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Trump’s Hush Money Case: Opening Statements Set for Today

Opening statements in Donald Trump’s hush money case in New York City are set to begin today, marking the first criminal trial involving a former president.

Following the seating of a full jury consisting of 12 individuals and six alternates last Friday, Trump is scheduled to return to court for the trial proceedings.

Last week, lawyers engaged in an extensive process of questioning dozens of New Yorkers to select the panel. The final jury includes a sales professional, a software engineer, an English teacher, and multiple lawyers.

Over the weekend, Trump canceled an outdoor campaign rally originally planned at the Aero Center Wilmington in North Carolina due to severe weather conditions. The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the region on Saturday evening.

“We want to keep everybody safe. That’s the most important thing,” Trump conveyed in a live phone call broadcast to the gathered crowd in Wilmington, explaining the decision and indicating they would “just do a rain check.”

The North Carolina event would have marked Trump’s first rally since the beginning of his trial, as the former president manages his criminal case alongside his presidential campaign.

Judge Juan Merchan has confirmed that opening statements will proceed on Monday morning, despite a recent request by the defense for an emergency stay of trial.

Merchan directed Trump’s lawyers to cease filing motions for reconsideration, asserting, “There comes a point where you accept my rulings.”

“There’s nothing else to clarify. There is nothing else to argue. We are going to have opening statements on Monday. We are starting on Monday,” Judge Merchan emphasized.

Leaving court, Trump appeared resigned to the schedule for opening statements on Monday, placing blame on Judge Merchan for the outcome.

“We just had another hearing, and the trial starts on Monday, which is much sooner than many people anticipated,” Trump remarked. “The judge wants this to move quickly, for his reasons, not mine.”

These comments followed chaotic scenes outside the courthouse, where emergency crews responded to a nearby park after a man reportedly set himself on fire. The man, identified by police as 37-year-old Max Azzarello of Florida, succumbed to his injuries over the weekend.

Trump declined to address questions about the self-immolation incident outside the courtroom, instead pivoting to allegations of election interference by his political opponent, President Joe Biden.

“This is a massive witch hunt designed to damage a campaign that’s defeating the worst president in history,” Trump asserted. “Biden is the worst president in the history of our country.”

The hush money case marks the first of Trump’s four indictments to go to trial.

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