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Criminal trial of Donald Trump to begin in New York

The criminal trial of Former US President Donald Trump starts later today with opening statements by prosecution and defence lawyers in a Manhattan court.

Mr Trump faces 34 charges of falsifying accounts and campaign finance violations related to hush money payments to women ahead of the 2016 Presidential election.

Prosecution lawyers will tell the jury of seven men and five women what they aim to prove in the case, to be followed by defence lawyers who are expected to argue the case should never have been brought.

The case originates with $280,000 dollars in hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, and Playboy model Karen McDougal, in 2016, just weeks before the presidential election.

However, the criminal charges relate to how Mr Trump’s organisation accounted for the payments.

The payments were made through the former US president’s lawyer Michael Cohen, who is the star witness for the prosecution.

The trial will also focus on the ways the tabloid newspaper the National Enquirer allegedly helped Trump’s campaign.

It is alleged the newspaper had helped, not just by suppressing tales from women like Ms Daniels and Ms McDougal in a so-called catch and kill scheme, but in publishing damaging material on Mr Trump’s opponents

Prosecutors will also allege this violated campaign finance laws.

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