Trump trial: Judge Merchan mulls prosecution request to fine Trump $3,000 for attacking witnesses

Courtroom sketch of Donald Trump entering courtroom.
Former President Donald Trump enters the courtroom in Manhattan on Monday in this courtroom sketch. (Jane Rosenberg/Pool/Reuters)
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This is Yahoo News' succinct update on the criminal and civil cases against former President Donald Trump. Here are the latest developments:

🚨 What happened today

On the first day of Trump’s first criminal trial, prosecutors asked Judge Juan Merchan to fine Trump $3,000 for three social media posts attacking witnesses who will testify in the hush money case against him that they say violate a gag order put in place by the judge last month. Merchan said Monday that he will hear further arguments on the prosecution request on April 24.

📌 Tell me more

  • In recent social media posts, Trump attacked his former lawyer Michael Cohen and adult-film star Stormy Daniels, both of whom are expected to testify, calling them “sleazebags.”

  • Prosecutors asked Merchan to sanction Trump $3,000 for the social media posts, which they say violated the judge’s gag order that prevents Trump from making statements about the participation of prospective witnesses.

  • Trump’s lawyers argued that the former president was “responding to salacious, repeated attacks by these witnesses.”

  • Merchan responded to that point by saying, “I don't recall that there's an exception if he's being attacked.”

  • During a lunch break, Trump posted a video of right-wing ally Laura Loomer verbally attacking Merchan's wife.

  • The judge also made a series of rulings earlier in the day on what evidence prosecutors could present during the trial. They’ll be allowed to enter into the record a transcript of the famous Access Hollywood tape in which Trump boasts about being able to sexually assault women, but the video will not be shown.

  • Merchan gave instructions on the trial schedule, including that court will not be in session most Wednesdays. He also rejected a request by Trump to be excused from the trial next week so that he could attend arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on his motion that presidential immunity protects him from being prosecuted in the Jan. 6 election interference case.

  • “We've got a real problem with this judge,” Trump said upon leaving the courtroom of Merchan's decision not to allow him to miss court next week.

  • Jury selection also began on Monday, with potential jurors being asked questions about where they get their news, any possible affiliations with groups like QAnon, the Proud Boys or Antifa, whether they have any views on how Trump is being treated in the case, etc.

  • In all, 96 potential jurors were called, with roughly half being dismissed after they indicated they did not think they could fairly reach a verdict in the case against Trump.

  • Jury selection will resume on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. ET in the hopes of identifying 12 jurors and six alternates. While several prospective jurors passed an initial screening, they will also later be questioned by defense and prosecution lawyers before being seated on the jury.

📖 Get caught up

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