Trump New York Trial Makes Headway as Full Jury Seated

The full jury has been selected in former President Donald Trump's hush money trial. Two jurors were dismissed Thursday, but seven more were seated and one alternate. On Friday, the rest of the alternates will be selected. Outside of the court, President Trump said he ought to be out campaigning.

A full jury of 12 was seated on April 18 for the People v. Trump criminal trial in New York, where Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has charged former President Donald Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Attorneys have gone through two 96-person panels of prospective jurors and on Friday, April 19, will question a third in order to select a total of six alternate jurors.

Opening statements are scheduled for Monday, April 22, and court will adjourn at 2 p.m. to accommodate those who need to leave for Passover.

Next week, prosecutors will also argue that President Trump should be held in contempt of the court over his social media posts. They have asked for a fine of $1,000 per post, arguing that they have found seven gag order violations where President Trump or his campaign posted about case witnesses.

President Trump addressed reporters only after court adjourned for the day, bringing with him a pile of printouts of news articles that was inches thick.

“All of these are stories from legal experts saying how this is not a case and the case is ridiculous,” he said. “Justice is on trial. You know, the whole world is watching this New York scandal trial … the whole world is watching this hoax.”

Posts About Witnesses

Before court adjourned on April 18, defense attorneys requested the first three witnesses the government will call.

Prosecutors did not want to name them, saying that President Trump has been posting about witnesses.

Defense attorney Todd Blanche asked what if he could represent that President Trump wouldn’t post about them, and the judge found it unlikely. Mr. Blanche then asked whether prosecutors could share the names with counsel but not President Trump.

“I’m not going to order them to do it, no. I’ll see you tomorrow morning,” New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan said.

A key witness in the case is Michael Cohen, formerly the personal attorney to President Trump, who claimed that he was paid $130,000 to make a bribe to Stephanie Clifford, better known by her stage name Stormy Daniels, to not leak a story about an alleged affair.

Prosecutors said that in recent days, after they alleged gag order violations on Monday, President Trump again made posts about Michael Cohen. One was a social media post with a link to a NY Post op-ed titled “A serial perjurer will try to prove an old misdemeanor against Trump in an embarrassment for the New York legal system” by legal scholar Jonathan Turley. Another alleged violation was sharing this article on a campaign website.

Defense attorneys argued there was no violation.

“I think that the comments this morning call to your attention the challenges to the gag order from the outset,” said attorney Todd Blanche.

The gag order prohibits only President Trump from making statements, or directing others to make statements, about witnesses, jurors, court staff and counsel and their families, if it interferes with the case.

“Mr. Cohen has been attacking President Trump with public statements with respect to his candidacy,” Mr. Blanche added. “Your Honor said, in the April 1 order, that the gag order did not prohibit President Trump responding to political attacks, and we submit that that is what he is doing.”

The defense also argued that prosecutors needed to follow procedure and establish there is no ambiguity in the gag order because it can be said that President Trump has violated the order.

“We understand that we’re obligated by the order even though we disagree with its merits. At the same time, they have to establish lack of ambiguity,” Mr. Blanche said.

Juror Identities

The first order of business on April 18 had been the questioning of a juror who was seated earlier in the week but changed her mind.

She said that friends, family, and colleagues had identified her as a juror after news reports described the seven jurors seated. She said she had slept on the decision and believed she could not be fair and impartial after all, as her circle would “push things” and she would be influenced.

After Justice Merchan dismissed her, he criticized reporters for adding physical descriptions of jurors, saying they were anonymous for a reason. He prohibited further reporting of jurors’ workplaces.

Another juror had been flagged by prosecutors after they found an article revealing an arrest in the 1990s for tearing down political advertisements of Republican candidates in Westchester, New York. One of the questionnaire items asked prospective jurors if they had ever been arrested, and the juror had answered in the negative.

Prosecutors said that further research showed either the juror or his wife was involved in a corruption inquiry that ended up in agreement with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

The juror arrived to court late, and was questioned by attorneys and the judge. Court officials told reporters not to try to listen in, and Justice Merchan later dismissed him without providing a reason.

From The Epoch Times

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