Trump hush money trial live updates: Judge sets opening statements for Monday

Trump hush money trial live updates: Judge sets opening statements for Monday
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April 19th, 2024 | ABC News Radio

(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York City, where he is facing felony charges related to a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. It marks the first time in history that a former U.S. president has been tried on criminal charges.

Trump last April pleaded not guilty to a 34-count indictment charging him with falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to Daniels in order to boost his electoral prospects in the 2016 presidential election.

Here’s how the news is developing:

Apr 19, 5:14 PM
Trump, exiting court, reiterates his plans to testify

Former President Donald Trump reiterated his plans to testify in his criminal trial as he exited the courtroom at the end of the day.

“We just had another hearing and the trial starts on Monday, which is long before a lot of people thought,” Trump said. “The judge wants to go as fast as possible.”

The former president again, without evidence, called the trial a witch hunt orchestrated by his political rivals.

Apr 19, 4:46 PM
Judge won’t order prosecutors to disclose 1st witness

Judge Juan Merchan declined to order prosecutors to disclose their first witness after defense attorneys remade a request from yesterday.

“I still think that under the circumstances, the people’s response is understandable, and I am not going to compel them to do anything,” Merchan said, citing the hearing set for Tuesday to hold Trump in contempt for violating the judge’s limited gag order.

Yesterday, prosecutors expressed concern that Trump might attack the initial witnesses if he learned their names. Today, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass offered a compromise — that they would turn over the first witnesses name on Sunday with a strict condition.

“If that should be tweeted, that will be the last time we extend that courtesy,” Steinglass said.

Steinglass said that while the testimony of the first witness will likely begin on Monday, it is unlikely the witness finishes their direct examination by the end of the day.

Court was subsequently recessed for the day.

Apr 19, 4:43 PM
Judge denies Trump’s request for emergency stay

An appeals court judge has denied the defense’s request for an emergency stay of the trial.

Trump earlier Friday filed the emergency appeal as he sought to change the venue of the trial based on some of the responses prospective jurors gave during the jury selection process.

The appeals court judge denied Trump’s request to delay the start of the trial.

Trump’s prior attempts to move the trial out of Manhattan have failed.

Apr 19, 4:28 PM
Judge sets opening statements for Monday

“We’re going to have opening statements on Monday morning,” Judge Juan Merchan declared.

He made the pronouncement after admonishing the defense to stop filing letters “targeting individual decisions one by one by one.”

“There comes a point where you accept my rulings,” he told Trump and his defense team.

“I’ve entertained your motions. I’ve entertained your arguments,” Merchan said. “There’s nothing else to clarify. There is nothing else to argue. We are going to have opening statements on Monday. We are starting on Monday.”

Apr 19, 4:12 PM
Judge to rule tomorrow on Trump’s cross-examination

Judge Juan Merchan plans to issue a ruling tomorrow about the bounds of Donald Trump’s cross-examination if the former president decides to testify during the trial.

After hearing a brief oral argument this afternoon, Merchan told the parties he is reserving his decision, which he plans to issue sometime tomorrow.

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo argued that Trump’s alleged prior bad acts as demonstrated by a variety of civil and criminal determinations should be fair game during cross-examination.

Apr 19, 3:55 PM
DA seeks to question Trump about earlier gag order

The Sandoval hearing on Trump’s potential testimony got underway with prosecutors pushing to cross-examine former president Donald Trump about his alleged violation of the limited gag order in his civil fraud trial.

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo asked Judge Merchan to permit them to ask the former president about his testimony during his civil fraud trial when the former president claimed he was not referring to Judge Arthur Engoron’s law clerk during remarks in the hallway of the courthouse last year.

Engoron determined that Trump’s brief testimony rang “hollow and untrue.”

Colangelo asked Merchan to allow cross-examination about Trump’s testimony and the gag order violation last year in order to probe his credibility.

“He lied,” Colangelo said of Trump. “It is very hard to think of something more probative of a testifying defendant’s credibility.”

Apr 19, 3:37 PM
Court resumes for afternoon session

Judge Juan Merchan began the court’s afternoon session but did not mention the self-immolation incident this afternoon in the park across from the courthouse, and Trump did not respond to questions about the incident when asked by a reporter in the hallway outside the courtroom.

The judge plans to hold a Sandoval hearing this afternoon to determine the bounds of Trump’s cross-examination if he decides to testify.

In a filing earlier this week, prosecutors said they planned to question the former president about his past civil cases, including $464 million business fraud judgment, the defamation and battery cases brought by E. Jean Carroll and a lawsuit Trump filed against Hillary Clinton claiming she conspired to rig the 2016 election.

Prosecutors also want to question Trump about the Trump Organization’s 2022 criminal trial for tax evasion and the civil case against the Trump Foundation for misusing charitable donations to further Trump’s political interests.

Trump is seated at counsel table between his lawyers Emil Bove and Todd Blanche. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is not present in the courtroom.

Apr 19, 3:10 PM
Trump files emergency appeal to move trial

Former President Trump has filed a new emergency appeal to change the venue of his criminal trial.

Oral arguments are scheduled for this afternoon to determine whether the trial should be temporarily paused.

The motion is expected to cite some of the responses prospective jurors gave during the jury selection process.

Trump’s prior attempts to move the trial out of Manhattan have failed.

Apr 19, 2:02 PM
Man apparently sets himself on fire outside courthouse

A man apparently set himself on fire outside the courthouse while Trump was inside during the trial.

The person was badly burned and taken away from the scene on a stretcher.

It was not immediately clear if the incident was related to the criminal proceedings.

Apr 19, 1:52 PM
Hearing on potential Trump testimony set for afternoon

The hearing on the scope of former President Trump’s potential testimony will occur today at 3:15 p.m.

Known as a Sandoval hearing, it will determine the extent of the prosecution’s cross-examination.

Prosecutors have indicated they would like to question Trump about matters beyond the criminal case, including his recent $454 million civil fraud judgment, the two verdicts in the E. Jean Carroll cases and a lawsuit he filed against Hillary Clinton that resulted in legal sanctions.

Trump exited the courthouse when today’s jury selection proceedings concluded, following the swearing in of the alternate jurors.

Apr 19, 1:43 PM
Alternate jurors sworn in

The six alternate jurors have been sworn-in, raising their hands.

“We have now completed jury selection for this case,” Judge Merchan said.

The alternate jurors are five women and one man.

Alternate Juror No. 6 lives on the Upper East Side and is a project manager for a construction company and a mother of three children who “does whatever my kids want me to do in my spare time.”

Her father was convicted of a federal crime when she was in high school. She said she was “shielded” from the details at the time.

Apr 19, 1:37 PM
Full jury panel now selected

“We have a full panel,” Judge Merchan said after alternate jurors 5 and 6 were selected.

Alternate Juror No. 5 is originally from Texas and has spent four years in New York.

She works in creative operations for a clothing company and ejoys concerts, restaurants and music.

Apr 19, 1:33 PM
Man with connection to Cohen’s podcast is excused

The defense successfully challenged a man who said he owns a minority stake in the company that produced Michael Cohen’s “Mea Culpa” podcast and said he has a “fairly negative” opinion of former President Trump based on his “negative, divisive rhetoric.”

The judge confronted the man with several social media posts, including one referring to Trump with the words “sociopathic incompetence” and another saying of Trump, “I do believe that he is actually the devil.”

The judge asked if that reflected his opinion. “I would say it’s not far off base,” the man replied, and he was immediately excused.

Apr 19, 1:26 PM
Judge excuses man who attended rally

Judge Merchan excused a retired teacher who attended what he considered to be a women’s rights rally near the United Nations but that the defense considered to be an anti-Trump rally.

“I did go there because I wanted to take pictures,” he said.

The judge confronted him with his social media post of a sign from the rally with a comment that said. “My sentiments exactly.”

Merchan said he wasn’t sure those sentiments were anti-Trump sentiments, but said he had concerns about the nature of the rally, which, in one post, the man suggested was a “massive anti-Trump rally.”

Apr 19, 1:20 PM
New alternates include audio pro, fintech employee

Alternate Juror No. 3 is an audio professional who offered to assist Judge Merchan with a microphone that kept cutting out. He expressed his opinion that “Donald Trump is a man, just like I am.”

He said growth results from correcting their prior wrongful actions. “Every man should respond to their wrongdoings if found,” he said. “If there is evidence found against a man, there should be consequences.”

Alternate Juror No. 4 is a woman who said “I have no really strong opinions about President Trump.”

She is married with two boys that she likes to take to Knicks games and Rubik’s Cube speed competitions. She has been a contract specialist for 20 years, currently employed at a publicly traded fintech company.

The woman who participated in the Women’s March and said Trump enabled homophobic and racist comments was excused. The judge called it “the safer course.”

Apr 19, 1:11 PM
5 alternate jurors now seated

The has seated four more alternate jurors, joining the alternate juror who was seated Thursday. Two more are still needed.

One of the new alternates is a woman originally from Spain who said she has no strong opinions about former President Trump.

The woman said she is not on social media and doesn’t watch the news besides skimming through headlines. She said her husband will inform her of the news and that “I don’t really go in depth into anything”

The defense was trying to eliminate the young woman who said she heard Trump followers express homophobic and racist things at the boxing gym.

“It’s almost like they’re devout to him,” the woman said of Trump’s followers. She is currently being questioned by the judge to assess her views and her ability to be fair and impartial.

Apr 19, 12:56 PM
Prospective alternates voice varied opinions of Trump

Many of the prospective alternates having been speaking freely about their opinions of former President Trump during individual questioning by defense attorney Susan Necheles.

As the former president looked on, one man said there were many categories to Trump: “He’s a family man. He’s a businessman,” the man said. “Clearly he has brought a lot of value to the economy.”

But he said his opinion was split over Trump himself.

“I really like lower taxes in this country. I like lower regulation,” the man said. “When I think about the Republican Party and why we bring religion and women’s rights with their own bodies,” that’s where he said he splits from Trump, concluding his impression is both “neutral and positive.”

Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal in New York, April 19, 2024.
Another man conceded he posted online a handful of times about Trump in 2016 and “around the time of the insurrection.” Asked for his impression of Trump, he responded, “I’d say it’s fairly negative.”

“You continue to hold that opinion of a strong dislike?” Necheles asked him. “Based on his rhetoric,” the man answered, though he declared himself open-minded.

“What is your opinion?” Necheles asked another prospective alternate, the management consultant who likes the outdoors.

“I think not in agreement with a lot of policies. But it’s also something that I’ve had to take a step back and really talk to a lot of people who are close to me that he has connected with,” he responded. “You need to take both sides.”

Apr 19, 12:39 PM
‘That’s an issue for me at the ballot box,’ woman says

Defense attorney Susan Necheles has been questioning a woman who works for the New York City Law Department and who indicated she participated in the Women’s March.

“Do you have strong feelings about former President Trump?” Necheles asked. “Not at the moment,” the woman said. “I think my personal biases or opinions about President Trump are focused on his base. I think his rhetoric at times gives people permission to act on their negative impulses.”

The woman said she used to box at the gym where she heard homophobic comments or racist comments “that would cite President Trump,” but she said “that’s an issue for me at the ballot box to deal with, not in the courtroom.”

Trump turned in his seat to listen to the woman’s responses.

The former president also appeared interested when a different prospective alternate complimented his “family unit,” which she said “seems strong.”

Earlier, as Necheles was questioning jurors about weighing the credibility of witnesses, a woman interrupted to ask Judge Merchan, “May I approach the bench?”

The woman indicated she was uncomfortable with what Necheles was asking.

“I feel that, through this line of questioning, I’m getting the same feeling of anxiety and self-doubt,” the woman said.

The judge excused her after a short conference at the bench.

Apr 19, 12:16 PM
‘I thought I could do this,’ woman tearfully tells attorneys

The prospective alternate who said her father was a friend of Chris Christie’s broke down crying during the individual questioning of prospective jurors, telling assistant DA Susan Hoffinger, “This is so much more stressful than I thought it would be.”

Hoffinger was quizzing potential alternates about their views of the burden of proof that prosecutors are required to meet.

“I have to be honest, I feel so nervous and anxious right now,” the woman said, breaking into tears. “I’m sorry, I thought I could do this. I wouldn’t want someone who feels this way to judge my case.”

The judge called her up to the bench for a private conversation and excused her from the pool.

When the questioning resumed, another prospective alternate turned the tables on Hoffinger. “May I ask you a question?” he said. “The burden of proof is subjective to each individual juror?”

Hoffinger explained that “there is only one burden of proof” and that prosecutors are obligated to prove Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The man said he accepted that, and that he would not hold prosecutors to an even higher standard because Trump is a former president.

Apr 19, 11:37 AM
Some jurors reveal unexpected connections

As the prospective alternates continue to answer the questionnaire questions one by one, some jurors have revealed loose connections to Trump and others surrounding the case.

A young woman who works in financial services said that her father is a “lifelong friend” of Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who then ran Trump’s 2016 transition team before becoming a critic of the former president.

The mention of Christie’s name drew a rare laugh from Trump.

The woman also revealed a loose connection to Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen.

A man who lives in Midtown and said he uses his spare time to “try to find a wife” said he has multiple family members who work for the New York State Court — and is related to a court officer who’s currently present in the courtroom. Trump attorney Todd Blanche let out a laugh.

The man said it wouldn’t affect his ability to be fair and impartial.

One woman stood up and tearfully explained she served time in Massachusetts over 10 years ago. Trump appeared to crane his neck and turn all the way to look at her, before Judge Merchan called her to the bench for a sidebar.

“I apologize for crying,” the woman said as she continued with her questionnaire.

Trump has been sitting at the defense table flipping through papers that contain either charts, photos or graphics.

Apr 19, 11:00 AM
Several prospective alternates have read ‘The Art of the Deal’

After a prospective alternate said he has a minority stake in a company that produces Michael Cohen’s “Mea Culpa” podcast, Trump leaned forward and turned toward the man at the mention of his former attorney’s name.

The man also said he had volunteered for a Democratic get-out-the-vote effort during Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

Several of the prospective alternates said they had read Trump’s “Art of the Deal,” including a management consultant who likes to be outdoors when he’s not working.

A retired teacher made the requisite pledges, saying, “I will solely make my decision solely based on the evidence in the courtroom. There is no reason why I can’t be a fair and impartial juror.”

“I believe that everyone should obey the law,” he said.

A woman with an MBA in information systems who likes to “cook, bake, watch hockey” inquired about the court’s schedule for Passover. Told the court was planning to break early this coming Monday and Tuesday, she said that would give her plenty of time to travel to her seders in New Jersey.

A contract specialist for a fintech company said she likes to take her two boys to Knicks games and Rubik’s Cube speed competitions.

Another prospective alternate skipped the questionnaire and told the judge she could not be impartial.

“After thinking about this yesterday after hearing the questions, I don’t think I can be impartial,” the woman said before Judge Merchan excused her without objection.

Apr 19, 10:22 AM
‘I don’t think I can be impartial,’ says woman who’s excused

Asked to share her responses to the jury questionnaire, one prospective alternate said she wanted to “jump ahead” to Question 34, which asks whether any strong opinions of Trump would interfere with the ability to be fair.

“The last day, after some introspection, I don’t think I can be impartial,” the woman said. “I had every intention when I first started, but I think after the questions posed to prospective jurors and asking the questions to myself, I don’t think I can be impartial.”

Judge Merchan excused her without objection from the attorneys.

A prospective alternate who works for the New York City Law Department said in response to a question that she had read Trump’s “Art of the Deal.” Trump, who appeared to have his eyes closed, opened them right away at that response and looked at the woman.

The woman also said she had been sexually assaulted “a couple of times on the train.”

Trump also appeared to have been chewing on something. He has been conferring with defense attorney Emil Bove throughout the more mundane parts of the questionnaire responses.

A chef for a “large hospitality group” said he follows the White House account on Instagram, “so when Mr. Trump was president, obviously I was receiving updates.” Trump turned his head to look at the man after he had been slumped over the defense table looking down.

Apr 19, 9:55 AM
Prospective alternates begin tackling questionnaire

Members of the remaining pool of jurors are reading aloud their answers to the jury questionnaire in order for the parties to pick the final alternates needed for the trial — but even before the first prospective alternate began, she said, “I have really bad anxiety” about people possibly finding out who she is.

“I might not be able to be completely fair and that concerns me,” the woman said. “More and more people in my life know I’m here without me even telling them, just by putting the pieces together.”

She was immediately excused by Judge Merchan without objection from the lawyers.

There are 22 prospective alternates in the jury box that will respond to the questionnaire before the lawyers question them individually. The court must seat five additional alternate jurors after one was seated on Thursday.

Apr 19, 9:44 AM
Court back in session for Day 4

Court is back in session for Day 4 of the trial, kicking off what is widely expected to be the last day of jury selection.

Former President Trump is in his usual seat at the defense table, along with his lawyers. His aide Steven Cheung and attorney Cliff Robert are sitting in the back row of the courtroom.

“Good morning, Mr. Trump,” Judge Merchan said as he entered the courtroom, which, like yesterday, is quite chilly.

“We’re still working on the temperature in the courtroom,” Merchan told all those assembled.

Apr 19, 9:29 AM
‘I want to be open,’ Trump tells reporters

Entering the courthouse this morning, Trump again criticized the limited gag order in the case, telling reporters, “Every time I come out to speak to you, I want to be open because we did absolutely nothing wrong.”

It was a continuation of his campaign against Judge Merchan’s limited gag order, which prevents him from targeting potential witnesses in the case, as well as jurors, lawyers, court staff, and the families of Merchan and District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

“The gag order has to come off. I should be allowed to speak,” he said.

Apr 19, 7:58 AM
Alternate jurors expected to be picked today

The temperature is rising in Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial — just not in the courtroom itself.

As the parties worked to select the jury Thursday, prosecutors alleged that the former president had violated the limited gag order in the case seven additional times beyond the three instances they flagged on Monday. The accusation came a day after Judge Juan Merchan scolded the former president for muttering within earshot of the jury.

As for the actual temperature, Trump and his attorneys complained it was too cold.

“I’m sitting here for days now from morning till night in that freezing room,” Trump told reporters Thursday during a break in the proceedings.

Trump attorney Todd Blanche asked Judge Merchan if he could turn up the heat in the courtroom “just one degree,” but the judge politely declined, saying he feared a one-degree bump in the nearly century-old building could increase the temperature by 30 degrees.

But the parties persevered, seating the jury’s 12 members by the end of the day. Today they’ll work to seat the jury’s six alternates, in the hope of starting opening arguments on Monday.

Apr 18, 5:44 PM
‘I’m supposed to be in North Carolina,’ Trump tells reporters

Following court, Trump exited the courtroom where he reiterated to reporters that he spent the day in the courtroom instead of campaigning for president.

“I’m supposed to be in … New Hampshire … I’m supposed to be in Georgia. I’m supposed to be in North Carolina, South Carolina. I’m supposed to be in a lot of different places campaigning, but I’ve been here all day on a trial that really is a very unfair trial,” he said.

The former president went on to claim that legal experts and various media outlets suggest there’s no case.

“The case is ridiculous,” he said. “It’s missing fraud. There is no fraud.”

A reporter, referring to a juror who had characterized Trump during questioning as “selfish and self-serving”, shouted, “The juror called you selfish. How does that make you feel?” but Trump did not respond and exited the hallway.

Apr 18, 5:31 PM
Court recessed for the day

Judge Juan Merchan has recessed court for the day.

Proceedings will resume tomorrow with plans to choose the remaining alternates for the jury.

Apr 18, 5:13 PM
Citing concerns, prosecutors mum on identity of 1st witnesses

Prosecutors are keeping their cards close to vest regarding who the first witnesses called at trial will be.

When defense attorney Todd Blanche requested the names of the first three state witnesses, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass declined to provide the name of the first planned witnesses following opening statements.

“Mr. Trump has been tweeting about the witnesses,” Steinglass said. “We are not telling you who the witnesses are.”

Blanche attempted to ease that concern by vowing that the former president would not post about the likely witness.

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

On a separate matter, Merchand said that if time permits tomorrow, he plans to hold a planned hearing on the bounds of Trump’s cross-examination if he opts to testify.

Apr 18, 5:06 PM
Judge says goal is for opening statements on Monday

Judge Merchan indicated that his goal is to have opening statements in the trial begin on Monday morning.

“We can’t start until every single one of you is here,” Merchan said to the newly sworn-in jury members, urging them to inform him if they encounter any delay.

After the jury was sworn in, former President Trump sat stone-faced at the defense table with his hands locked, staring at the jury as they left the courtroom.

Apr 18, 4:58 PM
5 new jurors include several transplanted New Yorkers

Following the seven jurors chosen earlier, here is basic biographical information on the remaining five jurors, whose identities are being kept private for security reasons.

Juror No. 8 is a former wealth manager who moved to New York in the 1980s. He is originally from Lebanon.

Juror No. 9 is a speech therapist who grew up in New Jersey.

Juror No. 10 has lived in Murray Hill for six years and worked in commerce for an eyewear company.

Juror No. 11 is originally from California and works as a production development manager for a multinational apparel company.

Juror No. 12 is a physical therapist whose husband works as a coach for a professional sports team.

Apr 18, 4:41 PM
12 jurors now seated, alternates to come

A full jury of 12 members has now been seated following the addition of five more jurors.

The court is now working to select the six alternate jurors for the case.

“We have our jury,” Judge Merchan said.

The 12 jurors then rose, raised their right hands, and were sworn in.

Apr 18, 4:27 PM
‘Oops, that sounds bad,’ potential juror says of past social posts

Trump’s lawyers sought to strike a potential juror by confronting her with her own social media posts about the former president.

“These posts are vitriolic,” defense lawyer Susan Necheles said. “There is no question that this is as strong language as you can get for Donald Trump.”

Necheles cited past posts including one where the potential juror said Trump was “anathema” to her beliefs.

“I wouldn’t believe Donald Trump if his tongue were notarized,” another post allegedly said.

When the potential juror was questioned about the posts, she said that she did not immediately recall making them.

Merchan then asked her to read back some of her posts, including one when she called Trump a “racist, sexist, narcissist.”

“Oops, that sounds bad,” the potential juror said. “I was in a disturbed frame of mind during that election cycle.”

After questioning, the prospective juror apologized to Trump, saying of her posts, “I don’t think it’s appropriate.”

The judge ultimately struck her from consideration for the jury.

“Those were pretty strong views,” Judge Marchan said.

Apr 18, 4:20 PM
2 new jurors seated

Two new jurors have been seated, including a man with an MBA in finance who follows Trump on Truth Social and also follows Michael Cohen.

“I do not have any beliefs that would prevent me from being fair or impartial,” the man said while answering attorneys’ questions.

“Except for following Michael Cohen or someone like that I don’t follow any anti-Trump organizations,” he said.

The second new juror is a security engineer who is married with three children, whose wife is a teacher.

The new additions bring the number of jurors selected so far back to seven, after two jurors were excused earlier today.

The court is now looking for eleven more jurors, six of them alternates.

Apr 18, 4:13 PM
Prospective juror once stayed at defense attorney’s house

After individual questioning, Judge Merchan dismissed a prospective juror after prosecutors raised concern about her preexisting knowledge of the case and asked to strike her for cause.

“I’m worried that I know too much,” she said under questioning. “I am worried that it is going to seep in in some way.”

Trump’s lawyers attempted to strike another juror who previously interacted with defense attorney Susan Necheles in a personal setting.

“She stayed at my house overnight,” Necheles said.

Merchan declined to strike the potential juror after she said she could follow the court’s instructions and be a fair juror.

“One time in 50 years,” Merchan said about the overnight stay.

“I know her husband very well,” Necheles acknowledged.

“He is not in the jury,” Merchan responded.

Apr 18, 3:55 PM
3rd group of prospective jurors sworn in

A third batch of 100 prospective jurors has just been sworn and sent home, while prosecutors and defense attorneys ponder which potential jurors who they just questioned individually should be excused for cause or with a peremptory challenge.

It’s the third group of jurors who have been sworn in for consideration, after 96 jurors arrived Monday and another 96 arrived Tuesday.

The 18 people who were being in the jury box left the room when the new group of jurors entered, creating a brief traffic jam.

Defense attorney Susan Necheles ended her individual questioning by asking prospective jurors if they would be capable of returning a not guilty verdict if the prosecutors did not prove their case.

“If they do not prove it, I will not be returning a guilty verdict,” said a woman.

The court is looking for seven more jurors and six alternates.

Apr 18, 3:49 PM
Trump hears differing views of his personality

Former President Trump, sitting at the defense table, just finished listening to opposite reviews of his presidency and character.

First, a prospective female juror bluntly said, “I don’t like his persona,” when asked if she has any strong opinions about him.

“The way he presents himself in public … he is just very selfish and self serving,” the prospective juror said. “So I don’t really appreciate that in any public servant. I don’t know him as a person … but just how he is in public, and how he carries himself in public, it’s not my cup of tea.”

Trump seemed to be leaning forward listening carefully to her answer, at times fidgeting. He leaned back and crossed his arms when she finished.

Then, a male prospective juror took the mic and said he found Trump “pretty amazing.”

“He was a businessman in New York. He forged his way,” the prospective juror said. “He kind of made history … I’m impressed with that.”

Trump leaned forward again, listening to this new answer.

“I started as an entrepeneur as well … made a lot of things happen,” the prospective juror said. “Just like he has.”

A lifelong New Yorker who works in law enforcement, he said that his love of hockey also made him feel warmly toward Trump.

“As a wannabe hockey player, I still thank him for fixing that Wollman Rink that nobody could fix,” he said of the ice skating rink in Central Park that Trump had refurbished in the 1980s.

Apr 18, 3:34 PM
Defense attorney probes jury prospects for bias

Defense attorney Susan Necheles is now questioning the potential jurors to probe for any bias they might have regarding the former president.

“Do you have strong feelings about President Trump?” Necheles asked a prospective juror who lives on the Upper West Side and works in publishing.

“I disagree with most of his policies,” she responded, though she added she did not have a strong opinion of Trump personally. “It is purely a political opinion.”

A woman who lives in Inwood and works as a paralegal at a major law firm acknowledged that she might have made some negative social media posts about Trump.

“His politics aren’t always my politics,” she said of the former president.

“Is this going to affect how you are going to look at the evidence of this case, even if you want to be fair?” Necheles asked the jurors broadly.

“Will you keep an open mind?” Steinglass asked.

Few of the prospective jurors took issue with it.

One prospective juror said she’s “100% confident” she can keep an open mind.

“I’d have to wait to hear everything and see if it’s compelling or not,” said another.

Apr 18, 2:50 PM
Court resumes with questioning of prospective jurors

Court resumed after the lunch break with the individual questioning of 18 prospective jurors, who are seated in the jury box.

Assistant District Attorney Josh Steinglass began with a rhetorical question for the group: “How am I considered for this case of all cases?”

Steinglass said the case was not a referendum on the Trump presidency or anyone’s politics. “This case is about whether this man broke the law,” he said, gesturing toward Trump.

“I could be objective,” one of the prospective jurors, the security officer with Rangers seats and a flip phone, said.

Before the questions resumed, Judge Juan Merchan addressed the temperature in the courtroom.

“I want to apologize that it’s chilly in here,” Merchan said.

Earlier, when defense attorney Todd Blanche asked to make the courtroom warmer, the judge had said he feared a one-degree bump in the nearly century-old building could increase the temperature by 30 degrees.

Apr 18, 1:16 PM
Prospective juror born in Italy is excused

A prospective juror was promptly excused after he explained he was born and raised in Italy, where he said the media has a “strong association” between Donald Trump and scandal-plagued former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi that would prevent him from being fair.

“Now that I’m sitting here, it’s going to be hard for me to retain my impartiality and fairness,” the man said before he was excused.

Court subsequently recessed for lunch, with the questioning of potential jurors scheduled to resume after the break.

Apr 18, 12:59 PM
Long Island native answers attorneys’ questions

After losing two jurors, the selection process is stretching on this afternoon with prospective jurors standing up one-by-one to read the questionnaire.

“This is so bizarre,” said a Long Island native when time came for her turn.

The woman is married with two children and has served on a jury three times before. She said her son is some sort of rating analyst, but conceded, “I don’t actually know what he does.”

Defense attorney Todd Blanche appeared to laugh at that answer. Donald Trump did not.

In response to the question of whether she can put aside bias, the prospective juror answered, “Yes, I will be unbiased. I will be very impartial.”

Trump has appeared at times interested in some of the jurors as they work through their questionnaires. As one woman read her answers out loud, Trump turned his body to face her, slid is arm over the back of his chair, and crossed one leg over the other, listening.

Apr 18, 12:18 PM
2nd juror excused, leaving 5 seated for now

Judge Juan Merchan has excused Juror No. 4 after he returned to the courtroom to speak with the judge.

There are now five jurors seated, after Juror No. 2 was excused earlier.

Judge Merchan said the man “expressed annoyance” at how much personal information about him had been publicized.

Trump looked on from his seat, alone, as the attorneys spoke to the judge.

The judge said the sidebar discussion would be sealed and omitted from the daily transcript.

Apr 18, 12:04 PM
Judge, attorneys question Juror No. 4

Juror No. 4, who the DA’s office said apparently failed to disclose prior encounters with the judicial system when he was picked for the jury, returned to the courtroom where he was questioned by Judge Merchan and attorneys for the two sides.

The discussion took place at the bench, out of earshot, in a private sidebar. Trump remained seated.

Assistant District Attorney Josh Steinglass questioned the juror, a grandfather originally from Puerto Rico who earlier indicated he found Trump “fascinating.”

At one point, the juror broke out laughing. Defense attorney Todd Blanche also appeared to be laughing.

The man was then escorted from the courtroom, after which the judge said he would give the attorneys a few minutes to discuss the circumstances with the juror, who prosecutors determined had ripped down political posters in Westchester County in the 1990s. The posters leaned to the “political right,” Steinglass had said.

There was also a prior deferred prosecution agreement the juror’s wife entered into with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which he also failed to disclose while responding to the jury questionnaire.

Apr 18, 11:42 AM
Law enforcement officer draws chuckles

“Good morning and thank you for having me,” a prospective juror boomed, shaking a sleepy courtroom to attention and drawing a chuckle when he revealed he served as a court security officer.

The man proudly declared he’s “born and raised” in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, and has been in law enforcement for 34 years, assigned by the New York State court system to the Court of Claims.

He said he’s a New York Rangers season ticket holder and does not have a smartphone.

“I still use a flip phone,” he said.

He also said the only news he gets is from the Daily News and the New York Post.

Apr 18, 11:24 AM
MBA, woman in publishing among prospective jurors questioned

A prospective juror with an MBA in finance told the court that he follows Trump on Truth Social but takes no part in political rallies for or against the former president.

“Except for following Michael Cohen or someone like that, I don’t follow any anti-Trump organizations,” the man said.

“I do not have any beliefs that would prevent me from being fair or impartial,” he said.

A woman from the Upper West Side whose husband served as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn said she read “the first ten pages or so of ‘Disloyal,'” Michael Cohen’s book. The woman, who works in publishing, quickly added, “for business reasons.”

Another prospective juror, a woman who lives in Greenwich Village, said she read Trump’s “Art of the Deal,” decades ago.

Trump appears to be actively listening to many of these responses. At one point he called over a court security officer to ask him something.

Apr 18, 11:05 AM
Attorneys questioning prospective jurors

Attorneys assessing the newest group of prospective jurors are questioning a woman who works at a big law firm, who said she discussed the Trump hush money case “at length” with her coworkers.

The woman said she has both criminal and civil law experience and has “discussed the legal merits of the this case with many co-workers.”

Asked by the judge whether she could be fair, the woman pledged to “put that aside” but added “it’s hard to un-ring a bell.”

The woman, who lives with her fiancé on the Upper East Side, said she took part in the women’s march.

She also said she discussed a book by Mark Pomerantz, who had been hired by then-district attorney Cy Vance to work on the Trump investigation. The book was critical of decisions Bragg made about the case, but the prospective juror sought to assure Judge Merchan she could put anything she has heard or read about the case aside.

“I will follow your instructions,” the woman said.

Apr 18, 10:53 AM
9 more prospective jurors excused from pool

Nine additional prospective jurors from the second group of 96 were excused after they signaled they could not serve for other, unexplained, reasons.

Fifty-seven of the 96 in the second pool of prospective jurors have now been excused.

The remaining 39 are now giving their responses to the seven-page questionnaire.

Following the departure of Juror No. 2 this morning after she expressed concerns about her ability to serve, the court must now seat six jurors and six alternates. The court deferred dealing with the potential issue over Juror No. 4.

Apr 18, 10:46 AM
Half of new jury group excused due to impartiality

Addressing the new group of 96 prospective jurors, Judge Merchan asked for a show of hands “if you believe you cannot be fair and impartial.”

Forty-eight people — half the pool — raised their hands.

Apr 18, 10:42 AM
New group of prospective jurors enters courtroom

A new group of 96 prospective jurors has entered the courtroom for the next round of jury selection.

Several in the group registering surprise upon seeing Trump at the defense table.

As Judge Merchan delivered his opening remarks, Trump’s eyes often remained closed. He appeared more attentive when Merchan ticked through the names of potential witnesses, which read like a Who’s Who of the Trump family, campaign and administration.

Apr 18, 10:08 AM
Another juror under scrutiny after one is excused

Following the loss of Juror. No. 2, attorneys are now discussing an issue with yet another juror — Juror No. 4 — after Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass said the the DA’s team did research that “possibly called into question the veracity” of the answers he gave on the jury questionnaire.

Steinglass said a person with the same name as Juror No. 4 — the Puerto Rican man who said he found Trump “fascinating and mysterious” — had been arrested in the 1990s in Westchester for “tearing down political advertisements.”

“I actually believe the propaganda that was being ripped down was political posters that were on the right — the political right,” Steinglass said.

He suggested that Juror No. 4’s answer to question 19 on the questionnaire — if you have ever been accused or convicted of committing a crime — then “was not accurate.”

Steinglass added they discovered the juror’s wife had been embroiled in a “corruption inquiry” that resulted in her “entering in a differed prosecution agreement … with the Manhattan DA’s office.”

MORE: Who are the first 7 jurors of Trump’s historic criminal trial
Steinglass said they felt they were “ethically and legally obligated to bring this information to the court.”

Judge Merchan said he instructed Juror No. 4 to be in court at 9:15, but he still has not shown up.

Trump attorney Todd Blanche said he did not consent to dismissing the juror without first hearing from him. They will revisit the issue later.

Apr 18, 9:58 AM
Prosecutors again accuse Trump of violating limited gag order

Prosecutors are now bringing up what they say are more violations of the limited gag order on former President Trump.

Since they last brought up the issue earlier this week, Trump violated the gag order seven more times, prosecutors claimed.

“It’s ridiculous, it has to stop,” they said.

Prosecutors said they would like to discuss the seven new posts at the hearing on the matter that is scheduled next week.

“We are asking you to hold the defendant in contempt,” they said.

But they indicated they could seek harsher penalties than just financial penalties, saying they are still “considering their options.”

Trump attorney Emile Bove pushed back, saying the posts “don’t establish there were any willful violations.”

Apr 18, 9:44 AM
Jury ‘just lost’ one member, says judge

“We just lost what would have probably been a very good juror on this case,” Judge Merchan said about Juror No. 2, who appears to have been excused.

That would bring the total number of seated jurors down to six, instead of seven.

Juror No. 2 said she “definitely has concerns now” regarding about what has been reported about her publicly. She said she received questions about her identity after colleagues and family said she may have been identified.

Judge Merchan admonished the press for revealing too much information about the jurors, and asked the press to “please refrain” from writing about jurors’ physical appearance. He also said there was “no need” to mention one of the jurors had an Irish accent.

“It has become a problem,” Marchan said.

Merchan then said he would be redacting some information from the public, including questions 3a and 3b from the jury questionnaire.

Apr 18, 9:39 AM
Juror tells court she has ‘concerns’ about serving

Court is off to a rocky start this morning after Judge Merchan said the court received a call from already-seated Juror No. 2, who conveyed that “after sleeping on it overnight, she had concerns” about serving on the case.

Marchan said he called that juror back this morning. She is now answering questions.

“I don’t believe at this point that I can be fair and unbiased,” the juror said.

Apr 18, 9:31 AM
Court is back in session

Court is back in session this morning for Day 3 of jury selection. Former President Trump is in the courtroom in his usual seat between Todd Blanche and Emile Bove.

Two members of Trump’s campaign, Jason Miller and Steven Chueng, are also in the courtroom on the last bench in the back of the room.

Trump sat conferring with his attorneys as he waited for Judge Marchan to take the bench.

“Good morning Mr. Trump,” the judge said as he gaveled in in proceedings.

Apr 18, 7:37 AM
Jury selection to resume

Jury selection resumes today in former President Trump’s criminal hush money case when a new batch of 96 prospective jurors tackles the seven-page questionnaire that begins the whittling-down process.

Seven jurors were seated and sworn in on Tuesday. They were told to be prepared to return to court as soon as Monday when opening statements could begin.

Among the seated jurors is a school teacher, an oncology nurse and a grandfather born in Puerto Rico who said he found Trump “fascinating and mysterious.”

The court needs five additional jurors and six alternates.

On Tuesday, each side used six of its 10 peremptory strikes, which eliminate a prospective juror from the pool for almost any reason. The judge may give each side additional peremptory challenges for seating alternate jurors.

Apr 17, 3:39 PM
Prosecutors want to question Trump about civil cases

If former President Trump opts to testify in the trial, prosecutors want to question him about all the times he has been held liable in civil court, according to a new court filing in the case.

Prosecutors have asked Judge Juan Merchan to hold a hearing, known as a Sandoval hearing, to determine the scope of what they can ask Trump on cross-examination.

“We are prepared to do a Sandoval hearing now, later or whenever the court desires,” Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass said on Monday.

The judge has not set a date for the hearing but suggested it could be Friday.

In their filing, prosecutors outlined the civil cases they’d like to bring up during the criminal trial, including the $464 million judgment in Trump’s civil fraud case, the defamation and battery cases brought by E. Jean Carroll and a lawsuit Trump filed against Hillary Clinton claiming she conspired to rig the 2016 election, for which Trump and his lawyers faced legal sanctions after the case was thrown out as frivolous.

Prosecutors also want to question Trump about a criminal case his company lost in 2022, when the Trump Organization was convicted of tax evasion by providing non-cash compensation to top executives.

They also want to bring up a civil case the New York attorney general won against the Trump Foundation for misusing charitable donations to further Trump’s political interests.

Apr 17, 12:06 PM
Trump criticizes jury selection process

On his day off from his New York criminal trial, Donald Trump is complaining about the jury selection process on his social media platform.

The former president is claiming that in the process of picking the jury, he doesn’t have enough strikes — i.e., allowances to remove prospective jurors that his legal team objects to.

“I thought STRIKES were supposed to be ‘unlimited’ when we were picking our jury?” Trump wrote on his social media platform. “I was then told we only had 10, not nearly enough when we were purposely given the 2nd Worst Venue in the Country.”

Trump does get unlimited strikes to remove a juror for cause, which means for a specified reason — but both the defense and prosecutors have a limited number of preemptory challenges, which allow for the removal of a juror for any reason.

-Soo Rin Kim, Lalee Ibssa and Peter Charalambous

Apr 17, 8:27 AM
Court is in recess today

Court is not in session today in former President Trump’s criminal hush money trial, as the trial schedule has a full-day recess every Wednesday.

Yesterday saw the first seven jurors in the case seated. Eleven more jurors — six of them alternates — remain to be chosen.

The selection of the first jurors was one of the four big takeaways from Day 2 of the trial Tuesday.

Apr 16, 5:58 PM
Trump vows to continue fight against judge

Former President Donald Trump vowed to continue his effort to have the judge overseeing his case removed, as he exited the courtroom after a lengthy trial day.

“We are going to continue our fight against this judge,” Trump told reporters, acknowledging he is having a “hard time with the New York state system.”

Judge Juan Merchan denied Trump’s second recusal motion on Monday, and an appellate court denied his effort to have the case delayed over the recusal effort last week.

“We have a very conflicted, highly conflicted judge. He shouldn’t be on the case. He’s rushing this trail, and he’s doing as much as he can for the Democrats,” Trump said, without evidence, before his motorcade departed the courthouse.

Apr 16, 5:50 PM
Day ends with seven jurors selected, 11 more to go

After seating the seventh juror in the case, Judge Juan Merchan reiterated his hope that opening statements could commence Monday if the remaining jurors are selected by then.

Until then, “put the case out of your mind,” Merchan told the seventh juror. “Don’t think about it, don’t talk about it.”

The judge then concluded the proceedings for the day. Court will be in recess on Wednesday, and jury selection will resume Thursday with the fresh batch of 96 prospective jurors.

With seven jurors now seated, 11 more jurors — six of them alternates — remain to be chosen.

Apr 16, 5:40 PM
Judge swears in seventh juror

Judge Juan Merchan has sworn in and seated a seventh juror, selecting the North Carolina-born civil litigator who now resides on the Upper East Side, after neither party challenged his selection.

Prosecutors used two preemptory strikes on the real estate developer and former police photographer, who had both made it to the final round of questioning.

Merchan excused them both before swearing in the seventh juror.

The trial’s first six jurors were sworn in and seated earlier Tuesday.

Apr 16, 5:30 PM
First six jurors represent cross-section of New York

The first six jurors selected to serve in Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial represent a diverse cross-section of New York City, according to their biographical information. Here’s a brief sketch of each juror, whose identities are being kept private for security reasons:

Juror No. 1 is a middle-aged salesman who immigrated to the United States from Ireland. He lives in West Harlem and said he normally gets his news from the New York Times, Daily Mail, Fox News and MSNBC. In his spare time, he said he enjoys doing “anything outdoorsy.”

Juror No. 2 works as an oncology nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering. She lives with her fiancé and enjoys taking her dog for walks in the park. She said she gets her news from The New York Times, CNN, Google, and Facebook.

Juror 3 is a corporate attorney who moved to New York from Oregon five years ago. He has worked at two major white-shoe law firms in New York. He said he normally gets his news from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Google. In his spare time, he said he enjoys hiking and running.

Juror No. 4 said he finds the former president to be “fascinating and mysterious.” Originally from Puerto Rico, he has lived in the Lower East Side for the last 40 years. He is a self-employed IT consultant who attended one year of college and has been “married for a long time.” He normally gets his news from the Daily News, The New York Times, and Google.

Juror No. 5 was the only potential juror who raised her hand when lawyers asked if they had ever heard of Trump’s other criminal cases. A life-long New Yorker, she currently works as an ELA teacher in a charter school and lives in Harlem. She normally gets her news from Google and TikTok but said that she “doesn’t really care for the news.”

Juror No. 6 is a software engineer who works for the Walt Disney Company, which is the parent company of ABC News. She grew up in New York City and lives in Chelsea with three roommates. She said she gets her news from The New York Times and TikTok. In her spare time, she said she enjoys plays, restaurants, dancing, and watching TV.

Apr 16, 5:21 PM
Three prospective jurors remain from original 96

Three prospective jurors now remain from the first group of 96, and they’re facing questions from Trump attorney Todd Blanche after fielding questions from prosecutor Susan Hoffinger regarding their jury questionnaire.

The three are a civil litigator, a real estate developer, and a retired New York Police Department photographer.

Asked what he thought about Trump’s book The Art of the Deal, which he previously stated that he had read, the real estate developer said, “I felt it was entertaining.” He added that, as a developer, he was “an admirer from afar of some of the work” Trump has done, but he has no opinion on “how he conducts himself.”

The civil litigator claimed to know “virtually nothing” about criminal law.

Trump, watching from the defense table, leaned back in his chair slightly and alternated looking ahead and in the direction of the prospective jurors as they read aloud their answers from the questionnaire.

Apr 16, 5:10 PM
Handful of jury prospects remain from initial group of 96

Four of the six remaining prospective jurors from the initial batch of 96 have ticked through their jury questionnaire, after which two were excused, leaving two still in the running to be selected.

A fifth prospect, a retired New York Police Department photographer, was going through his questionnaire.

A prospective juror who is a real estate developer advanced to the next round. He said he read The Art of the Deal a “long time ago” and alerted the court to tangential relationships with the former president.

“There are people that I know that know the president,” he said. “It wouldn’t in any way influence my thinking … but I just wanted to state for the record that that’s out there.”

Among prospective jurors who were excused in the latest round was a North Carolina-born civil litigator and a doctor who asked to be excused to care for her patients. A history teacher at an all-girls’ school was excused after she said her opinions about Trump might interfere with her ability to serve impartially.

Apr 16, 4:20 PM
Judge swears in second group of 96 prospective jurors

With six seats filled on the jury that will determine the outcome of Donald Trump’s first criminal trial, a new group of 96 New Yorkers was ushered into the courtroom and sworn in as prospective jurors.

Many of them craned their necks to get a look at the defendant.

“Ma’am, ma’am, put your cellphone away,” a court security officer told one woman who tried to pull out her phone after spotting Trump.

One man and woman were seen whispering feverishly to one another.

After members of the group were sworn in, Judge Merchan told them he was sending them home for the day.

“I know that you’ve been sitting around all day, waiting for something to happen, and I want you to know that that wasn’t lost on us,” Merchan said, telling them the proceedings would start right away when they return Thursday morning following Wednesday’s day off.

Before the new panel was brought in, the judge asked Trump’s defense team to confirm that the social media posts it’s been digging up are all are public. Trump attorney Todd Blanche confirmed they were.

Apr 16, 4:01 PM
Judge suggests arguments could begin early next week

After selecting and swearing in the first six jurors, Judge Juan Merchan asked them to return on Monday unless they hear otherwise from the court — suggesting that opening statements could happen as soon as early next week.

The judge, however, cautioned that seating the remaining jurors may not happen by then.

“We don’t know exactly how long that will last,” Merchan said.

Apr 16, 3:48 PM
Six jurors now seated

Judge Juan Merchan has now seated and sworn in six jurors to sit in judgment of former President Trump, after each side used several preemptory strikes and other prospective jurors were stricken over politically-charged social media posts.

“You are the first six jurors selected for this trial,” Merchan said.

Juror No. 1, the foreperson, is a man born in Ireland who works in sales and lives in West Harlem.

Juror No. 2 is an oncology nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering who lives on the Upper East Side.

Juror No. 3 is an attorney who lives in Chelsea.

Juror No. 4 is an IT consultant who lives on the Lower East Side and is originally from Puerto Rico.

Juror No. 5 is a charter school teacher from Harlem.

Juror No. 6 is a software employee who works for Disney and lives in Chelsea.

Apr 16, 3:42 PM
First 3 jurors seated

Three jurors from the first batch of 96 prospects have been selected for the jury.

After the defense raised a series of motions to remove jurors for cause, citing their social media posts, Judge Juan Merchan formally approved three jurors:

– an Irish-born salesman;

– an oncology nurse; and

– an attorney who lives in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.

The selections came after Judge Merchan blocked one other motion from the defense to strike a juror for cause and granted another.

The juror Merchan agreed to remove was an Upper West Side bookseller who recently re-posted an AI video to social media mocking Trump, which included a fake Trump saying, “I’m dumb as f—.”

“I thought it would be funny,” the juror said.

The government then used three of its ten preemptory strikes and the defense used four.

Apr 16, 3:18 PM
Judge removes juror whose post said ‘lock him up’

After declining to strike a potential juror for her Facebook content, Judge Merchan granted a defense motion to strike another juror for a social media post.

“Good news!!” the post read. “Trump lost his court battle on his unlawful travel ban!!!”

If the post ended there, Judge Merchan said, he would allow him to remain in contention. But the post didn’t stop there.

“Get him out and lock him up,” the post continued.

Those post shows the prospective juror expressing “the desire that Trump be locked up,” Merchan said. “Everyone knows that if Mr. Trump” is found guilty, he could face prison time.

“I don’t think I can allow this juror to remain,” the judge said, before agreeing to strike the juror.

Apr 16, 3:06 PM
Judge declines defense’s motion to remove juror

Judge Merchan declined to strike for cause the prospective juror who posted what the defense called “hostile” Facebook videos, explaining that he believed the juror when she told the court that she would follow the facts of the case.

“I don’t want a juror on this panel who lies to us. I don’t want a juror on this panel who misleads us,” he said. “And for this reason, I did want to hear from the juror.”

Ultimately, Merchan found her assurances to be honest.

“I was able to see her demeanor, I was able to hear her voice,” he said. “That juror looked me right in the eye, and when she said she could be fair and impartial, she meant it.”

“I find her to be credible,” Merchan concluded, before denying the defense motion to remove her from the jury.

Apr 16, 2:54 PM
Judge scolds Trump for ‘muttering’ at prospective juror

As jury selection resumed for the afternoon session, Judge Juan Merchan scolded former President Trump over his audible “muttering” while a prospective juror was speaking.

“Your client was audibly muttering something,” the judge told Trump’s attorneys. “He was speaking in the direction of the juror. I will not tolerate that. I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom. I want to make that crystal clear. Take a minute and speak to your client.”

The interaction occurred after Trump’s defense attorney sought to immediately strike potential jurors for cause based on social media posts that he said contradicted their assertions of fairness.

“There’s a number of the jurors that we have social media posts for very much contrary to the answers that they gave,” defense attorney Todd Blanche said.

Blanche pointed to a woman who he said has a “series of extraordinarily hostile Facebook posts.”

One of the posts read, “So I’ve been in the middle of the ocean for the last few weeks. What’s going on?”

Another post included a video of people celebrating near Manhattan’s 96th Street and the words, “Full-on dance party at 96 Street.”

Judge Merchan seemed baffled. “Show me the bias,” the judge said. “I’m trying to understand. How does this call into question what the juror said when that juror was answering questions?”

Blanche insisted the post, a day after the 2020 election, was a celebration of Trump’s loss.

“This is ridiculous,” prosecutor Josh Steinglass said.

The judge determined “there are enough questions here” to allow the defense to question the woman about her posts.

“I think I went to the car to alternate-side parking or something like that and there were people dancing in the street,” the woman said, adding that it reminded her of the pandemic-era cheer for health workers.

“I understand that bias exists,” the woman said. “The job of the juror is to understand the facts of the trial.”

When the woman left the room, that’s when the judge scolded Trump.

Apr 16, 2:41 PM
Jury selection resumes after break

Former President Trump is back at the defense table as court resumes after the lunch break.

While on break, Trump shared on his social media platform a newspaper opinion piece calling his former attorney Michael Cohen a “serial perjurer” and a “legal thug.”

The former president, who is under a limited gag order prohibiting him from targeting witnesses in the case, did not add any comment of his own.

Apr 16, 1:24 PM
‘Feelings are not facts,’ prospective juror says

Defense attorney Todd Blanche finished questioning the first group of potential jurors, including asking them to think about their social media usage and whether it affects their opinion of Trump.

Blanche asked a man born in Mexico who became a U.S. citizen when Trump was president if that would color his jury experience.

“I think the media and the opinions of my Facebook friends are inconsequential to this trial,” the man said. “Feelings are not facts.”

A woman who had said she had been living in a WiFi-free lake house for much of February and March said she didn’t know much about the case, but she knew about Trump’s policies. She said she had “very little agreement policy-wise” with Trump, but told Blanche she “didn’t sleep last night” because she was thinking so hard about fairness and impartiality.

“You want your client to have a fair shake. I will do my level-headed best to make sure that happens,” she said.

This part of the day clearly interested Trump. He turned his body in the direction of the jury box, shifting his gaze from his lawyer to the people who may sit in judgment of him.

Judge Juan Merchan subsequently recessed the court for a lunch break.

Apr 16, 1:14 PM
Prospective jurors asked how they see Trump

What do you make of Trump?

In answering that question from attorneys, prospective jurors are painting a portrait of the man seated at the defendant’s table — complete with his complexities and his merits.

“President Trump speaks his mind,” said one juror, a young black woman who teaches at a charter school. “And I’d rather that than someone who’s in office who you don’t know what they’re thinking.”

“He walks into a room, and he sets people off — one way or another,” the juror said. “I find that really interesting. Really — this one guy can do all of this. ‘Wow’ — that’s what I think.”

Trump smirked when another prospective juror said, “He stirs the pot.”

“He speaks his mind,” she said. “You can’t judge him because he speaks his mind.”

Apr 16, 12:56 PM
‘I find him fascinating,’ prospective juror says of Trump

Trump attorney Todd Blanche sought to “test” jury candidates on their assurances that his client would “get a fair shake” as he began his questioning of the first group of prospective jurors.

“This isn’t a baseball game,” Blanche said, referring to a sports reference Assistant District Attorney Josh Steinglass had made during his questioning of jurors. “This is extraordinarily serious.”

Blanche pressed jurors on their opinion of Trump, asking each of them whether they harbored any views about him in any capacity — political or otherwise.

“If we were sitting in a bar, I’d be able to tell you,” said the bookseller from the Upper West Side. But in the courtroom, he continued, that opinion has “absolutely no bearing on the case.”

“I walk in here, and he’s a defendant,” he said. “That’s all he is.”

When another juror indicated that her awareness of Trump comes in part through the lens of her gender — “I’m a female,” she said — Blanche asked her to elaborate.

“I know that there have been opinions on how he doesn’t treat females correctly, stuff like that,” she said. “I honestly don’t know the story. So I don’t have a view on it.”

Another juror, an older male, drew laughter from courtroom when he said Trump “makes things interesting.”

“I find him fascinating. He walks into a room, and he sets people off,” the juror said. “I find that really interesting.”

“Um, all right,” Blanche said. “Thank you.”

Apr 16, 12:35 PM
Defense begins its questioning of prospective jurors

Assistant District Attorney Josh Steinglass has finished questioning the current group of prospective jurors, with defense attorney Todd Blanche now beginning his questions.

Steinglass wrapped up his questioning by asking the prospective jurors to “look inside yourselves” to make certain they could return a guilty verdict against the former president.

“Bottom line is, there are people who for a variety of reasons feel uncomfortable about returning a verdict of guilty in a criminal case,” Steinglass said. He sought to make sure these prospective jurors could do it.

“If we do prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, you have to be able to come back in here after deliberations, look the defendant in the eye,” Steinglass said. “Look at the defendant and take a look inside yourselves. Will you be able to render a verdict of guilty?”

Trump appeared to be looking at the prospective jurors in the jury box as they each answered “Yes” to Steinglass’s question. Trump tilted his head once or twice as they were answering.

Apr 16, 12:25 PM
‘I’m going to listen to all the facts,’ juror tells court

Under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass, prospective jurors agreed to weigh the evidence before them and nothing else — vowing to set aside any personal feelings toward the former president or outside influences, in order to deliver a fair verdict.

“The particulars of this case — it doesn’t really have anything to do with my political inclinations,” said the IT professional who earlier elicited a smile from Trump. “I can judge this case on the merits.”

“I’m going to listen to all the facts,” one woman said.

A retired MTA official who lives in the Lower East Side pledged to “give this man a fair shake.” She described the judicial system as “great,” but added that it could “use some tweaking in some places.”

Trump, meanwhile, has been craning his neck, trying to look past his attorney Todd Blanche to get a view of the jurors as they field questions from Steinglass.

Apr 16, 12:15 PM
‘I’m not 100% sure I could be fair,’ says juror who is excused

A woman who works for New York City told the court, “I’m a public servant and I’ve built my entire career trying to serve the city I live in and I see this as an extension of that,” as individual questioning of prospective jurors continued.

She had signaled she had strong views about campaign finance, but said “I don’t believe so” when Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass asked whether that would affect her ability to judge the case fairly.

Earlier, a self-employed woman who has lived on the Upper East Side for 25 years let out an audible sigh.

She had reached the part of the questionnaire that asked whether she can decide the case solely on the evidence and whether she had strong beliefs about Trump that would inhibit her from being fair.

“I’m not 100% sure I could be fair,” the woman said, and was excused.

When a school teacher from Harlem who is in her late 20s answered the same question, she spoke about the 2020 election.

“There was a divide in the country and I can’t ignore that,” she said. “However, I never equated that to one individual.” She remained in the jury pool.

Apr 16, 12:07 PM
Lawyer asks for ‘honest answers’ as individual questioning begins

Jury selection is moving into a new phase with lawyers beginning the individual questioning of prospective jurors who made it through Judge Merchan’s initial cuts.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass, up first, reminded prospective jurors that the case is not a referendum on their politics.

“Really give us the most honest answers you can,” Steinglass said. “No one is suggesting you can’t be a fair juror because you’ve heard of Donald Trump.” He added, “We don’t expect you to have been living under a rock for the last eight years or the last 30 years.”

Steinglass first asked whether anyone felt like the district attorney’s office had to prove more than the law requires “because of who he is.”

Not a single hand went up.

“I think the job of the jury is to understand what’s facts,” one woman said. “I don’t think it matters what my political views are. We listen to the facts of the case.”

Trump is engaged with some of the responses at times, and at other times he leans back in his chair with his eyelids heavy.

Apr 16, 11:56 AM
Excused juror says jury pool’s attitudes seem ‘pretty even’

A prospective juror who went through questioning but was ultimately excused from the case told ABC News outside the courthouse that she didn’t like the former president, but that it was important he get a fair trial.

“I don’t like him, I don’t approve of what he did as president,” said Kara McGee, when asked by ABC News about her feelings on Trump. “But the right to a fair trial is extremely important. And if this would serve to uphold that, then that would be my priority.”

McGee was excused from the case because of scheduling conflicts with her job.

“No matter what you think about someone as a person, or what other things they may have done, what he is on trial for is a very specific thing that even he deserves the right to a fair trial,” she said.

Asked about the sentiment of the other prospective jurors on their opinions of Trump, McGee said it “seemed pretty even, surprisingly.”

“I thought because this is Manhattan it might be a little bit more liberal, but there were a number of people who said ‘Yes, I listen to Fox, I watch Fox, I have been on Trump mailing lists in the past,'” she said. “So not really leaning towards one side or the other, that I can tell.”

“You got a sense that people were really trying to put anything that they had brought to this aside, and step in and do their civic duty,” she said. “And that people really were being honest.”

Apr 16, 11:41 AM
Prospective juror who read ‘Art of the Deal’ gets a smile from Trump

Several more prospective jurors have moved on to the next round of the screening process after some were excused after saying they could not serve impartially.

Among those who remain following the initial questionnaire are a senior living professional from the Upper West Side, a native Mexican who became a U.S. citizen in 2017, a corporate lawyer who lives in Chelsea, and a Disney employee.

A twice-married man who lives in Battery Park earned a tight smile from former President Trump when he said he had read some of his books, including “The Art of the Deal.” He said he read that book, as well as “How to be Rich” and a third title that he couldn’t quite remember, prompting a chuckle from Trump.

The man said his daughter was the victim of a violent sexual assault that he described as “traumatic,” but he said it left him with a “generally favorable view of the legal system.”

He said that relatives on his wife’s side lobby and fundraise for the Republican Party, and that he followed Trump on Twitter during his presidency.

“I don’t think there’s anything that would prevent me from being a fair and impartial juror,” the man said. “I feel that no one is above the law.”

He said, however, that he “would be lying” if he said he would promise not to discuss the case “to some degree” with his wife. When the judge said he could say nothing of substance, the man replied, “That would be tough.”

Apr 16, 10:27 AM
Questioning of prospective jurors resumes

A prospective juror who was feeling under the weather was excused before jury selection resumed this morning.

The proceedings resumed when Judge Merchan returned to the bench after a 15-minute absence, which he said was prompted by a few tardy prospective jurors.

The judge said that one prospective juror was experiencing flu-like symptoms and asked to be removed from consideration. The parties did not object.

As the prospective jurors filed in, Trump appeared to be motionless in his seat, staring straight ahead.

Questioning of the jurors has resumed, with one prospective juror — a finance professional — being excused after he said his “unconscious bias” might prevent him from being an impartial juror.

Apr 16, 10:12 AM
DA files formal request to hold Trump in contempt

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has filed its formal request to hold former President Trump in contempt over a series of recent social media posts that, among other things, call witnesses Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels “sleaze bags.”

Prosecutors said yesterday that three of Trump’s social media posts this month “plainly violate” Judge Merchan’s limited gag order because they target known witnesses who will testify at the trial.

“And defendant’s violations were knowing and willful — indeed, they are the latest in what this Court has already recognized as a deliberate strategy to impede this criminal trial,” prosecutors wrote in Tuesday’s filing. “To be sure, defendant has loudly and repeatedly complained that the order is unlawful, in both court filings and other public statements. But no court has agreed with his objections, and a defendant’s mere disagreement with a court’s order is no defense to criminal contempt.”

Defense attorneys have insisted Trump was responding to “repeated, salacious, demon attacks” by Daniels and Cohen.

The judge has scheduled a hearing on the matter next Tuesday.

Apr 16, 10:00 AM
Trump seated at defense table as court gets underway

Former President Trump has reclaimed his seat at the defendant’s table, Judge Juan Merchan is back on the bench — and the second day of the criminal trial of the former president is underway.

Trump greeted court officers upon arrival, mouthing to one, “How are you?” as he made his way down the aisle accompanied by lawyers Todd Blanche, Susan Necheles and Emil Bove.

Trump is once again seated between Blanche and Bove.

The three men appeared to be in and out of conversation as they awaited the judge, with Trump periodically looking down at the desk or at the monitor in front of him.

Apr 16, 9:52 AM
Trump says Cohen payments were ‘legal expense’

Former President Trump, addressing reporters on his way into court, defended the way payments were made to his former attorney Michael Cohen, pushing back on the crux of the DA’s case that they were improperly labeled as legal expenses.

“I was paying a lawyer and I marked it down as a legal expense, some accountant,” Trump said. “I didn’t know. That’s exactly what it was.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has accused Trump of improperly labeling the money as legal expenses to Cohen in order to hide that the funds were to repay hush money paid to Stormy Daniels to boost Trump’s electoral prospects.

“Legal expense — that’s what you’re supposed to call it,” Trump said.

“This is a trial that should never happen, it should have been thrown out,” he said.

Apr 16, 9:00 AM
Trump arrives at courthouse

Former President Trump has arrived at the courthouse for the second day of jury selection.

Unlike Monday when a small group of supporters and protesters greeted the former president, there were essentially none at the courthouse this morning.

Apr 16, 8:24 AM
Jury selection to continue on Day 2 of proceedings

Jury selection will continue today on Day 2 of former President Trump’s hush money trial.

Attorneys on Monday began the process of narrowing down the first group of 96 juror prospects, but none were seated by the end of the day.

Attorneys today will continue their questioning of the remaining juror prospects from that group, with a new group of prospective jurors scheduled to arrive in court this morning.

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