The Latest | Lawyers set to focus on picking alternates as Trump’s hush money trial resumes

0
12

NEW YORK (AP) — Jury selection in the hush money trial of former President Donald Trump is set to resume Friday following a frenetic day Thursday that eventually saw all 12 jurors and one alternate sworn in after two previously seated jurors were dismissed earlier in the day.

One of those jurors was excused Thursday after expressing doubt about her ability to be fair and impartial after aspects of her identity were disclosed. A second seated juror was removed following concerns over the accuracy of his answers to questions about whether he had ever been accused or convicted of a crime.

Lawyers are now focused on picking five alternates.

The seating of the jurors brings the trial one step closer to opening statements and turns the heat up on this year’s race for the White House, placing Trump’s legal jeopardy at the heart of his campaign against President Joe Biden.

The hush money case is the first of Trump’s four indictments to reach trial. It centers on alleged payoffs to two women — porn actor Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, who said they had sexual encounters with Trump years earlier. Prosecutors say Trump obscured the true nature of those payments in internal business documents. Trump has said none of the alleged sexual encounters occurred.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and faces up to four years in prison if convicted. It’s unclear whether the judge would opt to put him behind bars.

Currently:

— The hush money case is just one of Trump’s legal cases. See the others here

— Judge in Trump case orders media not to report where potential jurors work

— Social media searches play central role in jury selection for Trump’s trial

— Only 1 in 3 US adults think Trump acted illegally in New York hush money case, AP-NORC poll shows

Here’s the latest:

COURT IS IN SESSION

Donald Trump shuffled through papers at the defense table Friday morning after walking into Manhattan court for the fourth day of jury selection in his hush money trial.

He turned stoic and stern as news photographers came in to snap pictures of him, as is the daily custom before court resumes.

Twenty-two possible jurors are being brought in as jury selection is set to resume. As many as five alternate jurors must be selected before jury selection is over. One alternate was already sworn in at the end of the day Thursday.

AS HUSH MONEY TRIAL REACHES DAY 4, TRUMP LOSES BID TO HALT SEPARATE JAN. 6 LAWSUITS

Donald Trump lost a bid Thursday to pause a string of lawsuits accusing him of inciting the U.S. Capitol attack, while the former president fights his 2020 election interference criminal case in Washington.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington denied defense lawyers’ request to put the civil cases seeking to hold Trump responsible for the Jan. 6, 2021, riot on hold while a separate criminal case accusing him of conspiring to overturn his election defeat to President Joe Biden plays out.

The lawsuits brought by Democratic lawmakers and police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 seek civil damages for harm they say they suffered during the attack, which aimed to stop Congress’ certification of Biden’s victory.

‘THE GAG ORDER HAS TO COME OFF,’ TRUMP SAYS

Speaking to reporters inside the lower Manhattan courthouse, former President Donald Trump once again railed against his hush money trial, demanding Judge Juan M. Merchan lift a gag order limiting what he can say publicly about witnesses.

“The gag order has to come off. People are allowed to speak about me and I have a gag order,” he said.

Prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office are currently looking to fine Trump over violating his gag order after disparaging witnesses in the case on social media. A hearing is set for next week.

TRUMP ARRIVES AT COURT FOR MORE JURY SELECTION

Donald Trump raised his right fist as he headed to his motorcade while leaving Trump Tower on Friday.

Soon afterward, the former president arrived at the court in Manhattan where more potential jurors will be questioned in his hush money case.

THIRD PANEL OF POTENTIAL JURORS TO BE QUESTIONED

A third panel of potential jurors will be questioned Friday in Donald Trump’s hush money case, drawing jury selection a step closer to completion.

After a jury of 12 New Yorkers was seated Thursday, lawyers were expected to turn their attention to picking remaining alternates who can vow to set aside their personal views and impartially judge the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Judge Juan M. Merchan has suggested that opening statements in the criminal trial could begin as early as Monday.

Trump has pleaded not guilty.

The trial will place Trump in a Manhattan courtroom for weeks, forcing him to juggle his dual role as criminal defendant and political candidate against the backdrop of his hotly contested race against President Joe Biden.

IN COURT THURSDAY, THE JUROR COUNT REMAINED SHIFTY

Jury selection in Donald Trump’s hush money case proceeded at a plodding pace Thursday when two of the initial seven seated jurors were dismissed.

But late in the day, lawyers settled on the remaining seven in quick succession, along with one alternate. Judge Juan M. Merchan has said his goal is to have five additional alternates.

Even with the roster of 12 jurors set, it’s still possible that the lineup may change as proceedings continue Friday.

TRUMP’S LEGAL ENTANGLEMENTS COULD BE A TRIAL ISSUE

Judge Juan M. Merchan was expected to hold a hearing Friday to consider a request from prosecutors to bring up Donald Trump’s prior legal entanglements if he takes the stand in the hush money case.

Manhattan prosecutors have said they want to question Trump about his recent civil fraud trial that resulted in a $454 million judgment after a judge found Trump had lied about his wealth for years. He is appealing that verdict.

Trump says he did nothing wrong and has cast himself as the victim of a politically motivated justice system bent on keeping him out of the White House. He has lashed out on social media about the judge, prosecutors and potential witnesses, prompting the district attorneys to seek sanctions for possible violations of a gag order in the criminal case.

After Thursday’s court proceedings, Trump complained to reporters that he should have been out campaigning but was in court instead for what he said was a “very unfair trial.”

“Everybody’s outraged by it,” he said. “You know the whole world’s watching this New York scam.”

Source: post