Trump lawyers, special counsel split over how much of their political thinking potential jurors should have to disclose

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WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump's lawyers and special counsel Jack Smith's team are at odds over how much about their personal politics potential jurors have to disclose on a questionnaire for the classified documents case.

The two sides' joint proposed jury questionnaire agreed on most questions but noted their disagreements on some — including those about political affiliations.

The defense proposed questions about whether potential jurors were registered to vote and registered with a political party and whether they voted in the 2020 election. The special counsel's team objected to the questions in the filing Wednesday.

This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, shows boxes of records in a storage room at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., that were photographed on Nov. 12, 2021. Trump is facing 37 felony charges related to the mishandling of classified documents according to an indictment unsealed Friday, June 9, 2023. (Justice Dept. via AP file)

The special counsel proposed asking potential jurors whether they believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Trump’s team objected to the question.

Trump’s team is pushing to add a question about whether potential jurors view politicians in a negative light. The questionnaire also asks about views about federal prosecutors, law enforcement, criminal defense attorneys and judges.

The proposed questions could give lawyers insight into potential jurors' political affiliations or biases, which can influence how the sides attempt to fill the jury. The trial, which centers on allegations that Trump improperly handled classified documents, is scheduled to begin May 20.

The two sides disagreed over how to characterize the length of the trial to potential jurors. Smith’s team said the trial will last about four to six weeks, while Trump’s team is arguing for framing it as a longer trial, at eight to 10 weeks.

While a selection of the questions prompted disagreements, the two sides agreed on most of the 31-page questionnaire.

Smith's and Trump's teams agreed to a question about whether potential jurors have displayed bumper stickers or magnets on their vehicles in the last five years. Such magnets are often used to show support for politicians or issues.

The parties also agreed to questions asking potential jurors to name three people whom they admire the most and the least, with explanations.

Trump's defense and the special counsel's team agreed to the question "What are your main sources of news and commentary?" However, the special counsel’s team would like potential jurors to check all sources that apply, and Trump's team wants them to rank sources that apply. The news outlets jurors can select include local and national outlets and outlets across the political spectrum.

Later in the questionnaire, Smith's team entered a question asking potential jurors to "describe the amount of media coverage you have seen or heard about this case." Trump's team objected to the language.

On Thursday, Smith's and Trump's legal teams proposed new trial dates. Trump's lawyers proposed an August start date, while Smith's team suggested starting in July.

Trump was indicted in June on charges related to allegations of mishandling of classified documents. In July, he was hit with additional charges, which alleged that he was part of a scheme to obstruct the investigation. Trump and his two co-defendants pleaded not guilty.

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