Trump's 1st criminal trial is underway. Here's what you need to know.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has charged the former president with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

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On Monday, Donald Trump again made history, becoming the first former president to go to trial on criminal charges.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has charged Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in an effort to hide a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. That payment, according to prosecutors and Daniels, was made to keep her quiet about an alleged extramarital affair she had with Trump prior to the 2016 presidential election. While the payment of hush money is not itself a felony, it rises to that level when done to enable other crimes, such as violating tax and campaign finance laws.

As he has with all of the criminal and civil cases filed against him, Trump has proclaimed his innocence on all charges and also denies that he had sex with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

When will the trial be held and how long will it last?

Jury selection began Monday at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse in New York City. The trial will be held on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and is expected to take six to eight weeks.

Will the trial be televised?

Nope. Reporters will be allowed inside the courtroom and will be allowed to post their observations live, but news photographers will be given only “45 seconds of access to the courtroom each day,” prior to the start of each session, the New York Times reported.

Will Daniels testify?

Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the trial, ruled last month that Daniels could testify in the case, and she appears more than willing to share her story.

“I’m absolutely ready. I’ve been ready,” Daniels said last month in an appearance on ABC’s The View. “I relish the day that I get to face him and speak my truth.”

Who else will take the stand for the prosecution?

Here’s a who’s who of the witnesses Bragg’s team is expected to call during the trial:

David Pecker: The former CEO of American Media (AMI), which owns the National Enquirer, Pecker agreed to pay sources for potentially damaging stories about Trump, then bury — not print — the stories in what is known as a “catch and kill” arrangement.

Karen McDougal: A former Playboy model who also alleges she had an extramarital affair with Trump, McDougal received a $150,000 payment from AMI for the rights to tell her story. The story never ran, and McDougal was not allowed to publish it elsewhere.

Michael Cohen: Trump’s former lawyer has told prosecutors he arranged the $130,000 payment from Trump to Daniels and was reimbursed in a way that would hide the transaction from state officials and the public.

Hope Hicks: Hicks was Trump’s press secretary in 2016, when the payment to Daniels was made. She has been interviewed by prosecutors about phone calls she may have participated in between Trump and Cohen about the payment.

Rhona Graff: Graff is senior VP at the Trump Organization and an executive assistant to Trump.

Madeleine Westerhout: Westerhout served as Trump’s director of Oval Office operations.

Deborah Tarasoff: A former Trump Organization employee in the company’s accounting department, Tarasoff could testify about Trump’s bookkeeping.

Jeffrey McConney: McConney is a former executive at the Trump Organization who has knowledge of the company’s financial transactions. He also testified in the civil financial fraud trial.

Could the trial still be delayed or canceled on appeal?

In the week preceding the trial alone, three different appeals court judges rejected motions from Trump’s lawyers to delay the start of the trial. Trump was able to delay the trial by nearly a month after his lawyers argued that they needed more time to review evidence introduced by federal prosecutors, but his lawyers were unsuccessful in at least 11 other appeals.

Trump still has outstanding appeals, including on whether Merchan should be allowed to oversee the trial and whether his gag order preventing Trump from attacking the family members of court staff went too far. But after a string of court losses this past week, none of them delayed the start of the trial on Monday.

Is Trump required to be in court for the trial?

Former Donald Trump attends the first day of his hush money trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday.
Former Donald Trump attends the first day of his hush money trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday. (Angela Weiss/Pool via AFP via Getty Images)

Under New York law, criminal defendants are required to be in court for the duration of the trial in which they are charged. That means that days that Trump might have spent campaigning for president will be spent inside the lower Manhattan courtroom. The judge can provide some wiggle room, however, if Trump has what is considered a valid reason for missing a given court session.

What does Trump say about the charges?

Trump has been outspoken in his view that the hush money case is a “Witch Hunt,” that Merchan “hates” him and that Bragg is “racist” for having brought charges he says “HAVE NEVER BEEN BROUGHT BEFORE.”

Trump has also denied having a sexual relationship with Daniels, and has pointed to a statement she signed in 2018 in which she also denies having had sex with Trump as well as ever being paid to keep quiet about it.

Daniels has since stated she was coerced into signing the letter and that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen drafted it.

Could Trump go to prison if found guilty?

Each of the 34 charges against Trump is a Class E felony — the lowest category. All told, he could face a maximum prison sentence of four years upon conviction. If Trump is found guilty on all or some of the criminal counts, it will be up to the jury to decide how he will be punished. Many legal experts believe that jail time would be unlikely in this case.

When are Trump’s other criminal trials expected to begin and how do they compare to the hush money case?

Overall, Trump faces the prospect of four different criminal trials. None of the other three have been scheduled yet, but the judges in those cases are expected to make that determination in the coming months.

Two of the cases — Georgia election interference and Jan. 6 federal election interference — involve Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results while he was still in office. The classified documents case involves Trump’s handling of restricted materials after leaving the White House and his alleged efforts to block federal investigators from recovering them.

The three other cases each carry a much stiffer possible prison sentence upon conviction than the hush money case.

Can he still run or be elected president if he’s found guilty?

Yes. Even if Trump is convicted in the hush money trial and sentenced to prison, there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prevents him from running for president from behind bars.

Have more questions?

Send us your questions about the case here. We will compile them and try to provide answers in a future post.