Trump Trial Abruptly ENDS – Emergency Unfolds

Judge Juan Merchan presided over former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan, beginning at 9:30 AM on Monday. The day’s proceedings were scheduled to be brief, with the prosecution’s opening statement set to last nearly twice as long as the defense’s.

The trial, which is closely monitored by NBC News and other outlets, experienced an unexpected schedule adjustment due to an alternate juror facing a dental emergency. The juror, impaneled last week as alternate number six, had an appointment moved up to 1:20 PM, prompting Judge Merchan to adjourn the session at 12:30 PM to accommodate her needs.

The Associated Press noted the jurors’ neutral expressions as they exited the courtroom, where Trump is facing felony charges related to a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. This payment, made by Trump’s then-attorney Michael Cohen, is central to allegations of Trump fabricating business records to influence the 2016 presidential election outcome.

In April last year, Trump pleaded not guilty to a 34-count indictment, denying any wrongdoing and distancing the payment from his campaign efforts. Despite this, federal investigators have pursued this case vigorously, gaining cooperation from figures like David Pecker of American Media, who was granted immunity for his testimony about Trump’s awareness of the payments.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass announced Pecker would testify about his role in using his publication to support Trump’s campaign. Pecker had appeared before a Manhattan grand jury investigating Trump earlier in the year.

In related proceedings, Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal charges tied to the payment and served time for multiple offenses, including campaign finance violations. American Media Inc. also confessed to suppressing stories detrimental to Trump, notably involving Karen McDougal, to whom they paid $150,000 for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump.

Throughout, Trump has lambasted the trial as a politically motivated witch hunt, orchestrated by a “Corrupt Soros Funded District Attorney,” Alvin Bragg, whom he accuses of failing to control violent crime in New York. Trump’s frustrations boiled over in a post on Truth Social just after midnight on Monday, criticizing the legal basis for his indictment as unbelievable and questioning the prosecution’s labeling of financial transactions related to legal fees.

Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, has echoed his sentiments, accusing the Democratic-majority state and the Biden administration of a “coordinated effort” to undermine Trump legally. This trial continues to draw intense scrutiny and debate over its implications for justice and political rivalry in the United States.