A Historic Day

A year after Donald Trump was indicted, and after months of legal skirmishes and a torrent of attacks directed at key players in his case, the former president went on trial today.

The 45th president entered a Manhattan courtroom about 9:30 a.m., wearing his trademark red tie, an American flag pin and a pronounced scowl. Moments before, he had given a brief address in the hallway outside the court, denouncing the trial as politically motivated and a “persecution like never before.”

“It’s an assault on America,” he said. “And that’s why I’m very proud to be here.”

Once he was in the courtroom, however, Trump was considerably less voluble, whispering to his lawyers, staring ahead and generally seeming unhappy to be there. (He also, at one point, appeared to nod off.)

He’s probably not the only defendant to have gotten sleepy in a courtroom. But today, even jury duty — an oft-dodged, and sometimes dry-as-dirt civic obligation — had taken on uncommon excitement, with crowds and protesters chanting outside the courthouse at 100 Centre Street as potential jurors walked in, summons in hand.

I had arrived around 6:45 a.m., part of a big New York Times team covering the opening day. Already, anti-Trump demonstrators held handmade signs with the word “Loser” and “Convict Trump Already.”

Trump’s supporters also soon descended. A pickup truck decked out in Trump flags, honking and blasting “Trump 2020,” drove past the courthouse, and the former president’s backers gathered, adorned with red Trump hats and flags, American and otherwise, including one that read “Trump or Death.”

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