NEW YORK (NEWSnet/AP) — Donald Trump will become first former president to stand trial on criminal charges when his hush money case begins with jury selection Monday.

The case will force the leading Republican presidential candidate to juggle campaigning with attending proceedings in a Manhattan courtroom to defend himself.

The charges involve a scheme to bury allegations of marital infidelity that arose during his first White House campaign in 2016. The trial could go for weeks. It is the first one of four pending criminal cases against Trump that could reach a verdict before voters decide Nov. 5 who to send to the White House.

Here’s an introduction to the hush money case:

What Does the Hush Money Case Involve?

 

The former president is accused of falsifying internal Trump Organization records as part of a scheme to bury damaging stories that he feared could hurt his 2016 campaign, particularly as Trump’s reputation was suffering at the time from comments he had made about women.

The allegations focus on payoffs to two women, porn actor Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, who said they had extramarital sexual encounters with Trump years earlier, as well as to a Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have a story about a child he alleged Trump had out of wedlock. Trump says none of these supposed sexual encounters occurred.

Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 and arranged for the publisher of the National Enquirer supermarket tabloid to pay McDougal $150,000 in a practice known as “catch-and-kill” in which a publication pays for exclusive rights to someone’s story with no intention of publishing it.

Prosecutors say Trump’s company reimbursed Cohen and paid him bonuses and extra payments, all of which were falsely logged in Trump Organization records as legal expenses.

Cohen has separately pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance law in connection with the payments.

What Are the Charges? 

 

Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. The charge carries up to four years in prison, though a sentence if convicted would ultimately be up to the judge.

The counts are linked to a series of checks written to Cohen to reimburse him for his role in paying off Daniels. Those payments, made over 12 months, were recorded as legal expenses in various internal company records.

Who is Expected to Testify?

 

Cohen, a Trump loyalist turned critic, is expected to be a key prosecution witness.

Other expected witnesses include Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

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