Trump trial day 3 recap: All 12 jurors selected in hush money case, opening arguments Monday

Editor's note: This page reflects the news from Donald Trump's criminal trial on Thursday, April 18. For the latest news on the hush money trial, please read our live updates file from Day 4 of Trump's trial in New York.

Jury selection is underway again Thursday, the third day of former President Donald Trump's trial over whether he falsified business records to hide a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

Twelve jurors have officially been selected, though alternate jurors still have to make the cut for the case to move forward.

Judge Juan Merchan excused two of the seven jurors chosen Tuesday. One expressed concern about her identity becoming public and her ongoing ability to render a judgment free from outside influences. The other was excused after questions were raised about whether the man was truthful in responding to a question about whether he or anyone close to him had been accused of a crime.

Keep up with USA TODAY's coverage of the former president's groundbreaking trial.

Court has wrapped for Thursday

Court proceedings have wrapped for the day. Trump exited, and reporters have just been permitted to leave.

The trial will resume Friday at 9:30 am with continued jury selection to find the remaining alternate jurors.

– Aysha Bagchi

Trump brandishes news stories criticizing his indictment

Former President Donald Trump showed reporters a thick sheaf of news articles and opinion pieces criticizing his New York charges for falsifying business records to disguise hush money payments, while leaving the courthouse after the third day of jury selection Thursday afternoon. He cited one calling it a "zombie case," in reference to the fact that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's predecessor had opened the investigation but didn't bring charges.

“It’s a whopping outrage,” Trump said. “The whole world is watching this hoax.”

Trump, who has bristled about being kept in court rather than out campaigning for president, complained about the courtroom being cold.

“I’m sitting here for days now, from morning 'til night, in that freezing room,” Trump said. “Everybody was freezing in there.”

--Bart Jansen

Judge says he 'can't fault' prosecutors for not sharing witness names in light of Trump's attacks

In light of Trump's social media posts attacking potential witnesses, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said he didn't intend to share with the defense the names of witnesses the prosecution will call. Steinglass said that's a courtesy he would normally extend during a trial, but not under these circumstances.

"I can't fault the people for that," Judge Juan Merchan said. Trump lawyer Todd Blanche proposed that he could represent to the court that Trump wouldn't post about any witness.

"That he will not tweet about any witness? I don't think you can make that representation," Merchan said.

– Aysha Bagchi

Judge to end Monday proceedings early in light of Passover

Judge Juan Merchan said he will end proceedings on Monday early at 2:00 p.m. ET in light of the Passover holiday.

– Aysha Bagchi

Judge indicates he expects to be ready for opening statements Monday

Although Judge Juan Merchan said "We have our jury," after the 12th juror and one alternate was chosen, several more alternates are still needed and the selection process is expected to continue Friday.

The selected jurors were sworn in, and Merchan told them he expects to have the alternates before Monday morning. He instructed them to arrive at the court in time to get started at 9:30 a.m. ET.

– Aysha Bagchi

The 12 jurors, plus one alternate, selected for Trump trial

Five more jurors have been selected, completing the 12 jurors who will render a verdict in former President Donald Trump's trial, assuming all 12 last until the end. One alternate has also been selected.

Judge Juan Merchan also rejected a defense request to strike a potential juror based on impartiality concerns. Merchan didn't find that social media posts flagged by the defense raised sufficient concern.

"We have our jury," Merchan said Thursday.

–Aysha Bagchi

Potential juror who called Trump a 'racist, sexist narcissist' struck by judge

After questioning a potential juror, Judge Juan Merchan, agreed with the defense to strike her over concerns about her impartiality, though he also said he found her credible. The potential juror called Trump a "racist, sexist narcissist" among other strong language in social media posts. The posts appeared to be old. The judge referred to posts from nearly eight years ago.

On questioning, the potential juror said she would "withdraw the term racist," and she felt she should apologize for some of the tone of her posts. She said she does have some strong feelings about the politics of that time, and understood the defense's concern, but also believed at her core "that everybody is entitled to a fair trial."

I don't think that we need to "take a chance with this juror," Merchan said. "Those were pretty strong views that she expressed."

– Aysha Bagchi

She called him a 'racist, sexist narcissist': Trump lawyer asks judge to strike potential juror

Another small batch of potential jurors who have been through questioning are going through the final steps of the selection process. Trump lawyer Susan Necheles has asked Judge Juan Merchan to strike one of the candidates based on social media posts in her past.

"These posts are vitriol," Necheles said. "She harbors a deep hatred of him."

She called him a "racist, sexist narcissist," Necheles added. Necheles said one post suggested Trump was a liar, which Necheles said wasn't appropriate for a juror who would be judging Trump's veracity or failure to tell the truth. Necheles added that the potential juror said Trump was "anathema" to everything the woman was taught about love and other values.

The woman has been called in for additional questioning.

– Aysha Bagchi

Two new jurors selected for jury in Trump hush money trial, replacing lost spots

After the prosecution and defense teams had the chance to use their own against potential jurors – essentially vetoes to having someone on the jury – two new jurors have been selected. They will take the seats of the two individuals who were selected for the jury on Tuesday but then excused earlier on Thursday.

– Aysha Bagchi

Judge rejects defense request for judge to strike potential juror with Trump legal team connection

Judge Juan Merchan denied a request from Trump lawyer Susan Necheles to strike a potential juror who said she met Necheles about 15 years ago through her husband. The man married to the potential juror and Necheles were both lawyers at the time, the potential juror said, adding that the couple went and stayed at Necheles' house.

Necheles pushed for the potential juror to be removed. Necheles described knowing the husband well.

“She doesn’t really know you,” Merchan said, speaking of the potential juror.

– Aysha Bagchi

Potential juror dismissed by judge

The judge said he would excuse a potential juror after Trump's legal team noted the potential juror had herself raised questions about her ability to be impartial and prosecutors acceded to her being excluded as a candidate for the jury.

– Aysha Bagchi

Trump legal team is making arguments for judge striking potential jurors

Trump's legal team is making arguments about why they think the judge should himself strike potential jurors from being candidates for the jury based on concerns about their ability to be impartial.

– Aysha Bagchi

How many jurors need to be selected in Donald Trump's hush money case?

Twelve jurors and several alternates will need to be selected. Forty-eight potential jurors brought in Thursday morning were excused after saying they couldn't be impartial in the case and another nine were excused for other reasons.

– Aysha Bagchi

Trump lawyer ends questioning of potential jurors

Trump lawyer Susan Necheles finished her questioning of the potential jurors who have been answering questions from the jury box. The lawyers are now conferring. We could have more jurors selected soon.

– Aysha Bagchi

Entrepreneurial potential juror voices admiration for Trump

One potential juror expressed admiration for Trump. "He was our president," the man said. "Pretty amazing." The potential juror also said Trump made history.

The man said he himself started as an entrepreneur and made a lot of things happen, "just like he has," referring to Trump. Trump lawyer Susan Necheles responded, "I appreciate that."

– Aysha Bagchi

Potential juror calls Donald Trump 'very selfish and self-serving"

Donald Trump is leaning forward in his chair, watching the jurors intently, as his lawyer Susan Necheles asks potential jurors if they have strong opinions about him.

"I don't have strong opinions about him, but I don't like his persona," one potential juror just said. When pressed, the potential juror added that Trump is just "very selfish and self-serving." She said she doesn't really appreciate that in any public servant and that it's not her "cup of tea."

– Aysha Bagchi

Trump chuckles as potential juror says she saw him and ex-wife

Former President Donald Trump chuckled as a potential juror said she once saw him with his former wife, Marla Maples, shopping for baby things. The potential jurors are being questioned by Trump lawyer Susan Necheles.

– Aysha Bagchi

Trump lawyer Susan Necheles begins questioning potential jurors

Trump lawyer Susan Necheles has begun questioning potential jurors. She asks them if anyone has a problem being able to believe a witness is lying.

– Aysha Bagchi

Prosecutor tells jury candidates: No one's going to testify that Trump said, 'Hey, let's falsify business records' 

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said probably the #1 quality his team looks for in a jury is "common sense." That, he said, means examining what the facts are and what logical inferences can be drawn from those facts.

Steinglass went on to say that no witness will get on the stand and testify Mr. Trump said, "Hey, let's falsify business records," let's commit fraud, let's pull the wool over the eyes of Americans.

Trump's legal team made an objection to the comment, which Judge Merchan overruled.

– Aysha Bagchi

Jury selection resumes after lunch

Jury selection proceedings have resumed.

Judge Merchan apologized to the potential jurors that the courtroom is cold. He gave them some instructions on how attorneys for both sides will ask them questions, and prosecutor Joshua Steinglass has begun addressing them.

– Aysha Bagchi

Who is Emil Bove?

Emil Bove is one of Trump's criminal defense lawyers, along with Todd Blanche and Susan Necheles. Politico reported he joined the cohort in September 2023.

Bove is a former federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

“Emil is an expert in white collar and CIPA-related litigation and his trial skills are among the best in the business,” Blanche said in a statement provided to Politico.

-Kinsey Crowley

DA Alvin Bragg takes a muted approach

Some prosecutors seek the spotlight. New York Attorney General Letitia James has been trading barbs with Donald Trump, who she has successfully sued for business fraud, for years.

Not Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney who was the first prosecutor to secure an indictment against the former president − or any former president. As Politico New York reports, "he appears to be a reluctant participant in his own narrative, avoiding interviews and declining to discuss the Trump case in public settings."

“I only talk about that matter in court filings and in the court. That’s what we do,” Bragg told the outlet last week.

-Ben Adler

Who are Donald Trump's lawyers?

Trump's defense team is led by Todd Blanche and Susan Necheles.

Blanche was a federal prosecutor for nine years in the Southern District of New York, which includes Manhattan. As a prominent white-collar defense lawyer he has defended Trump advisor Boris Epshteyn and Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

Necheles is ranked among the top criminal defense lawyers in New York by the legal rating and head-hunting firm Chambers and Partners. She was also a former counsel to Venero Mangano, the former Genovese crime family underboss known as Benny Eggs.

-Josh Meyer

Jury selection breaks for lunch, returning at 2:15 p.m. ET

Judge Merchan broke for lunch after 18 potential jurors either responded to the full jury questionnaire or were excused. Merchan instructed the potential jurors to be ready at 2:15 p.m. ET, and that they would proceed with individualized questioning by lawyers from both sides.

– Aysha Bagchi

Potential juror who associates Donald Trump with Silvio Berlusconi excused

A potential juror from Italy was excused after he said he had previously seen Italian media that made associations between Trump and former Italian media mogul and prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The potential juror said it was hard as he was sitting there in the courtroom to maintain impartiality. Judge Merchan excused him.

– Aysha Bagchi

Who is Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg?

Last year, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg became the first prosecutor to secure a criminal indictment against a former president.

In 2022, Bragg's office won convictions against two parts of the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg for a tax avoidance scheme.

The Harlem native earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University and became an assistant state attorney general and an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York before being elected district attorney in 2021.

Bragg, a Democrat, campaigned as an avid criminal justice reformer. Trump has tried to portray him as uninterested in combatting street crime. Bragg's office notes that violent crime has dropped in the borough during his tenure, however.

-Bart Jansen

Who is Stormy Daniels and what is her real name?

Stormy Daniels, born Stephanie Clifford, is an adult film star.

Daniels claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006, months after Melania Trump gave birth to Barron Trump. Michael Cohen paid her $130,000 to stay quiet about the alleged affair ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

-Kinsey Crowley

Potential jurors resume responding to jury questionnaire

We have now resumed hearing potential jurors answering each of the 42 questions.

The first potential juror speaking as we return is an attorney who said on occasion she watches Fox News just to try to see what's going on on all sides, but more regularly gets her news from The New York Times, CNN, Google, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

– Aysha Bagchi

Two dismissed jurors leaves only five people on jury so far

Thursday was meant to be a day moving forward toward seating a full jury for Trump's hush money case. And new potential jurors have answered preliminary questions this morning.

But progress has also reversed: we are down to five selected jurors. To get to opening statements in the case, 12 jurors plus several alternates are needed.

– Aysha Bagchi

Juror #4 is excused

Judge Merchan said he is directing that Juror #4 be excused. The man is no longer expected to show up on Monday.

– Aysha Bagchi

Juror #4 brought back into courtroom

Juror #4 has been brought back into the courtroom and taken to the judge's bench, where Merchan and lawyers from both sides are standing.

– Aysha Bagchi

Lawyers discussing Juror #4 with judge

After briefly leaving the courtroom, Judge Merchan returned and described having had a conference at the bench with Juror #4. Merchan said some of the information shared was very personal and the judge was going to direct that portion of the published transcript be sealed. "I will also note for the record that he expressed annoyance" at how information about him had gotten out there in the public, the judge added, speaking about the juror.

Merchan then asked the attorneys if they had talked about what to do about the juror. Lawyers from both sides approached the judge's bench and are having private discussion there.

– Aysha Bagchi

Visiting a bodega, hosting a foreign leader: Trump campaigns in New York during trial

While attending jury selection in the New York hush money trial this week, Donald Trump is finding ways to promote his presidential campaign through a campaign-style visit to a Harlem bodega, a meeting with Poland’s president and a planned rally in North Carolina.

At the bodega, the scene of a fatal stabbing in 2022, Trump railed Tuesday against crime despite a drop in violent crime statistics. He criticized Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over his case, and the prosecutor, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

The former president hosted Poland’s President Andrzej Duda at Trump Tower on Wednesday, saying he’s “done a fantastic job.”

Trump plans a political rally Saturday in Wilmington, N.C., a key swing state.

--Bart Jansen

Selected Juror #4 leaves courtroom, attorneys to confer

Selected Juror #4 was interviewed at the judge's bench, although the content of the discussion couldn't be heard. Trump lawyer Todd Blanche chuckled at the juror's first answers. After the conversation ended, the juror was escorted out of the courtroom by court officers.

Judge Merchan said he would give the lawyers a few minutes to talk about it.

– Aysha Bagchi

How is Trump Media stock price?

At open on April 18, Trump Media & Technology Group Corp share price fell to $25.82, down 2.2% from previous close.

-Kinsey Crowley

When is Trump's Georgia trial?

Donald Trump faces 10 criminal counts in Georgia related to alleged election interference.

His trial in the Peach State hasn't been scheduled yet, but it will be televised, making it the only of Trump's four criminal cases to be broadcast.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis proposed to start the trial Aug. 5, but that would mean the potentially five-month trial would be running on Election Day.

Bart Jansen & Kinsey Crowley

Selected Juror #4 arrives for possible questioning

Selected Juror #4, about whom questions were asked earlier this morning, has come into the courtroom and up to the bench to talk to Judge Merchan. The man was one of seven jurors chosen Tuesday to serve throughout the trial, although one of those seven was excused earlier this morning.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said earlier today there are questions about whether the man was truthful in responding to a question about whether he or anyone close to him had been accused of a crime.

– Aysha Bagchi

What is voir dire?

Voir dire is the process of questioning potential jurors to see if they are suitable to sit on the jury. The judge and attorneys on both legal teams ask jurors questions to see if they can be fair and impartial in the case.

Kinsey Crowley

Court takes short break in jury selection

The court is taking a short break in jury selection. So far, eight potential jurors have responded orally to the 42 questions on the jury questionnaire.

– Aysha Bagchi

Trump appears attentive as potential jurors respond to questions

Former President Donald Trump appears to be giving his full attention to each potential juror responding to a set of 42 preliminary questions on a jury questionnaire. The questions include whether prospective jurors have been the victim of a crime, whether they have read Trump's books, and where they get their news.

In previous jury selection sessions, Trump has sometimes held a copy of the questionnaire and read along, as jurors read the questions silently and responded orally. Multiple reporters also said they have previously seen him falling asleep.

Today he has largely been sitting with his chair pushed back and turned toward the jury box.

– Aysha Bagchi

Former US President Donald Trump attends his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on April 18, 2024. Trump's criminal trial resumes Thursday with Judge Juan Merchan seeking to complete jury selection. Moving the US into uncharted waters, it is the first criminal trial of a former US president, one who is also battling to retake the White House in November. (Photo by Brendan McDermid / POOL / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN MCDERMID/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Trump has brief exchange with court security officer

Former President Donald Trump called over a court security officer and appeared to ask him something, starting with "excuse me." It was a brief exchange while potential jurors answer preliminary questions.

– Aysha Bagchi

Potential juror participated in Women's March

A potential juror responding to the 42 initial questions that are individually posed to potential jurors said she had discussed the case with co-workers. She said "it's hard to unring the bell," but she did give the judge her assurance that she would follow his instructions on the law and base her decision on the evidence introduced in the courtroom.

She said she has discussed the book of former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz in the Manhattan D.A.'s office, "People vs. Donald Trump." Pomerantz resigned from the office in 2022 while voicing criticism of the failure to seek an indictment against Trump. Trump was later indicted in 2023.

The potential juror also said she had participated in the Women's March, which was a protest after Trump was elected president.

Aysha Bagchi

18 potential jurors randomly selected to enter the jury box for questioning

18 potential jurors of those remaining in the courtroom were randomly selected to enter the jury box, with their assigned numbers being called, to respond to the 42 questions on the jury questionnaire Judge Juan Merchan decided on in advance of trial.

– Aysha Bagchi

9 additional potential jurors excused for other reasons

Another nine potential jurors were excused after indicating they couldn't serve on the jury for reasons other than the inability to be fair and impartial.

– Aysha Bagchi

About 48 potential jurors excused after saying they can't be fair and impartial

Approximately 48 potential jurors were excused from a batch of about 96 Thursday after saying they couldn't be fair and impartial in the case. That compares with at least 50 from a similar batch who were excused at the same point in the process earlier this week.

– Aysha Bagchi

Trump lawyers ask for delay in federal classified documents case because of New York trial

Donald Trump’s lawyers have asked for a delay in filing written arguments in his classified documents case in Florida until three weeks after the New York hush money trial ends because the same lawyers are working on both cases.

Trump faces federal charges in Florida that he retained national defense records at his Mar-a-Lago resort. His lawyers, Todd Blanche and Emil Bove, who specializes in classified documents, have a May 9 deadline to file arguments about expert testimony and evidence in the case.

But Blanche and Bove are choosing jurors in New York for his trial on charges he falsified business records to hide hush payments to a porn star before the 2016 election.

The requirement to discuss filings in the classified records case only in a secure facility is “a virtually impossible task” during the New York trial, the lawyers wrote.

Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith argued against a delay because the the lawyers have had months to prepare. But Trump’s lawyers called the argument “untethered to reality.”

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon haven’t ruled on the request.

--Bart Jansen

Prospective jurors currently being excused from service

Judge Juan Merchan asked the new large batch of potential jurors to indicate if they can't be fair and impartial. Many are being excused from service now. In a previous batch of about 96 potential jurors, at least 50 were excused based on their responses to this initial question.

– Aysha Bagchi

New large group of potential jurors brought in

A new group of dozens of potential jurors has been brought in to start their jury selection process. Judge Merchan is asking them whether they personally know any of several potential witnesses or people tied to the case.

– Aysha Bagchi

Issue raised about selected Juror #4 

After the judge excused selected Juror #2 from jury service Thursday morning, he explained there is a possible issue with selected Juror #4.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass then explained the prosecution still isn't sure if the issue actually involves Juror #4. They discovered an article stating that a person with the same name had been arrested in the 1990s for tearing down political advertisements. Steinglass said it also seemed the juror's wife was involved in a corruption inquiry that ended with her entering into an agreement with the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

Steinglass noted one of the questions on the jury questionnaire asks whether the potential juror or anyone close to the person has been accused or arrested for a crime. If in fact either of the issues actually does involve this juror or his wife, that would suggest his answer to the question wasn't accurate, Steinglass said.

 – Aysha Bagchi

Trump lawyer defends former president's posts

Trump lawyer Emil Bove disputed that the Trump posts the prosecution brought up Thursday morning violated the judge's gag order, and said the Trump team will be explaining their argument more fully in a written filing. Bove said former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has been attacking Trump, and that Merchan had previously said the gag order didn't prevent Trump from responding to political attacks.

– Aysha Bagchi

Prosecutor says Trump has violated judge's gag order seven more times

Prosecutor Christopher Conroy told Judge Juan Merchan that former President Donald Trump has violated the judge's gag order seven more times, in addition to three alleged violations Conroy brought to the judge's attention earlier this week. Conroy wants the new alleged violations added to what's addressed at a hearing next Tuesday on the issue.

Some of the alleged new violations involve former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who could be a key witness in the case. Another was a post by Trump on Truth Social appearing to quote Fox News host Jesse Watters, stating: “They are catching undercover Liberal Activists lying to the Judge in order to get on the Trump Jury."

Conroy said that while the prosecution still supports fining Trump, they are still considering their options, as far as the Tuesday hearing goes, in terms of what sanctions they will recommend Trump face. Earlier in the week, the prosecution asked Merchan to warn Trump that future violations could result in jail time.

– Aysha Bagchi

Candidate Trump meets with president of Poland during trial's off-day

Trump staged another campaign-within-a-trial event Wednesday night, this one a foreign policy gig: A meeting with Poland President Andrzej Duda.

"We're behind Poland all the way," Trump told reporters as he greeted Duda at Trump Tower.

The Trump campaign is lining up a series of campaign events in and around the hush money trial, including Tuesday's visit to a bodega in Harlem to discuss the crime issue, and to protest the judge and prosecutors.

On Saturday, Trump is scheduled to host a political rally in Wilmington, N.C.

-David Jackson

Judge directs press covering Trump trial not to report identifying information about jurors

"I'm directing the press" to refrain from writing about anything that you observe with your eyes or hear with your ears related to jurors, Judge Juan Merchan said Thursday morning, after dismissing Juror #2 from jury service.

Merchan specifically instructed the press not to report potential jurors' answers to two questions on the jury questionnaire asking who the individual's employer is and how large the employer is.

– Aysha Bagchi

Selected juror for Donald Trump's trial is excused from jury service

Judge Juan Merchan excused Juror #2, who was selected on Tuesday. "I definitely have concerns now," the juror said upon questioning Thursday morning. She said one of her concerns is that aspects of her identity were now out there in the public. On Wednesday she had friends and colleagues sending things to her phone questioning her identity as a juror. She said she doesn't believe at this point she can be fair and unbiased, and not let outside influences affect her judgment in the courtroom.

– Aysha Bagchi

Judge says there is an issue with a selected juror

Judge Juan Merchan opened proceedings Thursday by saying Juror #2, one of the seven jurors selected Tuesday, called Wednesday voicing concerns about her ability to be fair and impartial in case. The juror is being brought in for questioning.

– Aysha Bagchi

Trump hit with series of setbacks in first two trial days

A lot was rough for Trump in his first two trial days.

To start things off Monday, Judge Juan Merchan denied Trump's request for the judge to recuse himself. Merchan later scheduled a hearing for next week over whether Trump violated a gag order and should be warned that future violations could earn him jail time.

On Tuesday, the judge admonished Trump after hearing him commenting while a potential juror was being questioned about a video she posted that featured an anti-Trump event. The judge said juror intimidation wouldn't be tolerated. "Speak to your client," Merchan instructed Trump's lawyer.

Trump also appears unhappy with jury selection, posting on Truth Social Wednesday – a day off in the trial – that his allotted 10 opportunities to exclude potential jurors is "not nearly enough."

That's to say nothing of the fact that multiple reporters said they have seen Trump falling asleep in court.

– Aysha Bagchi

Trump arrives in courtroom

Former President Donald Trump entered the courtroom, accompanied by his lawyers. He waved but didn't comment or take questions.

– Aysha Bagchi

What is Trump on trial for?

Trump,77, faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment he authorized his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to make to porn star Stormy Daniels less than two weeks before the 2016 presidential election. The records falsely indicated that checks to Cohen were for legal services rather than to reimburse him for paying the hush money, according to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office.

Bragg's office alleges the falsification was done to conceal violating federal campaign finance laws and hide a plan to break New York tax and election laws, making the charges felonies rather than misdemeanors.

Trump has pleaded not guilty.– Aysha Bagchi

Where is Melania Trump?

Melania Trump hasn't attended the trial so far.

When she first saw reports in January of 2018 that her husband had paid off a porn star to keep quiet about an alleged affair, she was furious, according to The New York Times. She left Washington for Florida, and took a separate car to her husband's State of the Union address after she returned.

But The New York Times also reported Melania Trump agrees with her husband that the Manhattan trial is unfair. The paper cited several people familiar with her thoughts.

– Aysha Bagchi

Who is Judge Juan Merchan?

New York Judge Juan Merchan who is presiding the first criminal trial in history of a former president, is no stranger to the defendant, Donald Trump.

Merchan presided over a 2022 tax-fraud trial of two parts of the Trump Organization, in which the company’s former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, was convicted for not reporting $1.7 million in benefits, and he sentenced Weisselberg to five months in jail.

Trump has attacked Merchan as biased on the grounds that Merchan's daughter works for a marketing firm with Democratic politicians as clients, and he has twice unsuccessfully moved for Merchan to recuse himself from the case. Merchan has refused, citing the New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics finding that the judge's impartiality couldn't be reasonably questioned based on his daughter's work.

Trump's attacks spurred Merchan to expand a gag order to limit his commentary about the family members of people involved in the trial. On the second day of the trial, Merchan chastised Trump for speaking to prospective jurors.

Merchan has been a felony judge for 15 years.

-Bart Jansen

Potential witnesses in Trump’s hush money trial

•   Stormy Daniels: Daniels claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006, months after Melania Trump gave birth to Barron Trump. Michael Cohen paid her $130,000 to stay quiet about the alleged affair ahead of the 2016 presidential election.1

•  Karen McDougal: McDougal indirectly received a hush money payment in 2016 after claiming to have an affair with Donald Trump. Cohen funneled the money through the National Enquirer under a "catch and kill" approach, paying the tabloid to buy rights to her story and prevent her from telling anyone else about it. Merchan has ruled she can be called to the witness stand, even though Trump’s charges are not related to her hush money.

•   Michael Cohen: Cohen paid a combined $280,000 to silence two women in 2016. "Everything was done with the knowledge and at the direction of Mr. Trump," Cohen has testified under oath at a House hearing.

•  Hope Hicks: The former press secretary may have been in touch with Cohen about preventing Daniels from going public with her story, court records show. Hicks's lawyer has previously denied her involvement in the hush money payments.

Kinsey Crowley

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump trial day 3 recap: All 12 jurors selected in hush money case