What people did wrong this week: the myth of Donald Trump's trial

For the first time in U.S. history, there is a defendant in a felony trial, and with it comes misinformation, rumors and fake news from the Trump trial. Here are some quick fact-checks of the many dubious claims that emerged from the trial.

Donald Trump farts in court

I'll start with the most important claim: Donald Trump farted so much in the courtroom and stunk so bad that it made half of Manhattan stink. Despite what many people say, the fart rumor has a shaky origin. It comes from an X post by Ben Meiselas of the anti-Trump organization Meidas Touch, who writes, "What I'm hearing from reliable sources is that Donald Trump is actually farting in court ...... I'm hearing from really reliable people that. He's about to fall asleep and he's actually farting and his lawyers are having a really hard time tolerating the odor." While absolutely hilarious, it's not enough for second-hand reports from political opponents to be considered "reliable sources" and "really reliable people." That said, he's an old guy with a reportedly terrible diet and everyone farts, so it's not out of the question that Trump will fart in court in the future.

Verdict: not confirmed

Trump on trial for paying hush money

Farting no longer gets in the way, so let's get down to the legalities. Despite the case being widely described as a "hush money" trial, Donald Trump was not charged with 34 felonies for paying adult actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 not to talk about an extramarital affair. There's nothing illegal about paying someone to keep quiet about having sex with you. Instead, Trump was charged with falsifying business records related to hush money. But it gets more nuanced because falsifying business records in New York may be charged as a misdemeanor, but according to the prosecution, Trump's actions rise to the level of multiple felonies because Trump falsified business records to cover up another, more serious crime.

Conclusion: wrong

"All legal scholars say this case is nonsense."

Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed on his social media accounts and in lengthy daily pre-trial news articles that "every legal scholar says this case is nonsense." This is a dubious assertion even if we substitute "most" for "every." But some legal scholars do see problems with the case. In an op-ed published in The New York Times this week , Boston University law professor Jed Handelsman Shugerman expressed concern that Trump's alleged underlying crime of felony record-forgery is a federal crime, and therefore that prosecutor Bragg is actually using state law to prosecute a federal crime. If what Shugerman says is correct, then this is not a slam dunk case, any more than the question is "Did Donald Trump pay a porn star not to talk about having sex with him?"

Verdict: Mixed bag

Joe Biden was behind the indictment.

Another of Trump's oft-repeated lines is that this trial (and the rest of his trials) are under the direction of President Biden, or as Trump put it at Truth Society, "Biden's Justice Department is trying the case." There is no evidence that Biden's Justice Department is taking any action related to this case. In reality, the case is being tried by prosecutor Alvin Bragg, an elected state official who does not report to the federal government.

Conclusion: error

Judge Macon won't allow Trump to attend his children's graduations

Trump's legal team requested a May 17 recess so Trump could attend Barron Trump's graduation. Judge Juan M. Merchan, who has yet to rule on the request, said, "It really depends on how well we finish on time and how the trial goes." Still, Trump told reporters, "It doesn't look like the judge is going to let me go to my son's graduation," and "I can't go to my son's graduation."

Conclusion: wrong

In any case, Donald Trump has yet to attend any of his children's graduations

After Trump's post about not being able to attend his son's graduation, random people at X and elsewhere claimed that he's never attended another child's graduation. This is not true. Snopes looked into this and found that Trump appeared at the high school and college graduations of Don Jr, Eric, Ivanka, and Tiffany Trump.

Conclusion: wrong

Various other things Trump has said about the case

It would take a long time to debunk the many false assertions Trump has made about this criminal case (and his other criminal cases, his civil cases, and all the others), but here are some of the major themes: the judge was biased against him. The judge's daughter hates him. The judge's gag order means he's "not allowed to speak." George Soros has ties to the prosecution. The jury was rigged. You get the picture. None of these things are true, in the general sense: Donald Trump lies all the time.

Conclusion: wrong

Donald Trump fell asleep in court

Donald Trump may not have been farting all the way through his trial, but he sure has been sleeping. According to prominent sources within the courtroom, Trump fell asleep multiple times during jury selection. The New York Times' Maggie Haberman initially reported that "Trump appeared to be sleeping," a claim supported by Courthouse News reporter Eric Ubelack, Law360's Stuart Bishop, and others in the room.

Conclusion: correct

During his rendezvous with Stormy Daniels, Donald Trump requested "a pizza with a smaller top."

While it is possible to purchase pizzas with smaller pizzas on them, Donald Trump did not call room service after having sex with Stormy Daniels and say, "I want a pizza, and I want the toppings on the pizza to be smaller pizzas, like the size of pepperoni, but they're actually totally pizzas, they're just small. " It was a joke. While Trump does eat pizza with a knife and fork, according to Daniels, he did tell Stormy Daniels that her nose looked like a beet and said, "I hope all the sharks die."

Conclusion: wrong.