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Defendant Trump is staying on the campaign trail

Hadriana Lowenkron, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

NEW YORK — It begins at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, with a black motorcade pulling into the morning rush.

It ends four miles downtown, at a dingy courthouse – with TV cameras, photo ops and the familiar soundbites: “rigged,” witch hunt,” “disgrace.”

Now, repeat – back and forth, every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday — until 12 citizens reach a verdict.

So goes the strange new rhythm of the Trump 2024 presidential campaign and what has become its driving counterbeat: the first criminal trial of a former president in the nation’s history.

Donald Trump this week brought his campaign to New York, his old hometown, with scenes unlike anything in American politics. With 12 jurors now seated and opening arguments expected as soon as Monday, Trump is both on trial and on the trail.

As the polarized nation knows, Trump has been accused of falsifying business records related to hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels; he has pleaded not guilty to all charges, claiming the case is part of a plot by his political enemies to prevent him from retaking the White House.

 

But now, at last, it’s official: Trump is campaigning for the highest office in the land while simultaneously defending himself in a salacious criminal case that probably would have ended the career of any other U.S. politician.

Seven months before Election Day, the historic trial has already created a head-snapping tableau. For the next few months – exactly how long the trial will run is uncertain — Trump, the Republican standard-bearer, and Trump, the criminal defendant, will meld into one.

Trump’s challenges, legal and logistical, are formidable. Like countless criminal defendants who have stood trial in room 1530 of the Manhattan Criminal Court, Trump is required by law to attend the proceedings each day. That will drastically limit his ability to campaign, at least outside greater New York, a Democratic-leaning area he considers enemy turf. Large rallies in Republican strongholds, catnip to his supporters, will, at best, be pared back.

But Trump already has seized on the wall-to-wall news media coverage of the hush-money trial. Under New York law, cameras aren’t allowed in the 15th-floor courtroom, but Trump has turned the street below into a near-daily campaign stop.

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