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Seven jurors seated on the second day of Trump’s New York hush-money trial | Donald Trump News

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Seven jurors have been selected to serve in the criminal trial of former United States President Donald Trump in New York, marking a brisk pace for the proceedings so far.

The second day of the historic trial concluded on Tuesday with more haggling over jury selection but despite early indications that the process could stretch on for weeks, the day ended with more than a third of the jurors needed being seated.

Ultimately, 12 jurors and six alternates must be named before the court can hear opening arguments in the case. Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels and the jurors are expected to weigh the charges against him.

But Tuesday’s proceedings were studded with warnings about the need for fairness, impartiality and decorum in the court – comments directed both at prospective jurors and Trump himself.

A historic trial

The New York proceedings make Trump the first US president, past or present, to stand trial on criminal charges.

The trial results from one of four criminal indictments Trump faces: two on the state level and two on the federal level.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg first announced the New York charges in March 2023. Only on Monday, after months of delays and pre-trial proceedings, did the trial begin in earnest.

The prosecution’s case hinges on whether the hush-money payments to Daniels could be violations of state and federal election laws.

Daniels had alleged an affair with Trump, which he denied. Prosecutors hope to make the case that the hush-money payments were aimed at stemming bad press during the waning days of the 2016 presidential election, which Trump ultimately won.

Jury selection began on Monday, with prosecutors, defence lawyers and the presiding judge, Juan Merchan, all weighing in on whether candidates could be impartial in evaluating the case.

But the first day of the trial highlighted the challenges of determining who should be chosen. An initial group of 96 jurors appeared in court on Monday and very quickly, Judge Merchan dismissed more than half of them after they indicated they would struggle to be impartial towards the former president.

Not a single juror, therefore, was seated on Monday. But Tuesday was a different story.

 

Questions of impartiality

All prospective jurors in the case have been asked to fill out a 42-part questionnaire, aimed at sussing out details about their personal lives, their media consumption and their political leanings.

But in the interest of saving time on Tuesday, Judge Juan Merchan asked the jury candidates to raise concerns about their ability to serve before filling out the questionnaire.

Many – though not all – of those who raised their hands with concerns were dismissed.

Afterwards, prosecutors and defence lawyers took turns asking the prospective jurors about themselves.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass also sought to dispel misconceptions about impartiality with his address to the jury pool.

“Let’s talk about the obvious: The defendant in this case is both the former president and a candidate for that office. No one is suggesting that you can’t be a fair juror because you’ve heard of Donald Trump,” Steinglass said.

“We don’t expect you to have been living under a rock for the last eight years or the last 30 years.”

But both the prosecution and the defence pressed the jurors about whether they could keep their political views separate from the proceedings at hand.

In one case, Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche pressed a Manhattan bookseller over his political leanings.

“What I think of President Trump outside this room has nothing to do with what goes on in this room,” the bookseller replied. He continued: “You’re asking me to imbue my political views into a criminal case.”

Finally, the bookseller offered: “I’m a Democrat, so there you go.” He was ultimately dismissed.

Social media posts under scrutiny

The judge also allowed Trump’s legal team to question prospective jurors about social media posts.

One post, presented by the defence team, described a Manhattan dance party where a prospective juror allegedly celebrated Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election.

“This is clearly an anti-Trump event that she’s outside rallying and celebrating with,” Susan Necheles, one of Trump’s lawyers, said.

She and her colleagues attempted to show that even candidates who claimed to be impartial had given statements to the contrary on social media.

In another instance, a prospective juror was questioned about a 2017 Facebook post he made, with the message, “Get him out and lock him up!”

Judge Merchan quickly dismissed him: “I don’t think I can allow this juror to remain.”

Trump chastised in court

Sitting at the defence table, Trump was seen to react to the potential jurors, even nodding approvingly when one candidate admitted to reading his book The Art of the Deal.

But Trump also visibly showed disapproval at some of the prospective jurors’ responses, earning a rebuke from Judge Merchan.

While one of the prospective jurors was being questioned, Trump reportedly started muttering loudly to his lawyers. After the candidates left the room, Judge Merchan called him out.

“Before we continue, I just want to put something on the record,” Merchan said, speaking directly to Blanche, Trump’s lawyer.

“Mr Blanche, while the juror was at the podium, your client was audibly uttering something.”

“I don’t know what he was uttering, but it was audible and he was gesturing and he was speaking in the direction of the juror. I won’t tolerate that. I will not tolerate any jurors being intimidated in this courtroom.”

Juror intimidation has long been a concern in the case. In March, Judge Merchan approved a request from the prosecutors asking that the names of the jurors be withheld from the public to shield them from interference or retribution.

In the courtroom, they are only identified by numbers. The prosecutors and defence team, however, are allowed to know the prospective jurors’ identities.

Seven jurors set

By the end of the day, seven jurors had been selected and sworn in.

They included a man from Ireland who said he enjoys doing “anything outdoorsy” and watches both MSNBC and Fox News; a woman who works as an oncology nurse and enjoys taking her dog to the park; and a corporate lawyer who said he does not follow the news closely.

Also in the group was an IT worker, an English teacher and a software engineer. The seventh juror to be named was another lawyer, a father of two from North Carolina.

As the seven took their places in the jury box, Judge Merchan gave them instructions: “This will be your permanent seat for the duration of the trial.”

While jury selection was initially expected to take several weeks, the rapid clip of Tuesday’s choices indicates that arguments could begin as early as next week. Merchan previously indicated he expected the trial to last six weeks.

At the end of Tuesday’s proceedings, 96 more prospective jurors were brought into the courtroom and prepped for the culling that would begin on Wednesday.

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