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Trump's hush-money trial is set to heat up

Dan DeFrancesco   

Trump's hush-money trial is set to heat up
  • This post originally appeared in the Insider Today newsletter.

Good morning. An Israeli strike hit Iran on Thursday night, per multiple reports that cited US officials. Israel has not claimed responsibility for the strike.

In today's newsletter, we're looking at the first week of former President Donald Trump's criminal trial and what's at stake.

What's on deck:

But first, let's head to the courtroom.

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The big story

A Presidential trial

A former US president and a porn star walk into a courtroom.

What sounds like the start of a joke is a soon-to-be reality.

Former President Donald Trump's hush-money trial — the first-ever criminal trial of a former president — got underway this week with jury selection.

Despite the historical relevance, so far it's been a bit of a snooze. Literally. Trump appeared to nod off in court. Meanwhile, keeping jurors on the case became a bit of a problem before 12 were ultimately chosen yesterday.

We did get a preview of Trump's potential defense: "Some accountant" handled the paperwork he's on trial for, Trump told reporters. And there have been some great courtroom sketches.

However, things are set to heat up in the coming weeks.

The trial is focused on 34 felonies alleging the Trump Organization's business records were falsified to hide other crimes. That might not seem spicy. But prosecutors say some books were cooked, in part, to hide a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

That means Daniels will eventually take the stand and likely testify that she had sex with Trump in 2006.

How Trump, who has steadfastly denied there was a sexual encounter, reacts will be interesting to see. The former president has previously been reprimanded for his courtroom outbursts.

The trial is expected to take about six weeks, wrapping up in late May or early June.

Trump's legal team still has appeals underway regarding the case. But a mid-trial stoppage would be highly unlikely, according to legal experts.

So, barring a hung jury, that basically leaves one of two outcomes:

Trump gets acquitted. From a legal perspective, this would be the least complicated. But a win in the hush-money trial doesn't mean Trump is out of the woods. He faces three other criminal trials related to the 2020 election and the holding of classified documents, all of which are still in the indictment stage.

Trump is found guilty on some or all charges. Here's where things get tricky.

Trump will almost certainly appeal the conviction. In the meantime, there is nothing in the Constitution preventing a convicted felon from running for president. In fact, it's happened before, but both candidates were longshots.

Still, Trump might not be able to vote for himself come November. Convicted felons in Florida, where Trump is registered to vote, are disenfranchised until after completing their sentences.

Which gets to the bigger question: Could Trump actually see jail time?

Trump's campaign is suggesting as much, texting supporters that he "could be locked up for life." But legal experts Business Insider spoke to said the former president likely won't spend time behind bars.

But if Trump did go to jail and won November's election…

No one seems to know how a sitting US president could run the country from a jail cell. And while Trump could pardon himself as president, that only applies to federal crimes and has never been done before.

3 things in markets

  1. The Fed wants you to know it will not be rushed into a rate cut. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said the central bank's policy will eventually loosen up, "but we don't have to do that in a hurry." New York Fed President John Williams is in a similar boat: "I definitely don't feel an urgency to cut interest rates."

  2. Speaking of annoyingly high rates… Mortgage rates have spiked above 7% again. That coincides with the housing market screeching to a halt, as March saw the largest monthly drop in existing home sales in over a year.

  3. These six stocks are set to benefit from the AI data center boom. It takes massive data centers to train and distribute large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT for public use. Bank of America highlighted six stocks to buy if you're looking to take advantage of the trend.

3 things in tech

  1. Meet Y Combinator's newest group partner. David Lieb, the man who led Google Photos to 1 billion users, is stepping into the role. His move comes after a year and a half of advising at the startup accelerator.

  2. Google just made a huge company shakeup. CEO Sundar Pichai announced a series of reorgs in an effort to move faster in AI. As a result, Demis Hassabis, Google's DeepMind chief, has gained more power, and the head of Pixel will also oversee Android.

  3. Is tech dealmaking back? Bankers and venture capitalists nibbled on caviar sushi and sipped champagne and sake at the closing dinner of the Jefferies Private Investor Conference, BI's Ben Bergman writes. There was talk of a comeback for IPOs and M&As, and plenty of buzz about generative AI being a new catalyst for rising tech valuations.

3 things in business

  1. ALICEs abound. More Americans are becoming ALICEs, an acronym for asset-limited, income-constrained, and employed. The growing demographic earns too much to qualify for government assistance but not enough to afford daily life.

  2. Samsung execs reportedly got a schedule change — and not a fun one. Executives now have to work six days a week, according to the Korea Economic Daily. It's a shift into "emergency mode," brought on by economic headwinds and underwhelming 2023 results.

  3. Netflix's password-sharing crackdown is working. The streaming giant added more than 9 million subscribers over the first quarter, smashing Wall Street's expectations. That bodes well for Disney and Warner Bros., which plan to follow suit later this year. But Netflix's shares still tumbled in premarket trading after it posted a disappointing revenue outlook.

In other news

What's happening today

  • Today's earnings: American Express, Procter & Gamble, and other companies are reporting.

  • Taylor Swift's new album, "The Tortured Poets Department," is released.

  • Bitcoin's fourth halving is expected as early as today.

The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, deputy editor and anchor, in New York. Jordan Parker Erb, editor, in New York. Hallam Bullock, senior editor, in London. George Glover, reporter, in London.

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