A former lawyer in the Biden Justice Department delivered the prosecution’s opening argument Monday in a Manhattan courthouse as the first criminal trial of former President Donald Trump got underway. 

“This case is about a criminal conspiracy and a coverup,” former acting U.S. Associate Attorney General Matthew Colangelo, senior counsel to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, told the jury.

Bragg, an elected Democrat, secured a 34-felony count indictment against Trump alleging that he falsified business records regarding supposed hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Gregory Clifford. 

Among other things, the indictment alleges Trump was seeking to cover up a potential federal campaign finance violation, which the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission previously reviewed before dismissing the payments as a campaign matter. 

“The defendant, Donald Trump, orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election,” Colangelo continued in his opening statement, Politico reported. “Then, he covered up that conspiracy in his business records by lying over and over and over again.”

Colangelo became acting associate attorney general under Attorney General Merrick Garland on Jan. 20, 2021, Joe Biden’s first day as president. Bragg announced Colangelo’s hiring in December 2022. 

Bragg secured the grand jury indictment against Trump in April 2023. Colangelo also previously worked for the New York Attorney General’s Office in its investigation of Trump. 

Biden, a Democrat, defeated Trump, the incumbent Republican, in the 2020 presidential election. Trump has a lock on the GOP nomination to take on Biden again in November.

Critics of this prosecution of the former president point to Colangelo’s ties to the Biden administration

For his part, Trump accused Biden of pushing the so-called hush money case as well as his other court cases. 

“I just want to say these are all Biden trials. This is done as election interference. Everybody knows it,” Trump told reporters outside the courtroom in New York City. 

“I’m here instead of being able to be in Pennsylvania and Georgia and lots of other places campaigning, and it’s very unfair,” Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said. “Fortunately, the poll numbers are very good. They’ve been going up because people understand what is going on.”

“This is a witch hunt. It is a shame and it comes out of Washington,” the former president said. “It is in coordination with Washington, everything, including the DA’s office.”

As noted in my book “Abuse of Power,” which chronicles the beginning of anti-Trump lawfare, while Trump was president many congressional Democrats and progressive commentators advocated using the Stormy Daniels case as grounds for impeaching Trump. 

David Pecker, former publisher of the National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., was the only witness called and reportedly took the stand for just over 20 minutes. Pecker was expected to return to testify again. 

“We used checkbook journalism and we paid for stories,” Pecker said of the National Enquirer in his testimony, NBC News reported. “I gave a number to the editors that they could not spend more than $10,000 to investigate, produce, or publish a story.” 

The National Enquirer was involved in a plan to “catch and kill” pay for the story of a Daniels-Trump tryst to prevent it from coming out before the 2016 election that made Trump president. 

During his opening argument, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche told jurors: “This sort of thing happens regularly where newspapers make decisions about what to publish, when to publish.” 

Blanche added, “Use your common sense. We’re New Yorkers. It’s why we’re all here.”

Late last week, the prosecution and defense selected 12 jurors and six alternates. 

A New York City jury is likely to find Trump guilty, predicted Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, which founded The Daily Signal in 2014.

“This case is just bogus from start to finish,” von Spakovsky told The Daily Signal earlier this month. “It’s in Manhattan. It’s a Manhattan jury. And I’ll tell you, quite frankly, I think if the DA charged Donald Trump with eating a ham sandwich, the jury would find him guilty.” 

Trump has been indicted in three other criminal cases. Special counsel Jack Smith secured an indictment in Washington, D.C., against Trump for his challenge of the 2020 election outcome. Smith also secured a federal indictment of Trump in Florida over his handling of classified documents after leaving office in January 2021. 

In Georgia, Trump was indicted with over 15 campaign associates for allegedly conspiring to overturn the contest for Georgia’s electoral votes in the 2020 election after Biden won the state.