All 12 jurors finally selected in Trump hush money trial

Former US President Donald Trump attends his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on April 18
The former president in Manhattan Criminal Court - Brendan McDermid/AFP via Getty
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A full jury has been selected for Donald Trump’s hush money case after the dismissal of two jurors threatened to delay the start of the trial.

Seven members had been selected earlier this week, but were whittled down to five as the case resumed on Thursday. One woman raised concerns that she could be identified from media reports, while prosecutors suggested another member may have lied about a prior arrest.

The development threatened to delay the trial from getting underway in earnest, until seven jurors were selected in rapid succession on Thursday afternoon.

“We have our jury,” Juan Merchan, the judge presiding over the proceedings, said as the seven men and five women took an oath to render a fair and impartial verdict in the case.

Justice Merchan said he was hopeful that opening statements would begin on Monday morning. Jury selection resumes on Friday, where alternates – who take the place of jurors if they need to step aside – will be selected.

Jurors have undergone an intensive vetting process in the selection for Mr Trump’s trial – the first of any US president – in which he is charged with concealing hush money payments used to cover up an affair with an adult film star. He has pleaded not guilty and denied an affair.

The scenes threw into stark relief the difficulty of selecting a jury to try a former US president. Earlier on Thursday, half of a new group of prospective jurors led into court asked to be excused over impartiality concerns.

One woman selected this week was excused when she raised concerns that aspects of her identity made public would affect her ability to be impartial.

Mr Trump's attorney, Emil Bove, returns to the courtroom after a break
Mr Trump's attorney, Emil Bove, returns to the courtroom after a break - Mary Altaffer/AP

She told the court that her family, friends and colleagues had contacted her after working out that she was a juror through press accounts of the trial.

“I don’t believe at this point that I can be fair and unbiased, and let the outside influences not affect my decision-making in the courtroom,” she said.

Justice Merchan said the juror had felt intimidated by the disclosures, which included her occupation and the area where she lived. Hedirected the press to avoid reporting on prospective jurors’ employment history going forward.

“We just lost what probably would have been a very good juror,” he said.

A second juror, who arrived to court late, was dismissed after prosecutors suggested he may not have disclosed prior brushes with the law on an extensive questionnaire intended to vet prospective jurors.

They noted that reporting from the 1990s referred to a man with the same name who had been arrested for tearing down political advertisements.

“I actually believe the propaganda that was being ripped down was political posters that were on the right – the political right,” Joshua Steinglass, prosecuting, said.

He added that they had also found that the juror’s wife was previously involved in a corruption inquiry and cooperated with the District Attorney’s office.

Lawyers from both sides, along with the judge, questioned the juror out of earshot of reporters. The man was seen talking animatedly, prompting laughter from the legal teams – although Justice Merchan looked stern.

Mr Trump, seated at the defence table, leaned in, apparently listening intently as the parties spoke in hushed voices.

Eventually, the man was told not to return to the trial and was led out of the courtroom. He told the New York Times afterwards that he should not have been dismissed.

Justice Merchan later said the juror had “expressed annoyance about how much information about him had been out in the public.”

Mr Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate in November’s election, has claimed it will be impossible for him to receive a fair hearing in Manhattan, a solidly-Democratic area. He has called it the “second-worst venue in the country” on his Truth Social platform.

On Thursday, prosecutor Christopher Conroy accused Mr Trump of violating a gag order imposed by the judge seven times since the trial began this week.

Mr Conroy said he had attacked the prosecution’s star witness – his former lawyer and “fixer”, Michael Cohen – branding him a “serial perjurer” on Truth Social.

In another post, Mr Trump quoted a Conservative commentator who claimed there were “undercover liberal activists lying to the judge” to get onto the jury. “This is the most disturbing post in light of what just happened this morning,” Mr Conroy said.

Prosecutors have already sought a $3,000 fine for three other posts on Mr Trump’s Truth Social platform.

Defence lawyer Emil Bove said Mr Cohen “had been attacking President Trump in public statements,” and that Mr Trump was simply replying. The judge will consider the matter next week.

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