Merchan threatens Trump with prison time if he misses court

2X16T8R New York, United States. 15th Apr, 2024. Former President Donald Trump arrives for the first day of his criminal trial in New York, on Monday, April 15, 2024. Trump, the first former president to stand trial on criminal charges, is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to allegedly cover hush money payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels in 2016. Pool photo by Jabin Botsford/UPI Credit: UPI/Alamy Live News

Photo: Alamy

President Donald Trump appeared in court today for the start of the trial against him on allegations of paying hush money to Stormy Daniels. Prosecutors have brought charges against Trump for 34 counts of falsifying business records, all stemming from alleged payments made by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Judge Juan M. Merchan is presiding over the case and has previously issued gag orders that prevent Trump from speaking publicly about certain aspects of the case and the parties involved.

The first day of the trial began with prosecutors invoking the gag orders and asking Judge Merchan to fine Trump for posts he has made to Truth Social relating to the case.

Judge Merchan spoke directly to Trump regarding the possibility of jail time if he misses court. Merchan stated if Trump deliberately failed to appear in court, a warrant would be issued for his arrest.

Merchan’s comments to Trump also included a warning that the trial could continue in his absence and, if convicted, sentencing could proceed as well. Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, assured the court that he plans to be present during the trial.

The case is moving forward in the height of campaign season, despite efforts by Trump’s lawyers to delay the start of the trial until the Supreme Court has ruled on the question of presidential immunity. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the 34 counts against him in the case.

Despite allegations that the charges in the case amount to an elaborate form of election interference, the Trump campaign has shown no signs of slowing down or being deterred by the trial. Trump delivered remarks at a rally for supporters in Schnecksville, PA, on April 13, two days before the trial began.

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