Donald Trump’s First Criminal Trial Begins in New York on Monday

Former US President Donald Trump (AFP)
Former US President Donald Trump (AFP)
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Donald Trump’s First Criminal Trial Begins in New York on Monday

Former US President Donald Trump (AFP)
Former US President Donald Trump (AFP)

Former US President Donald Trump will make history as the first former president to stand trial on Monday in the first of four criminal cases he is facing.
But the presumptive Republican nominee for president will not be the only person standing in trial, which will last up to two months.
A star witness in the case is Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who said there will be 'a few surprises' in his ex boss’ hush-money trial on Monday.
Trump is accused of falsifying business records to cover up payments made during his first White House run in 2016 to the adult film star Stormy Daniels in return for her silence about an alleged affair.
A third star in the case is Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who refuses to deliver any statements outside the court sessions.
Tight Security Measures
The trial isn't expected to be televised, per New York law. But an unprecedented security operation will descend around the courthouse in Lower Manhattan amid possible rallies, either backing or opposing Trump.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) will create no-go zones from the courthouse to Trump Tower, where the former president will stay during the trial.
The Police increased security cameras and monitored social media to try to detect any threats, according to CNN.
Also, tight security measures will be imposed around Bragg and Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the former US president's criminal trial.
According to the court schedule, Trump likely will have to be in court for at least four days a week.
At a press conference with House Speaker Mike Johnson, at his Florida resort home Mar-a-Lago, Trump said he would testify under oath in his criminal hush money trial.
But Trump won't have to be in court on Wednesdays, so he will likely use those days and weekends for campaign events.
Trump's team also will continue to treat every moment the former President is outside the courtroom as a campaign event.
Trump Rallying Supporters
Only three days away from the beginning of his hush money trial in New York City, Donald Trump posted, “72 hours until all hell breaks loose. If we fail to have a MASSIVE outpouring of peaceful patriotic support – right here, right now – all Hell will break loose.”
Hundreds of prospective jurors are expected to show up at the Manhattan courthouse on Monday, when prosecutors and Trump's attorneys will begin a jury-selection process that could last up to two weeks.
Trump faces 34 felony counts in the case brought by Bragg, who accused the former president of intentionally obscuring business records to cover up a $130,000 payment that Cohen, Trump's lawyer and fixer, made to Stormy Daniels in the months before Trump was elected president in 2016.
Cohen has said he made the payment at Trump's instruction.
Hope Hicks, a former Trump White House aide, also is expected to testify and provide key details on what was happening in the former president's inner circle in the days before the 2016 election.
Political Hunt
The case is viewed as the weakest of Trump's four criminal indictments, but it's looking like the only one likely to wrap up before the Nov. 5 election.
A conviction in New York still could put Trump behind bars — theoretically, anyway.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and repeatedly has called the case a political witch hunt.
Most voters think the charges in the hush-money case are serious, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Wednesday.
Several polls have indicated that if Trump is convicted, he'll lose support among some voters in what's expected to be a tight race for the White House.
Meanwhile, Trump and President Joe Biden remain locked in a close race for the presidency, according to a new poll from the New York Times and Siena College, which finds registered voters nationwide splitting 46% for Trump to 45% for Biden with no clear leader in the contest.

 



Iran Presidential Hopefuls Debate Economy Ahead of Election

Presidential candidate Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf speaks during a campaign event in Tehran, Iran June 18, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
Presidential candidate Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf speaks during a campaign event in Tehran, Iran June 18, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
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Iran Presidential Hopefuls Debate Economy Ahead of Election

Presidential candidate Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf speaks during a campaign event in Tehran, Iran June 18, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
Presidential candidate Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf speaks during a campaign event in Tehran, Iran June 18, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters

The six candidates vying to succeed ultraconservative president Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash, focused on revitalizing Iran's sanctions-hit economy in their first debate ahead of next week's election.

The contenders -- five conservatives and a sole reformer -- faced off in a four-hour live debate, vowing to address the financial challenges affecting the country's 85 million people.

Originally slated for 2025, the election was moved forward after Raisi's death on May 19 in a helicopter crash in northern Iran.

Long before the June 28 election, Iran had been grappling with mounting economic pressures, including international sanctions and soaring inflation.

"We will strengthen the economy so that the government can pay salaries according to inflation and maintain their purchasing power," conservative presidential hopeful Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said.

Ghalibaf, Iran's parliament speaker, also pledged to work towards removing crippling US sanctions reimposed after then US president Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran's economy grew by 5.7 percent in the year to March 2024, with authorities targeting a further eight percent growth this year, driven by hydrocarbon exports.

The sole reformist candidate, Massoud Pezeshkian, said he would seek to build regional and global relations to achieve this growth.

He also called for easing internet restrictions in the country where Facebook, Instagram, Telegram and X are among the social media platforms banned.

Reformists, whose political influence has waned in the years since the 1979 revolution, have fallen in behind Pezeshkian after other moderate hopefuls were barred from standing.

Ultraconservative former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, however, said Iran did not need to repair its relations with the West.

He took aim at Trump, saying his policy of "maximum pressure" against Iran had "failed miserably".

- 'Maximum pressure' -

In the absence of opinion polls, Ghalibaf, Jalili and Pezeshkian are seen as the frontrunners for Iran's second highest-ranking job.

Ultimate authority in the state is wielded by the supreme leader rather the president with 85-year-old Ali Khamenei holding the post for 35 years.

Incumbent Vice President Amirhossein Ghazizadeh-Hashemi said during the debate he would seek to lower inflation following a "political leadership style similar to that of Martyr Raisi."

Raisi easily won Iran's 2021 election in which no reformist or moderate figures were allowed to run. Backed by Khamenei he had been tipped to possibly replace the supreme leader.

Iran’s relations with the West continued to suffer, particularly following the outbreak of the October 7 Gaza war.

Tehran's support for the Palestinian armed group Hamas, coupled with ongoing diplomatic tensions over Iran's nuclear program have hastened the decline.

Mostafa Pourmohammadi, the only cleric in the running, blamed international sanctions for "blocking the economy" and "making financial transactions impossible".

Tehran's conservative mayor, Alireza Zakani, said the US sanctions were "cruel" but were not the main problem behind Iran's economic hardship.

"We should emphasize the economic independence of the country, de-dollarize the economy and rely on our own national currency," he said.