Jury selection complete in Trump’s hush money trial

Jury selection complete in Trump’s hush money trial

NEW YORK – A full jury has been selected in former President Trump’s hush money case, setting the stage for opening remarks to begin Monday.

After nearly 200 prospective jurors were screened by the judge, Trump’s lawyers and Manhattan prosecutors, a total of 12 jurors and six alternates were selected Friday to hear the first criminal case of any former U.S. president.

“We’ve now completed jury selection for this case,” Justice Juan Merchan said.

Trump is accused of falsifying business records to conceal a hush money deal with an adult film actress ahead of the 2016 election. He has pleaded not guilty.

The jury is a melting pot of Manhattanites, with residents from Harlem to Chelsea, physical therapists to investment bankers and immigrants to lifelong New Yorkers.

Jury selection took four days, the process somewhat complicated by Trump’s controversial political reputation, deep ties to New York City and coverage in the media.

The final five alternates were selected early Friday afternoon, alleviating the need to bring in a third panel of 96 prospective jurors who were standing by in the courthouse. The judge thanked court staff for working into what is normally the lunch hour to bring the process to a swift completion.

After being seated, the jurors were sworn in. They were ordered to return Monday morning, when the judge indicated he expects opening statements will begin.

Roughly 100 New Yorkers excused themselves at the onset after admitting that they did not believe they could be “fair and impartial” to Trump.

Around 50 New Yorkers excused themselves on each of the first two full days of jury selection after admitting that they did not believe they could be “fair and impartial” to Trump.

Others suggested they knew people who knew Trump or were familiar with his contributions to the city, offering neutral and positive assessments of the former president’s time in the city.

And, of course, most knew his politics.

“He was our president,” said one prospective juror who was ultimately seated on the jury. “Everyone knows who he is.”

One individual, who was struck by the district attorney’s office, said he admired Trump’s rise as a businessman and politician, proclaiming that he “forged his way” and “kind of made history.”

Another person, who was ultimately selected to sit on the jury, said Trump “seems very selfish and self-serving.”

Some prospective jurors’ old social media posts about the former president — including from the heat of the 2016 and 2020 elections — came back to haunt them.

A woman apologized to the former president for the “tone” of posts she made years earlier, among them one decrying Trump as “racist, sexist narcissist”; she was struck for cause by the judge. Another person was dismissed over a post that read “Get him out, and lock him up,” referring to Trump.

Other potential jurors asked to be relieved of their duty over anxiety of serving on the high-profile case.

“This is so much more stressful than I thought it was going to be,” an excused juror said.

The jury’s selection means opening remarks could begin as early as Monday morning, with witness testimony following shortly after.

Prosecutors will make their case first. To prove Trump guilty, they must convince the jurors that the former president — who faces 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment his ex-fixer, Michael Cohen, made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before 2016’s Election Day — did so with the intent to defraud and to commit or further another crime.

They’ll attempt to portray the payment to Daniels as a small piece of a broader “catch-and-kill” scheme to quash negative gossip about Trump ahead of the election.

Trump denies the salacious allegations and has pleaded not guilty.

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