Seven Jurors Selected For Donald Trump’s Hush Money Case, Former President Attacks Judge For “Rushing This Trial” – Update

UPDATE: A seventh juror was sworn in to serve during Donald Trump’s hush money trial, as proceedings ended for the day.

The juror, a civil litigation lawyer, was selected after a long day in which prospective panelists were grilled about their views and past social media posts. Although Judge Juan Merchan excused some potential jurors who had posted egregious anti-Trump messages, he allowed others who had posted political content indicating their views.

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The judge also scolded Trump’s attorneys when the former president was heard muttering as they were questioning a juror. The judge had been questioning a potential juror who had posted video of the celebration following the 2020 election, which Trump lost.

Merchan has been telling selected jurors to expect to return on Monday for opening statements.

Still to be selected are five additional jurors as well as alternates.

Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Trump again attacked the judge, calling him “totally conflicted” and accused him of “rushing this trial and doing as much as he can for the Democrats.”

Jury selection will resume on Thursday, as Merchan has indicated that Wednesdays will be dark due to his other obligations. That could change if the case falls behind.

PREVIOUSLY: The first six jurors have been sworn in in Donald Trump’s hush money trial, after extensive questioning that included queries about past social media posts.

Twelve jurors and as many as six alternates have to be seated before testimony begins.

Judge Juan Merchan also told the jury that they could plan for opening statements on Monday.

Merchan then continued jury selection. Among those queried was a retired New York city law enforcement officer who now works for two security firms. He said that he was once to serve on a jury in a lawsuit involving Trump and Merv Griffin, but it was settled out of court.

“Donald Trump was one of the parties?” Merchan asked. “I think so. I’m not 100 percent sure.”

Trump sued Griffin in 1988 during a battle over control of Resorts International Inc. It was ultimately settled under a deal in which Trump retained ownership of the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

The prospective juror also said that he has friends who have committed crimes, laughing as he told the judge, “That’s the best I can tell you.” “They’ve done time. And you know, we’re friends,” the potential juror said, per a pool report.

PREVIOUSLY: Donald Trump’s lawyers have been reviewing potential jurors’ social media posts, calling out those whose pledges to be impartial may conflict with their affinities on Facebook and other platforms.

But Judge Juan Merchan scolded the former president’s legal team for Trump’s audible reaction as one potential juror was being questioned over her past Facebook post that showed an outdoor celebration, captioned a “full-on dance party,” apparently tied to the 2020 election.

The potential juror defended the post, telling the judge that she had been re-parking her car when she spotted the celebration. She said that “regardless of my thoughts about anyone or anything or political feelings or convictions,” the “job of a juror is to understand the facts of a trial and to the judge of those facts,” per a pool report.

After the juror left the courtroom, Merchan told Trump’s lawyers that as she was being questioned, “your client was audible.” He said that he could not hear what Trump was saying but that he was “muttering” and “gesturing.”

“I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom,” the judge said, during Trump’s lawyers to speak to their client.

Merchan declined to dismiss the potential juror.

But he did excuse another potential juror who had a past social media post during the Trump presidency that read, “Good news!! Trump lost his court battle on his unlawful travel ban!! Get him out, and lock him up.” As the potential juror was being questioned over the post, Trump “flashed him a smirk,” according to the pool report.

Another juror also was excused over social media posts, including a parody video generated by AI titled “I’m dumb as f—” and featuring Trump.

But the judge declined to dismiss another prospective juror over social media posts that her husband made or shared in 2016, showing the extent to which Trump’s team is investigating the backgrounds of those in the mix.

“These are three posts. They are all fairly characterized as satire, I believe,” Merchan said. “None of them expresses the sentiment we saw in some others, a desire to see your client locked up or beheaded or something or other of that nature.”

He added, “The question is not whether someone agrees with your client politically or not. The question is whether or not they can be fair and impartial.”

PREVIOUSLY: Kara McGee, a jury pool candidate who was excused on Tuesday morning during the latest round of jury selection in Donald Trump’s hush money trial, told reporters outside the Manhattan courthouse she was disappointed to not be able to serve because of scheduling conflicts with her cybersecurity job.

“I don’t approve of what he did as a president,” McGee told reporters, but added that the right to a fair trial was important enough to her that she could have put her feelings aside and judged the case impartially.

“We all have prior opinions about the defendant,” she added.

McGee described the mood among jury candidates in the courtroom on Monday and Tuesday as tense as they took turns answering a 42-item juror questionnaire covering jobs, hobbies, family life, political activities and feelings about the case. “People did seem nervous … like no one wanted to talk to each other,” she said

She said the gravity of the occasion was palpable: “You walked in and you felt like history was happening.”

She added that her first thought on walking into the courtroom on Monday and seeing the former president was, “Oh, he looks exactly like he does on TV,” she said.

Video via Sean Piccoli.

PREVIOUSLY: Donald Trump again blasted the judge in his hush money trial, before entering the courtroom this morning for what is a long slog through jury selection.

In what is likely to be a routine moment for each day’s proceedings, the former president stopped in the courthouse hallway to make brief remarks to reporters, seizing on the media’s need for visuals given the restrictions on cameras in the courtroom itself.

Trump called Judge Juan Merchan a “Trump hating judge” who should be recused from the case, although efforts to remove the judge have so far been rejected. Trump also again claimed that the case, involving hush money payments paid to Stormy Daniels in advance of the 2016 election, was orchestrated by Joe Biden. After Trump’s remarks, CNN quickly went to a fact check to note that the case is brought in the state of New York, not at the federal level, and by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Earlier today, on Truth Social Trump railed at some of the reporting on the trial’s first day, complaining of people “lying and spewing hate all day long” on TV. The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported that Trump dozed off at one moment during the proceedings, something that was quickly picked up by cable news and even late night comics.

Trump is under a partial gag order that prevents him from attacking the judge’s family and potential witnesses, among others.

The charges against Trump have to do with the recording of payments to his former attorney Michael Cohen as “legal expenses.” The indictment alleges that those expenses were actually reimbursement for hush money payments, and that it was part of a scheme to cover up damaging information in advance of the 2016 election. Trump told reporters today that “I was paying a lawyer and marked it down as legal expense. An accountant I didn’t know marked it down as a legal expense. That’s exactly what it was.”

Jury selection is expected to continue throughout the day today, with some 32 potential jurors remaining from an initial pool of 96. The process is slow, as each juror is given a list of 42 questions to answer as part of the voir dire process.

Outside the courthouse, the scene was quiet, with no demonstrators in the park across the street from the Manhattan complex.

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