The jury have been selected in the historic Trump hush money trial

The jury of 12 has been chosen in historic Trump hush money trial in New York.

The first criminal trial for former US President Donald Trump has its jury.

Twelve residents of Manhattan, seven men, and five women, have been chosen to decide the verdict in Trump’s hush money business fraud-election interference trial, and Judge Juan Merchan hopes the panel will hear opening statements on Monday, April 22, in New York State Supreme Court.

The panel is stacked with professionals, including two lawyers, an investment banker, a teacher, a physical therapist, a speech therapist, a security engineer, a product development manager, someone in sales, and an employee of an e-commerce company.

The court seeks to complete selecting six alternate jurors on Friday.

It might have seemed reckless to let 60% of jury pool members in a high-profile case walk out of court without being questioned, but the method has paid off for Judge Merchan, who has succeeded in efficiently seating 12 qualified jurors in three days.

He did so by initially letting anyone summoned to court self-disqualify if they felt they could not be impartial toward Trump (48 of 96 potential jurors raised their hands when prompted on Thursday) or if the two-month trial commitment would be a scheduling conflict (9 potential jurors Thursday said so) – roughly the same rapid walkout rate with the first 96 potential jurors who came to court Monday and Tuesday.

The day began with seven jury seats filled, but two panelists were suddenly dismissed.

One chosen female juror, an oncology nurse, told the court she “definitely has concerns now” about what had been reported about her publicly – that her family, friends, and colleagues conveyed that she had been identified. The judge excused her and then announced new rules for reporters covering the trial: we may no longer publish potential jurors’ answers to questions about their current and former employers, though their occupations are fair game.

One chosen male juror got bounced after prosecutors said they had found an inconsistency with his answer as to whether he or anyone close to him had ever been arrested.

Those two vacancies were filled as the new batch of 39 prospects answered the same 42 questions out loud and specific follow-up questions.

In doing so, one man described growing up in Italy. “The Italian media have had a very strong association with Mr, Trump and Silvio Berlusconi,” referring to the controversial, late former prime minister.

“It would be a little hard for me to retain my impartiality and fairness.” He was excused.

One of the final jury seats was filled by a woman who admitted Trump was “not my cup of tea.”

“I don’t have strong opinions, but I don’t like his persona, how he presents himself in public,” now Juror #11, had told Trump attorney Susan Necheles. “He seems very selfish and self-serving.”

The Trump team sought to disqualify her, but Merchan declined, and the defense had already used up its 10 peremptory (no reason needed) challenges.

In American courtrooms, when jurors or potential jurors enter and are introduced, typically the attorneys on both sides and the defendant(s) stand up. Not Donald Trump. Not because he is not paying attention.

Though Trump has been spotted closing his eyes and seeming to doze earlier in the week, mainly when lawyers were arguing about evidence that might be presented, he is usually riveted on the potential jurors – watching them walk in and out, facing them from 30 feet away as they sit as a group in the jury box answering questions, sizing them up during their individual Q & A, and huddling with his lawyers over challenges to remove them.

“The whole world is watching this hoax,” Trump told reporters as he left court on Thursday. “I’m supposed to be in New Hampshire. I’m supposed to be in Georgia. I’m supposed to be in North Carolina and South Carolina. I’m supposed to be in a hundred different places campaigning, but I’m here all day on a trial that really is a very unfair trial.”

Former President Trump holds up news articles whilst speaking to cameras at Manhattan criminal court in New York on Thursday. / Credit: AP

Before the court had adjourned, Trump attorney Todd Blanche asked if the defense team could learn the names of the first three prosecution witnesses.

Assistant Manhattan District Attorney Joshua Steinglass told the court he would decline to extend the common professional courtesy.

“Mr. Trump has been tweeting about the witnesses. We’re not telling them who the witnesses are,” Steinglass said.
Earlier, Thursday morning, ADA Christopher Conroy upped the ante on the prosecution’s request of Merchan to sanction Trump for violating the court’s gag order prohibiting him from publicly, verbally attacking witnesses, prosecutors, jurors, court staff, or their families.

Conroy argued Trump had done so seven more times since Monday, for example, calling key witness and former Trump fixer Michael Cohen a “serial perjurer.”

The 34 felony counts in the case stem from $130,000 Cohen paid during the 2016 campaign – reimbursed by Trump — to pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about the sex she says she had with Trump 10 years earlier. Trump denies the tryst.

Given Trump’s ongoing attacks on expected witnesses, Merchan said, he “can’t blame them” for withholding names or the order they’ll be called.

“What if I commit to the court that President Trump will not” post any further comments on his Truth Social platform? Blanche continued.

“I don’t think you can make that representation,” Merchan said.

Blanche then vowed, that if the defense lawyers received the witness names, they wouldn’t share them with their client, Trump.

“I’m not going to order them to do it,” Merchan said.

The court will resume Friday morning with 22 potential jurors teed up to answer questions and fill five more alternate slots; one has already been filled.

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