Politics and Government

The search for an impartial jury in Trump’s hush money case resumes

Former President Donald Trump, flanked by attorneys Todd Blanche (left) and Emil Bove (right), arrives for his criminal trial as jury selection continues at Manhattan court on Thursday.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump (C), flanked by attorneys Todd Blanche (L) and Emil Bove (R), arrives for his criminal trial as jury selection continues at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 18 in New York City.
Jabin Botsford via Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump is back in a New York City courtroom on Thursday as jury selection is still underway for his criminal trial.

An 18-person anonymous jury selection is expected to take several days and the trial is expected to last about six weeks — even as Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, campaigns to be president once again.

Trump faces 34 felony counts alleging that he falsified New York business records in order to conceal damaging information to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump himself is also making claims about election interference — though he is concerned about his own current 2024 bid. Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom earlier in the week, Trump lamented that he is unable to make campaign stops in other states because New York law requires him to be present for his criminal trial, which takes place on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Still, his campaign remains active. On Tuesday night, Trump visited a bodega in Harlem to tout support from the Bodega and Small Business Group, which represents New York's small convenience stores known as bodegas. He is also expected to show up at a rally in Wilmington, N.C. on Saturday night.

Selecting a fair and impartial jury takes time

Jury selection began Monday — and from the start 50 of 96 jurors were dismissed when asked if they believed they could be "fair and impartial." They could not. Out of the second batch of 96, 40 were excused.

But that first question has continued to dismiss jurors. On Tuesday, one prospective juror told New York Judge Juan Merchan that after struggling to sleep overnight and thinking about it, she concluded she could not be fair and impartial. She was dismissed.

On Thursday, the third day of jury selection, one selected juror voiced concern that reports in the media may reveal identifying information and her identity potentially being revealed would not allow her to be fair and impartial. She was dismissed after originally being selected.

Merchan requested that members of the press not publish potentially identifying information such as physical characteristics or personal information, despite some being on the questionnaire jurors must fill out and verbally answer including their current and former employers.

A second selected juror was also dismissed Thursday afternoon by Merchan. The reason has not been made public.

Earlier in the day, the District Attorney's team raised concerns that this juror may have lied on the questionnaire when asked if they had been arrested. Someone of the same name had been arrested in Westchester for tearing down political advertisements in the 1990s, Joshua Steinglass, a prosecutor for the DA's office said. And he said it seemed that the juror's wife was previously accused of or involved in a corruption inquiry. They did not know if it was the same person.

The Trump legal team has also done their research on these prospective jurors. On Tuesday, some potential jurors were dismissed because of their social media history. Trump's lawyer, Todd Blanche, challenged the impartiality of one juror because of her husband's posts about the former president dating back to 2016. Later that day, she was not selected to be a juror.

The prospective jurors are also answering their questions in front of the former president, who turns back to look at them.

"I certainly follow the news, I'm aware there are other lawsuits out there," a prospective juror later selected said. "But I'm not sure that I know anyone's character.

Another selected juror said they didn't keep up with the news and didn't know much about any of Trump's other cases.

"President Trump speaks his mind," a third juror said about Trump, but added she does not have a strong opinion either way.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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