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Gaming the Trump Trial: Clink Questions, Legal Bills & Mistrial Potential

donald trump
During opening statements, prosecutors spoke about Donald Trump’s $130,000 hush money deal with porn star Stormy Daniels back in 2016, describing the payoff as “election fraud, pure and simple.” Photo: Jabin Botsford-Pool/Getty Images
Eriq Gardner
April 22, 2024

This morning, the historic first criminal trial of a former U.S. president got underway on the 15th floor of New York County Supreme Court, in Lower Manhattan, with Judge Juan Merchan presiding. During opening statements, prosecutors spoke about Donald Trump’s $130,000 hush money deal with porn star Stormy Daniels back in 2016, describing the payoff as “election fraud, pure and simple.” Matthew Colangelo, the prosecutor, told jurors that Trump conspired with his former attorney Michael Cohen and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker to bury stories of sexual affairs in order to influence the presidential election that year. During his own opening, Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche responded that Trump was innocent, commenting, “I have a spoiler alert: There’s nothing wrong with trying to influence the election. It’s called democracy.”

The six-week trial carries immense and obvious legal and political ramifications. So I caught up with Mathew Rosengart, a partner at Greenberg Traurig, whom I’ve known for years. These days, Rosengart is recognized as a go-to lawyer for celebrities like Sean Penn and Steven Spielberg; his pivotal role in helping free Britney Spears from a conservatorship brought him international recognition. Prior to his tenure as an entertainment and commercial litigator, Rosengart was a federal prosecutor known for handling significant cases during the Bill Clinton years, including the conviction of James Riady, the Indonesian billionaire who funneled massive amounts of money into Democratic Party coffers.