‘There Is So Much at Stake’: Megyn Explains the Ramifications of Donald Trump’s New York Hush Money Trial

Jeenah Moon/Pool Photo via AP

We are looking at a truly unprecedented time in American and world history today with two enormous stories unfolding that will have implications for decades to come. Here at home, we have a criminal trial of a former president of the United States officially underway. Abroad, we witnessed Iran’s first direct attack on Israel.

Trump Stands Trial

After all these years of threats, it finally happened. At 10am ET Monday morning, a clerk inside Manhattan criminal court in New York City called the case of The People of the State of New York v. Donald J. Trump. It is the first criminal trial of former President Donald Trump.

Jury selection is supposed to start today, though the prosecution has spent the morning trying to push to have Trump held in contempt of court for violating, they say, the court’s gag order stopping him from criticizing witnesses. Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen was all over MSNBC this weekend criticizing Trump, but, because of this judge’s gag order, Trump cannot say anything about Michael Cohen. See, that’s how it works?

I’ve been following the developments on this ongoing saga since the hush money story first broke in 2018. I remember sitting on the set at NBC. It happened to be a day I brought my daughter to work with me because she was off from school. She was writing in a little journal while we were discussing the case, and I saw in her diary after the fact that she wrote something like, ‘they’re talking about Donald Trump in his underwear.’ 

Well, this has now made its way into a criminal case. It’s surreal what is happening. Before he went inside the courtroom, Mr. Trump addressed the cameras. He called the trial “an assault on our country” but added that he was “honored to be in court today.”

This court proceedings will not be televised, but that won’t stop the anti-Trump media from making it into a circus. All the breathless reports from outside the courthouse in lower Manhattan this morning will no doubt continue for the next six weeks or longer while this trial takes place. Our friend Mike Davis captured the scene on the ground.

To me, this is a sad and disgusting day. I woke up today feeling unsettled, feeling down about this case. It’s not that I love Trump. As you know, I’m not a Trump lover, but I’m not a Trump derangement person either. I’m sad for our country. And I am sad for Trump that he’s being put through this.

The Case Against Trump

What is he accused of doing? Yes, Stormy Daniels is a porn star, but let’s just be honest about it. He is accused of paying off a lover to keep quiet about an affair and then not writing down in the books, ‘I paid off a lover to keep quiet about my affair.’ They have ginned up that moment into 34 felony counts. 

There is other stuff around it, but – in essence – that’s what this case is about. The prosecution is arguing that Trump not documenting the hush money payment properly in his records is not a misdemeanor but a felony because it was allegedly done to cover up an underlying crime. 

According to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the underlying felony that resurrected the dead claim is a campaign finance violation. But that claim was rejected by feds, who are actually in charge of such prosecutions, as a loser. Why? Because campaign finance officials looked at this and determined that payment to Stormy Daniels was not a campaign finance violation but a man trying to stop his wife from hearing the gory details of an affair. If a payment has any sort of purpose other than to get one elected, it doesn’t come within the realm of campaign finance. 

That’s a law. That’s why the feds said, ‘We’re not interested.’ That’s why this DA’s office initially said, ‘Yeah, we’re not interested either.’ And only when Alvin Bragg – who ran on the promise of how many times he sued Trump and promised to do it again – got at the helm, it became a case. 

I have very low hopes for fairness toward Trump during this trial either by this judge or this jury. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan clearly can’t stand him and shouldn’t be trying the case at all. Meanwhile, if you play the odds, the jury is going to absolutely loathe Donald Trump. He used to be loved when he was just a businessman and full of color and swag, but things change when you get political. We all know that. 

Of all of the ‘get Trump’ efforts, this one is the most offensive. There isn’t even a colorable basis to be bringing this claim. Bragg broke nearly 250 years of precedent and indicted a former president. It is a disgrace. It is a humiliation for us, the United States of America. 

Bragg humiliated himself and he has brought us down with him. It is as if they took someone like Princess Diana and made her into a street whore. That is what Bragg has reduced us to today with this mockery of our legal system. I’m disgusted. I’m disheartened. It’s a dark day for America, and Alvin Bragg ought to be ashamed of himself.

What’s At Stake

I understand what Trump was saying when he said, “I’m proud to be here.” He’s got to spin it. He’s taking this legal bullet and testing the system because he must and also because he is, I’m sure, horrified at what is being done. This case has motivated so many Americans to side with Trump even though they don’t like his personal conduct. They were not going to vote for Trump, but now they will because of this bastardization of the legal system. 

But make no mistake about it: Today could be the game changer in the 2024 presidential election. This is a ‘before and after’ moment for America. If you think I’m kidding, go look at the polls. Half of independents and a third of Republicans say Trump being a convicted felon changes their vote. Do they mean it? We don’t know. But what if they do mean it?

It is not going to be hard for Alvin Bragg to get a conviction with a New York City jury. It is not 100 percent guaranteed, but it is not going to be difficult. That could make the difference in an electorate already somewhat on the fence about whether they want Trump. That is the goal as this now officially gets underway. 

What happens today will certainly have an effect on Trump’s personal life and potentially his freedom, though I doubt they will put him behind bars for it. And it will also have an effect on the future of this country – the border, healthcare, the economy, fairness in girls sports, due process for men on college campuses, national security, our policy toward Israel, the Middle East, and Ukraine, where we spend our dollars and cents, what the future look like.

All of this potentially lies in the balance here. There is so much at stake. 

You can check out Megyn’s full analysis by tuning in to episode 766 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.