,” he said. “And I think that this is more, much more, politically driven than it is actually driven by actual criminal activity, if that makes sense.”

Biden campaign doesn't plan to talk about Trump's hush money trial

NBC News Washington Managing Editor Carol Lee joins the "Meet the Press" roundtable to report that President Joe Biden will not comment on Trump’s upcoming criminal trial despite some Biden allies hoping he would “go on the offense.”

Trump on trial tests his political wherewithal — and American resolve

Throughout its 248-year history, America has witnessed dramatic, high-profile courtroom battles that test the laws and tear at its social fabric: from the Haymarket Square riot case and the Scopes Monkey Trial to the failed prosecution of Hall of Fame NFL running back O.J. Simpson in a grisly double murder.

But the country has never seen anything quite like the made-for-the-screen trial set to start today in New York: A former president, who is also the current Republican Party nominee for the presidency, faces a jury in a criminal trial that is poised to grip the nation and inflame political rhetoric in a country that is already sharply divided.

Read the full story here

Manhattan Criminal Courts expect influx of jurors

Adam Reiss

Adam Reiss and Dareh Gregorian

As many as 6,000 jurors will be subpoenaed to Manhattan Criminal Courts this week, two sources with direct knowledge tell NBC News.

Not all these jurors are intended for the Trump trial but the increase in numbers can be attributed to his trial — a typical week would only have 4,000 jurors appearing.

While the trial is expected to last six to eight weeks, jury selection alone is expected to take one to two weeks. Today, prosecutors and lawyers for Trump will begin to narrow the poll of potential jurors to 12 jurors and six alternates.

What to expect from Trump's hush money trial

Adam Reiss

Dareh Gregorian and Adam Reiss

Trump will become the first former president to stand trial in a criminal case — and he’ll do so against the backdrop of a presidential campaign in which he’s the presumptive Republican nominee.

Jury selection begins today in New York City, and the trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.

Here’s a look at what you need to know and what’s expected to happen.

News media and police are busy outside court as dawn breaks

Outside the courthouse earlier this morning, it was still quiet as the sky began to lighten. The only activity was correspondents doing live hits right across the street from the courthouse and a mix of paid line-sitters and reporters queuing up. The police presence is noticeable — police SUVs rolling around the neighborhood, officers on the street — but not yet overwhelming.