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Trump’s historic hush money trial begins in New York, judge rules Access Hollywood video cannot be shown

Donald Trump’s historic hush money trial begins today with jury selection. This is the first time that a former president has faced trial on criminal charges. The case surrounds a $130,000 payment that Trump allegedly made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about their alleged affair. Trump denies any relationship with Daniels and denies that he instructed his then-lawyer Michael Cohen to send Daniels the money at the end of the 2016 election. Trump is accused of repaying Cohen in installments that he marked as legal fees in company records. Trump is required to be present for the trial, which will be held four days a week and is expected to last eight weeks. Jury selection could take up to two weeks due to the large pool of prospective jurors. Even though prosecutors wanted to include the “Access Hollywood” tape, the judge ruled that it could not be used as evidence.

Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, said that his client will try to be present every day, but there may be an occasion when he will be absent. Prosecutors said they want Judge Juan Merchan to punish Trump for violating the judge’s gag order by sharing certain social media posts over the weekend. They call for a sanction of $1,000 per post. The DA’s office wants Trump to take these posts down and be punished with jail time if he continues to blatantly ignore the gag order.

On the topic of Cohen’s guilty pleas, Merchan said “I don’t see how you can pick and choose.” He continued, “We have about 500 jurors waiting on us. And to be honest with you I really am not interested in getting into this minutia.”

Trump is showing little emotion, even towards the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape and the many allegations of sexual assault from various women that came out during the campaign. However, the judge ruled the tape “should not come in.” Trump’s team argued that it was “too prejudicial.” The prosecution argues that there was a deliberate scheme to “kill bad stories” about Trump in the media.

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

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