Trump’s Trial Enters Third Day With 7 Jurors Chosen

By Equipo
4 Min Read

Seven jurors down, five more to go. The complicated process of picking a jury in the first criminal trial of an American president will continue for a third day on Thursday as lawyers on both sides choose the panel that will decide Donald J. Trump’s fate.

The case against Mr. Trump stems from a hush-money payment to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, who during the 2016 presidential campaign threatened to go public with her story of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. Prosecutors say Mr. Trump concealed her story, and others, to influence the election.

Mr. Trump has denied having sex with Ms. Daniels or breaking any laws. But prosecutors say he falsified business records to cover up the sex scandal, and charged him last year with 34 felony counts. If convicted, he faces up to four years behind bars.

Many expected jury selection to be a weekslong slog, but seven jurors were seated on Tuesday afternoon. Those initial members of the panel, four men and three women, reflect the diversity of the city they were drawn from: a man originally from Ireland who will serve as foreman, an oncology nurse, a grandfather originally from Puerto Rico, a middle-school teacher from Harlem, two lawyers and a software engineer for Disney. The judge in the case, Juan M. Merchan, has ordered the identities of the jurors be withheld from the public.

Once the 12 jurors are picked, the lawyers will shift to selecting several alternates who will sit through the entire case in the event that one of the main jurors gets sick or is forced to leave the panel.

Justice Merchan has said that if jurors continued to be seated at this pace, opening arguments would most likely begin Monday.

Here’s what else to know about Day 3:

  • On Day 2, prosecutors quizzed potential jurors on topics including the rule of law, flawed witnesses and whether they believed people could be guilty of crimes that they helped plan but did not carry out. But the defense is heavily focused on a single question: “What is your opinion of President Trump?” The defense team repeatedly questioned prospective jurors’ over their feelings about the former president. Read our takeaways from the trial’s second day here.

  • Mr. Trump has often complained that he is treated “unfairly” — whether by the news media, political opponents and critics, or the prosecutors who have brought charges against him. Now the question of fairness — how people view Mr. Trump’s treatment by prosecutors, and whether prospective jurors can judge him impartially — is at the heart of a laborious process of jury selection.

  • Before the prospective jurors can even be queried by the lawyers, they must respond to a series of 42 questions. The inquiries range from the neighborhood they live in and their marital status to the programs they might listen to on talk radio or whether they’ve attended one of Mr. Trump’s rallies. See the full list of questions here.

  • Justice Merchan’s order to protect the jurors’ identities underscored the possible risks to their safety in a case involving a polarizing figure like the former president, who can whip his supporters into a frenzy. But several prospective jurors have revealed information that could identify them, reflecting the difficulty of having an anonymous jury in a case with an intense media spotlight.

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