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Wednesday May 22, 2024

Donald Trump hush money trial: Day one wraps up as 6 jurors selected

Former president Donald Trump's trial commences with problems in jury selection

By Web Desk
April 17, 2024
Donald Trumps first day in court sees challenges in jury selection. (Former US President Donald Trump attends the second day of his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on April 16, 2024. — AFP)
Donald Trump's first day in court sees challenges in jury selection. (Former US President Donald Trump attends the second day of his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on April 16, 2024. — AFP)

The hush money trial involving former president Donald Trump is underway, and as of Tuesday afternoon, six jurors have been selected for the 12-person panel.

The first day of Trump's trial concluded on Monday without any jurors or alternates selected. The trial is a first in many ways - it is the first criminal trial for a former US commander-in-chief and the first of Trump's four indictments to reach the trial stage.

Trump has pleaded  not guilty to 34 felony charges of falsifying business records. 

The allegations are about payments made to two women - Stormy Daniels, a porn actor, and Karen McDougal, a Playboy model. Both women claimed extramarital encounters with Trump years ago. Moreover, a Trump Tower doorman alleged a potentially scandalous story about an illegitimate child of Trump.

However, Trump denies all their claims about these alleged encounters.

The chosen six were part of the first batch of about 100 potential jurors. These jurors were scrutinised for their views on Trump and his social media activity.

These jurors were picked after a process of elimination, with several others being dismissed for various reasons. Some of them said they could not be impartial. Others had commitments that clashed with the trial schedule while a person was let off due to flu-like symptoms.

The trial still needs more jurors. A second group of potential jurors is yet to be questioned.

The jurors' social media posts also came under discussion. Trump's lawyer, Todd Blanche, found some posts from potential jurors that contradicted their answers during questioning. One post, for example, showed a potential juror at a party celebrating Trump's election loss.

The judge, Juan M. Merchan, decided to allow attorneys to question prospective jurors about such posts.

During the questioning phase, some potential jurors were hesitant to share their opinions about Donald Trump. One Manhattan bookseller, when asked about his views, said his personal opinion of Trump had no bearing on the case. He humorously added that he would share his views if they were at a bar, but not in the courtroom. He finally admitted to being a Democrat.

Another potential juror, a criminal prosecutor from the Bronx, shared that he had some positive views about Trump.