Trump Attorneys Fight to Prevent Past Cases From Being Brought Up in Trial

Trump Attorneys Fight to Prevent Past Cases From Being Brought Up in Trial
Former President Donald Trump sits at the defendant's table during his criminal trial as jury selection continues at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on April 19, 2024. (Sarah Yenesel - Pool/Getty Images)

Live updates of day 4 of former President Donald Trump’s “hush-money” trial in New York on April 19.

Trump Says He’ll Testify

Reporters shouted questions as President Trump left court. Asked if he would testify, he replied “yes!” on his way out.

Prosecutors are arguing they should be allowed to bring up the recent civil cases against him that found him liable for fraud, sexual battery, and defamation if he chooses to take the witness stand. Justice Merchan has yet to issue a ruling on the matter.

President Trump told reporters the case “is really a concerted witch hunt.”

“What’s happening here with the judicial system is an outrage,” he said. “This is the only way they think they can win but it’s not going to work.”

Appeals Court Rejects Delay Request

The appeals court has rejected President Trump’s latest bid to pause trial while they seek to overturn several of the judge’s rulings.

Justice Marsha Michael issued the ruling just minutes after a brief hearing.

Judge Rejects Presidential Immunity Defense

Justice Merchan again denied the defense’s presidential immunity arguments, ruling that evidence from his time in the White House was permissible.

However, he said the attorneys could argue in court that the posts and financial disclosures from 2018, which are public, are official acts protected by presidential immunity.

Appeals Ongoing

Meanwhile, appeals are ongoing on an expedited track as defense attorneys have sued Justice Merchan, challenging several of his rulings.

Attorney Steven Wu, representing the prosecutors, argued against the defense’s repeated requests that trial be halted until the appeals decisions have been issued.

“We have 18 ordinary New Yorkers ready to serve on Monday morning when this trial should begin,” Wu added. “It would be unfair to them and it would be unfair to the public for this trial to be delayed further.”

In any case, decisions from the appellate division of the New York Supreme Court should be issued soon, according to deadlines various judges have set on the court orders.

Trump Attorneys Argue Against Bringing Up Past Cases

President Trump had told reporters he was willing to testify, but if he does, prosecutors have said they plan to ask President Trump about his other cases.

Two recent civil cases brought by E. Jean Carroll had juries that found him liable for sexual battery and defamation. A judge presiding over a separate case in New York found President Trump liable for fraud, issuing judgment of $454 million and a years-long business ban in New York.

After the jury was seated, Justice Merchan held a hearing over what past cases, if any, would be permissible in questioning.

Trump attorney Emil Bove said the cases brought by Ms. Carroll involved allegations from the 1990s, which were “too attenuated, too far back in time to call into question President Trump’s credibility at this trial.”

Justice Merchan said he would issue a ruling in the coming days.

Man Sets Self on Fire Outside Courthouse

Cameras outside the courthouse caught a man who set himself on fire outside the courthouse as jury selection was being finalized. Screams could be heard as police officers ran to the scene.

CNN correspondent Laura Coates reported that NYPD ran over to put the fire out. She could smell burning flesh and accelerant.

Judge Names Remaining Alternates

Justice Merchan seated the remaining five alternate jurors needed and dismissed the prospective jurors.

Alternate 2 is originally from Spain but has lived in New York for many years. Currently not working, she previously worked for companies that focused on the Hispanic market and her husband works in advertising. She skims headlines but no longer watches or reads much news, and has not been following the case.

Alternate 3 is a native New Yorker who works in IT and gets their news from Washington Post and Facebook.

Alternate 4 is a woman who has lived in Manhattan for 18 years and works for a fintech company. She gets her news from the New York Times, Reuters, and BBC.

Alternate 5 lived in Texas before moving to New York, and works at a film studio.

Alternate 6 lived in Park Slope for over a decade before moving to the Upper East Side. They subscribe to the new York Times and listen to true crime podcasts.

Alternate Jurors Seated

After dismissing three prospective jurors challenged by the defense, the judge seated additional alternates.

Defense Shows Posts Calling Trump ‘the Devil’

The defense challenged a third prospective juror, showing the judge a social media post where they wrote “I believe that he [Trump] is the Devil.”

The judge said he wanted to confirm the account belonged to the prospective juror, and showed him printouts.

“The top I believe is my Facebook, but none of the posts underneath it. These are not my posts,” he said.

He denied remembering posting the items, but confirmed the “devil” post.

The post was from June 2020, and the prospective juror was asked whether that statement described his feelings.

“At the time, yeah, I felt that way,” he said.

The judge dismissed the prospective juror.

Prospective Juror Attended Anti-Trump Rally

Defense asked for dismissal of another prospective juror who had attended an anti–Trump rally. They had found photos of the attendance from social media and questioned the prospective juror’s honesty, as this was one of the things asked on the questionnaire.

Defense Asks for Dismissal

Defense attorney Susan Necheles asked for the dismissal of the juror who she recalled saying that President Trump had “made homophobic and racist comments.”

The juror had said she attended the Women’s March and said that she didn’t have a “bias” against President Trump but she had a personal bias that was “focused” on his base. She said she didn’t pay attention to his rallies and did not know the rhetoric he used, but said it has enabled his based to “make homophobic and racist comments based on his rhetoric.”

“I think that is an issue for me in the ballot box I will have to deal with not within the courtroom,” she had said.

Ms. Hoffinger said the juror had promised her view of the Trump “base” would not affect their judgement. The judge said he did not recall the prospective juror using those words, and called her in for questioning.

“The people who follow him, it seems as if they’ve typically acted in a way … use his rhetoric as citation to embolden them to act in a specific way that I disagree with,” the prospective juror said. She added that in her community, people would talk about this all the time.

Ms. Necheles argued that the prospective juror brought up the idea that President Trump had enabled discrimination against her personally, and jurors shouldn’t come into the courtroom with that kind of “baggage.”

Ms. Hoffinger disagreed, saying the prospective juror was very candid and gave her assurance this would not impact her fairness.

“I didn’t see a visceral reaction, any kind of really strong reaction to President Trump,” she argued.

Justice Merchan said it was better to “err on the side of caution” and dismissed the prospective juror.

Second Alternate Selected

One alternate has been picked.

Attorneys Question Jurors

Prospective jurors have finished answering the questionnaire and now attorneys will give instructions and ask additional questions. Prosecutors will ask them to affirm their ability to return a guilty verdict and the defense will ask them to affirm their ability to return a not guilty verdict.

While attorney Susan Hoffinger was giving instructions, one prospective juror broke down in tears.

“I’m sorry, I thought I could do this,” they said.

Several other jurors said they could be impartial with the defendant as Donald Trump, some pointing out where their politics differ.

Juror Approaches Bench in Tears

One prospective juror started to cry and the judge asked her to approach the bench. She apologized for being emotional and mentioned prior felony charges, saying she didn’t want to disclose the details in front of 150 people.

The judge commended her for being brave and said that being convicted of a crime does not preclude one from being a juror, but she would need a certificate of disability in order to serve.

Prospective Jurors Disclose Potential Conflicts

A fresh panel of nearly 100 prospective jurors are being questioned as the court seeks to seat five backup jurors after swearing in a full jury of 12 yesterday.

A few have changed their minds and said they did not believe they could be impartial during questioning. One pointed out he works in music and entertainment, and his company produces Michael Cohen’s podcast Mea Culpa even though he doesn’t have any decision-making input in that podcast. Another said Michael Cohen’s son works at his company but they’ve never worked together.

Trump: Case Put in Place Because of Politics

“This is a rigged trial, it’s coming from the White House,” President Trump told the press outside the courtroom. “They have White House DOJ people in the trial, in the DA’s office, representing the DA because he’s probably not smart enough to represent himself. The guy got elected using Trump and you’re not supposed to do that, just like Letitia James. … I can tell you a lot of people are not going to be moving into New York.”

“This is a case that was put in very strongly because of politics. So instead of being in Pennsylvania or Georgia or North Carolina … I am sitting in a courthouse all day long and this will go on another four or five weeks,” he said. “This is very unfair and people know it’s unfair. The gag order has to come off. People are allowed to speak about me but I have a gag order.”

“Every time I come out to speak to you, I want to be open because we did absolutely nothing wrong. I showed you yesterday 30 stories, 32 stories of experts, legal experts, 32 stories of legal experts saying very strongly there is no case.”

Trump Arrives to Courthouse

Former President Donald Trump arrived to the courthouse for likely the last day of jury selection before his trial begins Monday, April 22, with opening statements.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has charged the former president with 34 counts of falsifying business records, alleging a payment scheme to influence the 2016 elections. President Trump has pleaded not guilty and blasted the case as politically motivated.

From The Epoch Times

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