Without hints: How and why former US president is being tried

All parallels with modern Belarus are coincidental / collage by Ulad Rubanau
All parallels with modern Belarus are coincidental / collage by Ulad Rubanau

The 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, is the first American leader to be officially charged with a crime. Guilty or not, the jury has yet to reach a verdict.

Prosecutors accuse the former president of conspiring to illegally influence the outcome of the 2016 election through a series of silence payments. That is, for trying to use money to hide uncomfortable episodes that could harm his image and thus his candidacy.

That is what the 34-count indictment says. Trump firmly pleaded not guilty before the judge, who promptly issued a warning to refrain from rhetoric in the courtroom that could stir up animosity or cause unrest.

After the court session, Trump thought it best not to speak to reporters. Before that, he addressed his supporters on his own social network, Truth Social, which he switched to after his page was blocked on Twitter because his supporters stormed the Capitol building on January 6, 2021, following posts there.

"Heading to Lower Manhattan, the Courthouse. Seems so SURREAL — WOW, they are going to ARREST ME. Can’t believe this is happening in America. MAGA!" he wrote.

The 16-page indictment provides new details about the scheme, which prosecutors say involved numerous payouts. They include two women who said they had extramarital sex with Trump years ago. Among them is porn actress Stormy Daniels, who agreed not to go public with information about her relationship with Trump on the eve of the 2016 presidential election. It is believed that he paid the woman $ 130 thousand.

The accusations against Trump are based on the testimony of his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who was sent to prison in 2018. The reason was the violations committed during the financing of the presidential campaign and the payment of taxes. Cohen pleaded guilty and spent 13.5 months in prison and another year and a half under house arrest. He was also ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution.

In 2019, Cohen was disbarred from practicing law in the state of New York, and he was released from house arrest at the end of 2021. The campaign finance allegations surfaced after it was revealed that it was Cohen who helped organize payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal. Trump himself has denied ever having a relationship with them.

In and of themselves, such payments are not against the law. But Trump, along with his lawyer, filed the transaction as a legal fee, prosecutors say. But this in the state of New York is considered falsification of papers and is punishable by a criminal article.

The defense categorically denies the charges and says that too much attention is being paid to the case of the 45th president of the United States.

Former US president's lawyer, Joe Takopina, said that rule if law was dead in the country.

Trump wrote on social media that the Manhattan Criminal Court was a "grossly unfair place to hear the case", but did not provide any evidence of this "injustice".

He called for the trial to be moved to Staten Island, where locals regularly favor Republicans.

The current president of the United States, Joe Biden, refrained from commenting on the scandal surrounding the Trump trial. The previous day, April 3, at an event in Minnesota, he told reporters only that he had no concerns about possible unrest in New York related to this trial, saying: "I believe in the New York Police Department."

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in turn said that their focus was on the American people and she would simply not comment on any ongoing case.

Lawyers say it will be at least a year before the trial begins. The accusation and even conviction does not deprive Trump of the right to run for president, and the election is already a year later.

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