Trump trial lawyers clash during jury selection as judge warns Trump over comments – CBS News

Trump trial lawyers clash during jury selection as judge warns Trump over comments – CBS News

Three Manhattan residents were selected Tuesday afternoon to serve on the former president’s jury. Donald Trump’s criminal trial as lawyers for both sides clashed over which potential jurors should — and should not — be seated.

The first three jurors include two men and one woman. At least nine others, plus half a dozen alternates, have yet to be chosen. About 80 people have been excused since the proceedings began Monday, most of them saying they could not be impartial in deciding a case involving Trump.

On Tuesday, a dispute over a juror’s Facebook posts showing celebrations after Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election drew audible comments from the former president. That earned him a reprimand from Judge Juan Merchan, who asked Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, to speak to his client.

“Mr. Blanche, your client was saying something audibly. He was audible, gesturing and speaking in the direction of the juror. I will not tolerate that,” Merchan said. “I will not let any juror be intimidated in this courtroom. I want to make that very clear.”

Blanche had asked the judge to dismiss the juror because of the video posts, which showed people clapping in the streets of New York. The woman told the court she wanted to capture a “celebrative moment in New York,” comparing the cheers to the nightly celebrations of health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. She insisted she could remain impartial during the trial.

The judge initially said she provided reasonable explanations for both positions, but she was ultimately fired. He also excused another man who posted about Trump’s “illegal travel ban” and wrote, “Get him out and lock him up.”

Day 2 of jury selection

Former President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom as he waits for the start of the second day of his criminal trial at Manhattan Criminal Court, April 16, 2024.

JUSTIN LANE / Getty Images

Those disputes arose after prosecutors and defense attorneys had their first chance to directly question potential jurors who passed a first round of screening. Earlier, Joshua Steinglass, a member of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office, told jurors the case “has nothing to do with your politics.”

“We’re not suggesting that it’s necessary to have been living under a rock for the last eight years, or the last 30 years,” he said. “We don’t expect you to not have heard about this, or discussed this matter with friends. What we need is for you to keep an open mind. “

The first group of potential jurors were sworn in Monday after pretrial discussions on evidence and procedural rules. About two-thirds of the group of 96 New Yorkers were quickly dismissed, with most saying they would not be able to be fair and impartial at trial. Others were excused for various other reasons. The slow process of identifying suitable jurors is expected to take at least a week.

Other jurors were sent home throughout the day Tuesday. One woman was discharged with flu-like symptoms. Several others said they couldn’t be fair or impartial, including a man who moved to Manhattan from Texas and said he got his news from Fox News and Barstool Sports, among other sources. He said it was “going to be difficult for me to be impartial” because many of his family and friends were Republicans. Mercan thanked him for his frankness and excused him.

The “silence about money” affair

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records related to a hush money payment his lawyer brought in adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, saying the lawsuits were part of a plot by Democrats to prevent him from running again the White House. The case is the first of four criminal prosecutions against Trump to go to trial.

Entering the courtroom Tuesday, Trump called the trial a “sham” and said the charges should have been dismissed.

“This is a trial that should never have happened. It should have been canceled a long time ago,” he told reporters.

At several points during pretrial closing arguments Monday morning, Trump appeared to fall asleep at the defense table, his chin briefly dropping to his chest. He appeared to doze off several times Tuesday morning.

The trial is expected to last between six and eight weeks, every day of the week except Wednesday, with a few shortened days for the Passover holiday. The timeline severely limits Trump’s ability to hit the campaign trail, something he has cited to support his claims of political bias.

“I should be in Pennsylvania, Florida, many other states right now — North Carolina, Georgia — campaigning,” Trump said before entering the courtroom.


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