Only one-third of Americans say they think Donald Trump acted illegally in hush money case

Nearly one-third of American adults said they believe Donald Trump acted illegally in the hush money case, as jury selection in the first criminal trial of a sitting or former president is underway, according to a new poll.

Mr Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection to so-called hush money payments given to adult film star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence over an alleged affair. She said the affair occurred in 2006, just one year after Mr Trump married Melania.

He has pleaded not guilty and has repeatedly denied that the affair ever happened.

On top of this, if a jury found Mr Trump guilty in the hush money case, 50 per cent of Americans would not consider him fit for office, the AP-NORC poll showed.

A separate poll has found that most voters think Mr Trump committed serious federal crimes.

As many as 53 per cent of survey respondents said in the New York Times/Siena College poll that Mr Trump has committed serious crimes while 39 per cent said he has not and nine per cent said they were unsure or declined to give an answer.

Ninety per cent of Democrats said Mr Trump has committed serious crimes, while 17 per cent of Republicans said the same. Forty-nine per cent of independents agreed with the statement.

In the poll, Mr Biden is closing in on Mr Trump, who has been ahead of the president in recent surveys.

The poll was conducted between 7 and 11 April, and Mr Trump is now just a single percentage point ahead – 46 to 45 per cent, with eight per cent saying they’re unsure or declining to answer the question.

Jury selection is now underway for the second day of the criminal case in New York City. No jurors were selected after the first day of the trial.

In the AP-NORC poll, only 31 per cent say they are “very confident” that the former president has been treated fairly by New York prosecutors. Mr Trump has repeatedly claimed that the hush money case has been politically motivated.

He bookended his court appearance on the first day of the criminal trial by spewing this rhetoric. When he arrived on Monday, he described the hush money trial as “an assault on America” and when he left, he called the case a “political witch hunt”.

This one-third statistic comes in stark contrast to the nearly half of US adults who believe he did something illegal in the three other criminal trials that the former president is facing, the poll revealed.

These three trials include the Georgia election interference case, the classified documents case, and his alleged effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

In these cases, if Mr Trump were convicted, more than half of American adults think he would be unfit for office, the poll said.

Like the hush money trial, only 31 per cent said they were “very confident” that he was treated fairly in the Georgia and federal cases.

In the Georgia case, Mr Trump’s lawyers have worked to try to remove Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis from the case, alleging she engaged in misconduct by hiring Nathan Wade, her once-romantic partner, as a prosecutor on the case. After weeks of hearings over the matter, a judge ruled that Ms Willis could remain on the case, so long as Mr Wade was removed.

Mr Trump has also lodged attacks against Jack Smith, the special prosecutor handling the federal cases against the former president. He has called Mr Smith “deranged” while branding the federal cases that Mr Smith is leading as a “coordinated hoax” and “prosecutorial misconduct”.

The latest poll numbers seem to showcase how Mr Trump’s public statements have impacted public sentiment about the many cases against the former president.