As Trial Looms, Trump Plays to a Jury of Millions

The first criminal trial of Donald J. Trump will begin on Monday, and the 45th president thinks he can win — no matter what the jury decides.Mr. Trump will aim to spin any outcome to his benefit and, if convicted, to become the first felon to win the White House.

Manhattan prosecutors, who have accused Mr. Trump of falsifying records to cover up a sex scandal, hold advantages that include a list of insider witnesses and a jury pool drawn from one of the country’s most liberal counties. Mr. Trump and some aides and lawyers privately concede that a jury is unlikely to outright acquit him, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

So Mr. Trump, the presumptive 2024 Republican nominee, is seeking to write his own reality, telling a story that he believes could pave his return to the White House. He has framed his failed efforts to delay the case as evidence he cannot receive a fair trial, casting himself as a political martyr under attack from the prosecution and the judge.

To pull off an acquittal, he is considering testifying to personally persuade jurors of his innocence.

It would be a rare and risky move for most defendants. But Mr. Trump is putting his own stamp on the role, attacking the district attorney who brought the case, Alvin L. Bragg, with all the power of his bully pulpit. That behavior and its aftershocks are expected to continue throughout a weekslong trial.

Mr. Trump, 77, is deploying the same tactics that made him the singular political figure of the last decade. Since announcing his first presidential candidacy, he has bulldozed through American life, flattening political and cultural norms as he goes. He stunned the world as the insurgent victor in the 2016 election, was twice impeached as president and pushed democracy to the brinkas the incumbent who refused to concede his 2020 election loss.

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