Former President Donald Trump’s criminal case was cut short on Monday due to a juror’s scheduled dental appointment. However, both the prosecution and defense gave opening testimonies, and the first witness to the stand, David Pecker, former CEO of American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, was questioned.

The hush money case issued by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg accuses Trump of creating false business records linked to a $130,000 payment intended to prevent adult film actress Stormy Daniels from speaking out over their alleged relationship. The payments were organized by Trump’s previous lawyer, Michael Cohen, just before the 2016 presidential election. Both Cohen and Daniels are protection witnesses in the case.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing he’s accused of in the 34-count indictment.

“I’m the leading candidate ... and this is what they’re trying to take me off the trail for. Checks being paid to a lawyer,” he said, leaving court Monday, per The Associated Press. “It’s a case as to bookkeeping, which is a very minor thing.”

Opening statements by the prosecution

The prosecution was given 40 minutes to give opening testimonies, while Trump’s defense team was given 25 minutes.

Matthew Colangelo, senior counsel to Braggs, began statements on Monday, arguing that Pecker, Cohen and Trump worked together to cover up negative stories about Trump leading up to the 2016 election using the “catch and kill” method — buying a story only to have it never published to keep information from going public.

Colangelo alleges that Pecker and Dylan Howard, the Enquirer’s editor at the time, used the method leading up to the presidential election to hide unfavorable stories about Trump and make him look more favorable than his political rivals.

“In the weeks leading up to the 2016 election, Daniels’ lawyer approached the Enquirer about selling the rights to her story as well, Colangelo said,” per CBS News. “Howard put the lawyer in touch with Cohen, who negotiated the $130,000 payment, according to prosecutors. Colangelo said Trump hoped to delay the deal until after the election, and then not pay at all. Cohen ultimately transferred the money to Daniels’ attorney just days before Election Day.”

“This was a planned, coordinated, long-running conspiracy to influence the 2016 election to help Donald Trump get elected,” Colangelo told the jury, Monday,” CBS News added. “It was election fraud, pure and simple.”

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The defense’s rebuttal

“I have a spoiler alert: There’s nothing wrong with trying to influence an election,” Trump’s lead lawyer, Todd Blanche, said in response to Colagnelo’s statements Monday, per CNN. “It’s called democracy.”

He argued that nondisclosure agreements — like the one being argued in this case — are commonly used and not a crime. Adding that it was incorrect for prosecutors to imply that there was anything unlawful about Trump’s actions to secure the 2016 presidential election.

“There’s nothing wrong with trying to influence an election. It’s called democracy. They’ve put something sinister on this idea, as if it was a crime,” Blanche said, according to CBS News. “President Trump fought back like he always does, and like he’s entitled to do. To protect his family, his reputation and his brand. And that is not a crime.”

Blanche also accused Cohen of being a “criminal” who “can’t be trusted after having ill intentions toward the Trump administration for not being offered a job in the White House following Trump’s election,” The New York Times reported.

“Cohen has publicly called Trump a ‘despicable human being’ and said he wants to see the former president convicted, wearing an ‘orange jumpsuit,’” Blanche told the jury, The New York Times added. “Blanche on Cohen: ‘I submit to you that he cannot be trusted.’”

He further stated that Daniels was prejudiced against Trump and monetized her encounter with him to make a living as well.

The court is to continue on Tuesday with Pecker back on the stand. Judge Juan Merchan will also hear a motion by the prosecution that accused Trump of violating his a gag order that keeps him from publicly criticizing those involved in the trial and their families.