© Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFPFormer US President Donald Trump waves as he departs Trump Tower for Manhattan Criminal Court, to attend the first day of his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, in New York City on April 15, 2024.
Jury selection has begun for a trial at which former US President Donald Trump stands accused of falsifying records related to hush-money payments to a porn star during the 2016 election. Trump becomes the first former president to stand trial on criminal charges.

Twelve jurors, along with six alternates, will be chosen from among hundreds of New Yorkers. The judge in the case has released the extensive questionnaire that potential jurors will have to fill out.

"Nothing like this has ever happened before," Trump told reporters outside the courtroom, calling the trial "political persecution" and "an assault on America."

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, charged Trump last year with 34 counts of "falsifying business records," alleging that the Republican politician sought "to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election."

The case is based on claims by Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, that he paid $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, so she would keep quiet about an alleged affair with him. Trump has denied any relationship with Daniels. In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to charges of campaign-finance violations, tax and bank fraud, and spent two and a half years in a federal prison. He also lost his New York bar license.

Judge Juan Merchan has granted Bragg's request for a gag order, meaning that Trump can't criticize the prosecutor or his staff.

The trial will keep Trump at the Manhattan courtroom every day of the proceedings for the next six weeks or more, effectively taking him off the campaign. Trump was the 45th president of the US (2017-2021) and is currently the presumptive Republican nominee to challenge President Joe Biden in November.