Trump criminal case: full 12-person jury seated in Manhattan –

Trump criminal case: full 12-person jury seated in Manhattan –

  • By Madeline Halpert and Kayla Epstein
  • BBC News, in court

Video caption, Watch: Trump complains about New York courtroom ‘freezing’

A full 12-person jury has been sworn in for the historic criminal trial of former US President Donald Trump in New York.

“We have our jury,” Judge Juan Merchan said after seven men and five women were selected to serve on the jury. Two jurors had to be excused earlier.

Some thought jury selection could take weeks, but things moved quickly after Mr. Trump’s team ran out of challenges.

The court could hear opening arguments as early as Monday.

This trial, the first in which a former US president is accused, stems from a hush-money payment to a porn star.

Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 (£105,000) before the 2016 election to buy her silence over an affair she claims she had with Mr Trump – an affair Mr Trump denies having had.

The payment itself was not illegal, but Mr. Trump was indicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat. He pleaded not guilty.

As Mr. Trump left court Thursday evening, he showed dozens of print media articles criticizing the charges, which he called “political.”

“It’s a very bad thing,” said the Republican, who will challenge President Joe Biden, a Democrat, for the White House in November’s election.

“The whole world is watching this hoax.” He also took issue with the temperature in the courtroom, saying it was “freezing in there.”

Today’s jury selection session suffered its first setback after Judge Merchan dismissed two jury members who were serving this week.

The judge announced that Juror No. 2 realized she could no longer be impartial after her friends and family learned through the media that she had been chosen to serve on the jury. They started bombarding her with messages, she said.

“I don’t believe, at this point, that I can be fair and impartial,” she said, because it might be difficult to not let outside opinions influence her decision in the courtroom.

Judge Merchan quickly excused her and then limited the information reporters could use to describe the jurors to make them less identifiable.

“We just lost what probably would have been a very good juror for this case,” he said.

She is not the only one to be fired.

Judge Merchan said that after conducting some research, lawyers from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office discovered that Juror No. 4 may have lied about having no criminal history.

The judge said he appeared to have been arrested in the 1990s for destroying political advertisements, while his wife may have been involved in a corruption case investigated by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

After a lengthy and private discussion with legal teams and Judge Merchan, this juror was excused.

Jeremy Saland, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office who now practices criminal defense, told the BBC it was “very rare” for jurors to be seated and then dismissed less than 48 hours later.

Anna Cominsky, a professor at New York Law School, said the day’s dynamics showed this was not a typical criminal case and that the public pressure on those involved would be unprecedented.

“The real issue here is not retaining the identifying information of jurors or potential jurors for the parties,” she said. “It stays hidden from the public. That’s the difference.”

The search for impartial and willing jurors continued into the afternoon. A new group of 96 potential jurors was brought into the courtroom.

At the end of the day, seven of them would be sworn in as jurors before the judge. One additional juror was sworn in as an alternate, and the process of finding five more jurors will continue Friday.

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 for her silence before the 2016 election about an alleged sexual relationship with Mr. Trump.

It took a lot of winnowing to get there.

As was the case in the early stages of jury selection, Judge Merchan initially overwhelmingly rejected dozens of jurors, who said they could not judge Mr. Trump impartially.

A candidate juror, born and raised in Italy, was excused after saying he associated Mr Trump with former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Mr. Trump watched from the sidelines, arms crossed, as his legal team asked the panel whether they had strong feelings toward him.

“I don’t agree with most of his policies,” one said.

“I don’t like his character,” another potential juror said.

A third – from Brooklyn – admitted she “also had opinions” about Mr Trump.

“I spent my whole life knowing Donald Trump,” she said, adding that she once saw him and his ex-wife Marla Maples shopping for baby items.

But most — including some with “neutral views” of the former president — insisted that their views of him as a politician would not influence their assessment of him in court.

The defense team raised concerns about past social media posts from a prospective juror, in which she called Trump “racist, sexist and narcissistic.”

Judge Merchan forced her to read the message aloud in court. “Oops, that sounds bad,” she said upon hearing the racist word.

“I was in a disturbed state of mind during this election cycle,” she said. “I’m not in those positions today.”

Ultimately, Judge Merchan said it wasn’t worth “taking the risk” with the juror, and she was dismissed.

Another juror was excused when a surprise personal connection to the case emerged.

One woman said she met one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Susan Necheles, 15 years ago.

“She spent the night at my house,” Ms Necheles told the court.

When questioned, the future juror confirmed that she had stayed there once.


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