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Trump Judge Merchan Warns Of Arrest If Trump Disrupts Or Skips Hush Money Trial

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Topline

New York Judge Juan Merchan on Monday warned former President Donald Trump could be arrested if he disrupts proceedings or skips the trial in his hush money case in Manhattan, as prosecutors claim Trump violated his gag order.

Key Facts

Trump, who faces 34 felony charges for allegedly falsifying business documents stemming from hush money payments to former adult film star Stormy Daniels, appeared in the Manhattan court Monday morning for a trial expected to last six weeks, despite Trump’s efforts to delay the proceedings.

Trump attorney Todd Blanche argued on Monday that Trump wants to be present for trial proceedings including sidebar conferences during the trial and voir dire—the initial examination of a witness or a juror.

Merchan, in response, cautioned Trump’s presence could also pose logistical challenges involving the Secret Service, warning that if Trump disrupts the proceedings, he could face jail time, meaning the trial would proceed in his absence.

The warning comes as prosecutors ask Merchan to find Trump in contempt for violating his gag order for criticizing potential witnesses on social media, and as Trump’s bids to delay the proceedings fall flat, including on Monday when Merchan denied Trump’s request for Merchan to recuse himself over claims Merchan is biased against Trump due to his daughter’s job at a marketing firm representing several Democratic candidates.

Merchan then warned the former president that he could also face an arrest warrant if he skips his trial without a reason—a statement given to defendants in New York known as the Parker Warning.

Earlier on Monday, Merchan refused to rule on Trump’s request to skip the trial on Wednesday for his son Barron Trump’s high school graduation, with Merchan saying that decision “really depends on if we are on time and where we are in the trial.”

Big Number

500. That’s how many new jurors court officials expect to appear starting Monday in the court’s jury selection process, a rigorous process involving a lengthy questionnaire. Merchan on Monday called that questionnaire “by far the most exhaustive” one the court had ever used, with 42 questions running the gamut from potential jurors’ work experience, to which news outlets they read, whether they have attended a Trump rally and if they support any fringe groups including QAnon.

Chief Critic

Trump has repeatedly blasted the case as a “witch hunt” and revamped his criticism ahead of jury selection Monday morning, arguing in aTruth Social tirade that the charges against him constitute a violation of New York’s statute of limitations. In that Truth Social post, the former president repeated another argument he has used since his indictment last year, asking why prosecutors waited roughly seven years from his 2016 presidential campaign to bring charges, the time when prosecutors said former Trump attorney Michael Cohen paid Daniels to stay quiet on an alleged affair with Trump. The charges against Trump, however, were filed outside the state’s statute of limitations, following a COVID-19-related extension to the state statute

Key Background

Trump was indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in March 2023, and faces 34 felony charges stemming from an alleged reimbursement to his former attorney Michael Cohen for a hush money payment to Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Prosecutors claim Trump falsely labeled that $420,000 payment to Cohen—including $130,000 Cohen allegedly paid to Daniels—as a legal expense, though Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges and claimed the payment to Cohen was not unlawful. In 2018, however, Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance crimes stemming from his payment to Daniels.

Further Reading

ForbesTrump Arrives In Court For First Day Of Criminal 'Hush Money' TrialForbesTrump Rips Manhattan Hush Money Case Just Before Arriving In Court
ForbesTrump's First Criminal Trial Starts Today-Here's Who Could Show Up And What To Watch ForForbesTrump Judge Submits 'Most Exhaustive Questionnaire' For Jurors In Hush Money Case: Here Are All 42 QuestionsForbesTrump's Trial Will Include 'Access Hollywood' Tape-But Not Sexual Assault Allegations, Judge Rules
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