5 Moments That Have Defined Trump’s Hush-Money Trial So Far

The initial six days of Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial, the first for an American president, were a high-intensity spectacle.

A jury was seated, opening statements made and the first witness began testifying.

Mr. Trump, who faces up to four years behind bars if convicted, is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records for the way in which he accounted for a repayment to his former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen.

Mr. Cohen had channeled money to a porn star who was shopping her story of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. Prosecutors say the payment was meant to cover up a scandal that could have derailed Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

All trials have set structures and formal, legal rhythms. There are meticulous exchanges and minute observations of procedure. But already, this one has also had plenty of high-stakes moments befitting the unprecedented nature of the case that is being tried.

Here are five of the most memorable things that have been said in court so far:

The judge, Juan M. Merchan, at 4:34 p.m. on Thursday signaled that the trial would soon begin in earnest.

The process of choosing a jury was intense and arduous. Many prospective jurors excused themselves before they could even be asked a standardized set of 42 questions, citing an inability to be unbiased toward such a polarizing defendant.

Some who were initially chosen as jurors later expressed fears about being harassed, and one was excused.

Matthew Colangelo, a prosecutor, in his opening statement Monday pressed the idea that the case was not truly about seamy personal matters, nor New York’s laws governing business records. It was instead, he said, about a fraud practiced on the American people.

It is one of several ways the Manhattan district attorney’s office has sought to elevate the case it is prosecuting, arguing that it concerned far more than technical violations of the law.

Todd Blanche, one of Mr. Trump’s defense lawyers, used his opening statement to take direct aim at the prosecution’s overarching argument — and implicitly conceded that the payment was in fact designed to keep the porn star, Stormy Daniels, from telling her story before the election.

Mr. Blanche homed in on two themes: He argued that what Mr. Trump did was not illegal, and that Mr. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer — and an expected key witness for the prosecution — was untrustworthy, in part because of his criminal history.

There is a reason that the prosecution called David Pecker, the former publisher of The National Enquirer, as its first witness.

The tabloid executive showed how hush-money payments like the one at the center of the trial came to fruition. And on Monday and Tuesday, he laid out key background information about the conspiracy that prosecutors say was arranged between the publication and the Trump campaign.

Mr. Pecker described how he served as Mr. Trump’s “eyes and ears,” and worked to quash publicity threats to the campaign by purchasing the rights to negative stories and refusing to publish them.

Justice Merchan’s harsh words to Mr. Blanche came as he responded to prosecutors’ accusation that Mr. Trump had willfully violated the gag order imposed on him, which bars him from attacking jurors and witnesses, among others.

In a heated argument, and one that was at times hard to follow, Mr. Blanche tried to suggest that Mr. Trump’s amplification of other people’s social media posts did not count as violations of the order, that he was merely responding to political attacks, and that he was seeking to comply with the law.

That last assertion — that Mr. Trump was attempting to obey — prompted the utterance from the judge that no lawyer wants to hear.

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