Historic trial against ex-president Donald Trump

Donald Trump became the first former US president to stand trial in criminal proceedings on Monday. He is accused of manipulating business records with the aim of covering up a hush money payment to pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels. Trump's motion for recusal against Judge Juan Merchan has been rejected. Commentators discuss the ramifications of the trial.

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Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

US showcases the rule of law

The US can be proud of these proceedings, writes Rzeczpospolita:

“The trial against Trump is a spectacular example of the strength of the American justice system, to which - at least in theory - everyone must be accountable, from the weakest to the most powerful. Such a spectacle is unimaginable not only in totalitarian Russia or China - even in Western Europe similar examples are not easy to find.”

Kleine Zeitung (AT) /

Ludicrous self-aggrandisement

The Kleine Zeitung finds the former president's interpretation of the situation absurd:

“In Trump's eyes the trial is 'political persecution' and an 'attack on a political opponent'. The competent, irreproachable judge Juan Merchan is biased, ('This corrupt judge has gagged me'). The witnesses are 'disgusting'. The jurors have been wrongly selected anyway. And then, of course, Trump's laziest trump card: his being on trial as a private citizen for misconduct is automatically an 'attack on America'. ... So in Trump's mind, Trump IS America. ... This is lunacy on the highest plateau of self-aggrandisement.”

Ukrajinska Prawda (UA) /

Swift judgment possible

Ukrainska Pravda examines Trump's delaying tactics:

“In Trump's 'track record' there are four criminal proceedings of varying complexity with completely different legal perspectives. ... The court in these proceedings was the first to get down to brass tacks, but Trump still has the option of delaying (which he has been doing in recent days). The former president's main complaint is that the jury will convene in a district where the majority are Democratic Party supporters and are biased against him (even though the jury selection procedure includes a bias test). On the other hand, this is the case that has the best chances of being concluded before the US presidential elections in November.”

Mediapart (FR) /

Impact hard to predict

Trump is both gaining and losing support, Mediapart observes:

“Last year he was able to raise four million dollars in campaign donations within 24 hours in the wake of the indictment in Manhattan - a record sum. And today too, his teams are trying to capitalise on the affair by portraying the former president as the victim of a 'witch hunt'. ... For 36 dollars you can buy a piece of history in the form of a T-shirt printed with the date of Donald Trump's indictment. ... On the other hand, the aggressive communication in the interviews given after the court hearings could alienate independent or undecided voters in key states.”

Polityka (PL) /

Trumped-up charges?

Polityka has doubts about whether the allegations will stand up in court:

“The charges are not undisputed. In the state of New York, tampering with business records is a misdemeanour, not a felony. However, prosecutor Alvin Bragg argues that the records were falsified to conceal a violation of the campaign financing regulations. ... Because in his view, the goal was to silence Daniels and [ex-model Karen] McDougal in order to conceal the fact of Trump's unethical behaviour just weeks before the November 2016 election, which constitutes illegal tampering for the purpose of winning an election under federal law. Some legal experts consider this account of the case in the indictment to be somewhat far-fetched.”

Le Temps (CH) /

The perfect stage for New York's enfant terrible

The former US president will revel in the limelight, Le Temps predicts:

“Power, sex, betrayals, theatrical plot twists, an uncontrollable defendant: this trial has all the ingredients for a typical US drama. But its educational value will be limited. It's hardly a revelation that Donald Trump is a serial liar and no paragon of virtue. ... We can be sure that the defendant will ham up the role as the victim of judicial persecution, as it is a position that he is adept at turning to his political advantage... A little more than six months before the election, New York, which hates its enfant terrible with a vengeance, is now offering him the perfect stage.”