Washington Examiner

Trump trial concludes with full jury

The third day of Donald ‍Trump’s trial in New York faced initial hurdles but ended with the prompt ‍selection of seven new⁢ jurors, completing the Manhattanite bench. Despite disruptions in the morning, the trial proceeded more smoothly towards the day’s⁤ end. Various ‍incidents like juror dismissals and ‌concerns ⁢regarding impartiality shaped‍ the day’s proceedings, emphasizing the significance of jury selection in the trial.


Donald Trump‘s third trial day in New York started with some hiccups and ended with a rush on Thursday when a judge empaneled seven new jurors, completing the bench of Manhattanites who will decide the former president’s fate in his hush money case.

The closing hour moved more efficiently than the rest of the day. The trial initially regressed with a loss in the morning of two already-empaneled jurors, at one point Judge Juan Merchan lectured reporters, and impartiality questions were raised repeatedly as the selection process dragged on, according to reports circulated by a pool of journalists in the courtroom.

Among the jurors selected were an engineer originally from California, an investment banker who lives in Hell’s Kitchen, and a physical therapist who enjoys tennis. One alternate was also chosen, and Merchan indicated that he would use Friday to choose five more, which would complete the jury selection phase of the trial.

The day had opened on a more pessimistic note after Merchan dismissed a juror, an oncology nurse who lives in the Upper East Side, who had been empaneled Tuesday.

The judge revealed that the nurse had called the court with concerns about her ability to remain unbiased despite previously vowing she would be able to.

She told Merchan she “definitely has concerns” after seeing that personal details about her life, including her place of employment and marital status, were published in major media outlets and that colleagues, friends, and family members were already asking her if she had been selected. Merchan dismissed her.

The incident prompted the judge to request that members of the press withhold details in their reporting about jurors’ physical appearances and places of employment.

“It’s become a problem,” Merchan said.

Outside the courtroom, the woman’s dismissal generated discourse and finger-pointing about who had reported on her place of work and other details. One Washington Post writer blamed Fox News’s Jesse Waters, but commentators rushed to point out that other major media outlets and networks had also reported the same information.

The afternoon was then disrupted by a dispute involving another already-seated juror, a man from Puerto Rico who attorneys said may have misrepresented his criminal history. Merchan dismissed him, bringing what started as a panel of seven to a panel of five by the middle of the day.

Similar to the first batch of prospective jurors vetted on Monday, about half of a new batch, consisting of nearly 100 New Yorkers, raised their hands on Thursday when asked if they could not be fair and impartial about Trump’s case, and Merchan excused them. Those who remained moved on to a questionnaire session in which they provided details such as where they get their news, if they have ever attended a pro-Trump or anti-Trump rally, and if they subscribe to the beliefs of QAnon or antifa.

Trump’s presence is required during the trial, and the former president at times appeared “engrossed” with the prospective jurors as they answered the questions, according to a pool report.

Impartiality concerns were a theme throughout the day as jurors openly pondered whether they could fairly weigh allegations brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, an elected Democrat, that Trump illegally concealed payments to a porn star in 2016 to help his election prospects.

One man, a retired wealth manager, paused when he got to a question asking if he had any “firmly held beliefs” about Trump that could prevent them from being impartial. He eventually replied “yes,” leading Merchan to re-ask the question.

The man then shifted his stance and responded “no.” He was later selected as one of the final 12 jurors.

Another prospective juror, a law clerk who said during the questionnaire phase that she was deeply familiar with the case, made it through that phase despite sighing a few times before agreeing that she could be impartial.

Later she backed out, saying she “thought about this during lunch.”

“I think the fact that I spent a year discussing this case with a federal judge and law clerks, I fear that I know too much,” she continued. “I don’t know that I can put that aside. I’m worried that it’s going to seep in in some way.”

Merchan granted a request from attorneys that she be excused.

In this courtroom sketch, former President Donald Trump, far left, and defense attorney Todd Blanche, second from left, listen as assistant district attorney Joshua Steingless, center, questions members of the jury panel in Manhattan criminal court, Thursday, April 18, 2024, in New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP, Pool)

Attorneys also appeared to have a high level of awareness about the social media activity of prospective jurors.

Joshua Steinglass, one of Bragg’s prosecutors, questioned a man about why he followed Trump on X.

“I followed him years ago. … Just generally because it was a news item when he put a tweet out, so just to be aware of that,” the man replied.

Steinglass later used one of his valuable peremptory strikes to dismiss him. Each party is allotted 10 such strikes, which they can use to dismiss a prospective juror without needing to provide an explanation or obtain the judge’s approval.

Trump’s attorney Susan Necheles asked Merchan at one point to dismiss a woman who Necheles said had “vitriolic” social media posts about Trump in which the woman called the former president a “sexist” and a “racist.” Merchan granted the request and dismissed her.

Trump emerged from the courtroom at the end of the day and decried the entire case as a “mess.”

Former President Donald Trump holds up news clippings as he speaks following his trial at Manhattan criminal court in New York on Thursday, April 18, 2024. (Timothy A. Clary/Pool Photo via AP)

“The whole world is watching this hoax,” Trump said as he held up a thick ream of what he said were news stories about the trial.

Trump tore into President Joe Biden, his Democratic opponent in the 2024 presidential race, and alluded to how one of Bragg’s prosecutors, Matthew Colangelo, previously worked in Biden’s Department of Justice.

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“We’ve got a crooked president. He should be on trial with all the stuff he’s done in his family. He should be on trial, but he’s the one in charge,” Trump said. “His top people are here working with the DA’s office to make sure everything goes right.”

Trump is set to return to the courthouse on Friday. Merchan said he was hopeful that jury selection would conclude by the end of the day and that parties would be able to deliver opening statements on Monday.



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