Donald Trump’s history-making hush-money trial begins with challenge of picking a jury
Image via AP.

Donald Trump
Prosecutors asked for Trump to be sanctioned over social media posts that they said violated the Judge’s gag order.

Donald Trump arrived Monday at a New York court for the start of jury selection in his hush-money trial, marking a singular moment in American history as the former President answers to criminal charges that he falsified business records in order to stifle stories about his sex life.

The first trial of any former U.S. Commander in Chief will unfold as Trump vies to reclaim the White House, creating a remarkable split-screen spectacle of the presumptive Republican nominee spending his days as a criminal defendant while also campaigning for the presidency. He’s blended those roles over the last year by presenting himself, on the campaign trail and on social media, as victim of politically motivated prosecutions designed to derail his candidacy.

After a norm-shattering presidency shadowed by years of investigations, the trial amounts to a historic courtroom reckoning for Trump, who now faces four indictments charging him with crimes ranging from hoarding classified documents to plotting to overturn an election. Yet the political stakes are less clear since a conviction would not preclude him from becoming President and because the allegations in this case have been known for years and are seen as less grievous than the conduct behind the three other indictments.

The day began with Judge Juan M. Merchan ruling on a variety of procedural pretrial motions as Trump sat hunched over in his seat and stared into a monitor directly in front of him on the defense table while evidence was shown.

The Judge denied a defense request to recuse himself from the case after Trump’s lawyers said he had a conflict of interest. He also said prosecutors could not play for the jury the 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording in which Trump was captured discussing grabbing women sexually without their permission. However, prosecutors will be allowed to question witnesses about the recording, which became public in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign.

Prosecutors also asked Monday for Merchan to fine Trump $3,000 over social media posts that they said violated the Judge’s gag order barring him from attacking witnesses. Last week, he used his Truth Social platform to call his former lawyer Michael Cohen and the adult film actor Stormy Daniels “two sleaze bags who have, with their lies and misrepresentations, cost our Country dearly!”

“The defendant has demonstrated his willingness to flout the order. He’s attacked witnesses in the case,” said Christopher Conroy, one of the trial prosecutors.

One of Trump’s lawyers, Todd Blanche, maintained that Trump was simply responding to the witnesses’ statements.

“It’s not as if President Trump is going out and targeting individuals. He is responding to salacious, repeated vehement attacks by these witnesses,” Blanche said.

When jury selection begins, scores of people are due to be called into the courtroom to start the process of finding 12 jurors, plus six alternates. Trump’s notoriety would make the process of picking a jury a near-herculean task in any year, but it’s likely to be especially challenging now, unfolding in a closely contested Presidential Election in the city where Trump grew up and catapulted to celebrity status before winning the White House.

Merchan has written that the key is “whether the prospective juror can assure us that they will set aside any personal feelings or biases and render a decision that is based on the evidence and the law.”

No matter the outcome, Trump is determined to benefit from the proceedings, casting the case, and his indictments elsewhere, as a broad “weaponization of law enforcement” by Democratic prosecutors and officials. He maintains they are orchestrating sham charges in hopes of impeding his presidential run.

He’s lambasted Judges and prosecutors for years, a pattern of attacks that continued up to the moment he entered court on Monday, when he said: ‘“This is political persecution. This is a persecution like never before.”

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records that arose from an alleged effort to keep salacious — and, he says, bogus — stories about his sex life from emerging during his 2016 campaign.

The charges center on $130,000 in payments that Trump’s company made to Cohen. He had paid that sum on Trump’s behalf to keep Daniels from going public, a month before the election, with her claims of a sexual encounter with the married mogul a decade earlier.

Prosecutors say the payments to Cohen were falsely logged as legal fees in order to cloak their actual purpose. Trump’s lawyers say the disbursements indeed were legal expenses, not a cover-up.

After decades of fielding and initiating lawsuits, the businessman-turned-politician now faces a trial that could result in up to four years in prison if he’s convicted, though a no-jail sentence also would be possible. Trump would also be expected to appeal any conviction.

Trump’s attorneys lost a bid to get the hush-money case dismissed and have since repeatedly sought to delay it, prompting a flurry of last-minute appeals court hearings last week.

Among other things, Trump’s lawyers maintain that the jury pool in overwhelmingly Democratic Manhattan has been tainted by negative publicity about Trump and that the case should be moved elsewhere.

An appeals Judge turned down an emergency request to delay the trial while the change-of-venue request goes to a group of appellate Judges, who are set to consider it in the coming weeks.

Manhattan prosecutors have countered that a lot of the publicity stems from Trump’s own comments and that questioning will tease out whether prospective jurors can put aside any preconceptions they may have. There’s no reason, prosecutors said, to think that 12 fair and impartial people can’t be found amid Manhattan’s roughly 1.4 million adult residents.

The process of choosing those 12, plus six alternates, will begin with scores of people filing into Merchan’s courtroom. They will be known only by number, as he has ordered their names to be kept secret from everyone except prosecutors, Trump and their legal teams.

After hearing some basics about the case and jury service, the prospective jurors will be asked to raise hands if they believe they cannot serve or be fair and impartial. Those who do so will be excused, according to Merchan’s filing last week.

The rest will be eligible for questioning. The 42 preapproved, sometimes multipronged queries include background basics but also reflect the uniqueness of the case.

Image via AP.

“Do you have any strong opinions or firmly held beliefs about former President Donald Trump, or the fact that he is a current candidate for President, that would interfere with your ability to be a fair and impartial juror?” asks one question.

Others ask about attendance at Trump or anti-Trump rallies, opinions on how he’s being treated in the case, news sources and more — including any “political, moral, intellectual, or religious beliefs or opinions” that might “slant” a prospective juror’s approach to the case.

Based on the answers, the attorneys can ask a Judge to eliminate people “for cause” if they meet certain criteria for being unable to serve or be unbiased. The lawyers also can use “peremptory challenges” to nix 10 potential jurors and two prospective alternates without giving a reason.

“If you’re going to strike everybody who’s either a Republican or a Democrat,” the Judge observed at a February hearing, “you’re going to run out of peremptory challenges very quickly.”


Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • Biscuit

    April 15, 2024 at 4:23 pm

    I feel really, really bad for this Trump fellow…no, wait, I just needed to take a dump. I feel great now.

  • Dont Say FLA

    April 16, 2024 at 7:33 am

    Off with his threads! I would love to see the judge order Trump to put on clothes that actually fit him.

    • Tom

      April 16, 2024 at 10:19 am

      He should go for the athletic cut given his svelte 215lb frame. /s

      • rick whitaker

        April 16, 2024 at 10:30 am

        tom, 315, not 215

    • Impeach Biden

      April 16, 2024 at 4:26 pm

      Jerry Nadler dresses like a slob. It looks like he wets his pants too. Then there is John Fetterman and his fashion statement. Looks like he is going to rob a convenience store. Then again Schumer was okay with his lack of respect by dressing down as a US Senator. You Dems have room to talk. Now back to the anti-Trump orgy.

    • rick whitaker

      April 16, 2024 at 5:49 pm

      peachy, this is not about how trump dresses, or how fat and out of shape he is. it’s about him being a fraud, liar, rapist, thief, cheat, traitor, and most of all, a POS. all the fine senators you mentioned in your post were judged by you for their looks instead of integrity or anything connected to the subject. that speaks volumes as to your mentality. do you not know that in nearly all your posts you expose you weaknesses.

      • Impeach Biden

        April 16, 2024 at 6:44 pm

        So It’s all about appearance, weight, suit fit until it’s not. Funny. All of you were criticizing Trump and then the counter comes and then it’s not about appearance. By the way my hillbilly friend, I did not mention two senators. I mentioned one senator and one congressman. I thought you read books. Need to brush up my man. Can you tell me who is the senator and who is the congressman? What states do the y represent? You ain’t so smart after all how are ya? Peachy? Are you hitting on me? I don’t swing that way Mr Deliverance. 😜

        • rick whitaker

          April 16, 2024 at 10:50 pm

          peachy, you flat lied to me. in one post you said one thing and in another you said the opposite, so one post is a lie. you lie quite regularly. i guess you got that from watching thump lie every day for years, so you thought that was the honorable thing to do. after all the president does it so it must be right. BTW i can name most all congress senate by state and party. i know nadler is a congressperson, he’s one of my favorites.

        • Dont Say FLA

          April 22, 2024 at 3:39 pm

          Hey IBS, did you know, Senators are Congressmen.

          People from the House of Representatives chamber of Congress, frequently referred to as Representatives, they are also Congressmen.

          Did you know that? Seems like you didn’t. Now you know.

          The more you know. Star star star star, diminishing trail of stars…..

      • Dont Say FLA

        April 22, 2024 at 3:35 pm

        I’m good making fun of how Trump dresses, and how fat and out of shape he is. Reason being because he claims, on those topics, the opposite of reality.

        I am also good making fun of Trump for being a fraud, liar, rapist, thief, cheat, traitor, and most of all, a POS. And I guess I’m good with it for the same reasons as his clothes and physical flabbery. Trump claims everyone else is the fraud, the liar, the rapist, the thief, the cheat, the traitor, and most of all, the POS, when in reality, that’s all Trump. Every accusation the man makes is a confession.

        Everything he says is all about him. Trump has no capacity to think of anyone but himself, no capacity to think outside himself, therefore the insults he hurls at everyone, they’re all confessions.

        If only his confessions were therapeutic, he’d be Jesus by now, perhaps even living up to his self-claims.

  • rick whitaker

    April 16, 2024 at 11:29 am

    DSF, an orange man in an orange suit, drinking jailhouse fake orange juice, thinking about how oj got off and i’m white and i didn’t get off. sad orange man with orange tears.

    • Impeach Biden

      April 16, 2024 at 4:50 pm

      Of course that jury on the OJ trial
      was not racist. 😜

      • rick whitaker

        April 16, 2024 at 6:14 pm

        peachy, they share one thing that the trump jurors has, lots of fear as to what will happen to them after the trial. in the oj case it was accumulated black anger about the police. in the case of the trump jurors, it’s trump’s thuggery that scares the jurors. not racism, but fear from violence caused by a maniac like trump. trump, that’s your guy on trial for crime, not oj. you conflate and play the what- a -boutism card a whole lot. this is a childish ploy as you have been told, but you don’t care about being childish or you wouldn’t play that childish card so much. grow up dude.

  • Andrew Finn

    April 16, 2024 at 12:16 pm

    The chances of Donald Trump actually serving time in jail is about zero – nada – zippo percent. Jailing a former (soon to be next) President will never happen. Maybe a little fine if convicted, but even that will be overturned on appeal. Also remember this — Trump does not have to get 12 not guilty votes. All he needs is 1 not guilty holdout to throw the whole trial into the old “toilet of legality” and end this farce. MAGA – BABY – MAGA !!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Dont Say FLA

      April 16, 2024 at 3:37 pm

      I think Snoring Don is going to get himself tossed in jail for contempt on purpose in a very sad attempt at trying to lift his Turnip Truck Media stock valued above “totally worthless”

    • rick whitaker

      April 16, 2024 at 9:18 pm

      andrew just what brand of pos are you. your comments range from delusions to purposeful lies. you support maga when maga is looked upon worldwide as a form of mental illness. WTF dude.

  • rick whitaker

    April 16, 2024 at 12:21 pm


    • Impeach Biden

      April 16, 2024 at 5:19 pm

      My apologies Rick. I thought you said that you liked dick. 🤣

      • rick whitaker

        April 16, 2024 at 6:52 pm

        peachy, is that supposed to be funny? you need to pay better attention. i said trump is a dick. NOW, is that clear enough for you. i know you struggle to keep up , but i will be patient as long as i can stand it. i’m 71 years old dude, that childish bull don’t do anything for me. get that maga lie soup out of your head dude. there’s a bright positive world out there if you choose to be more positive and less fearful. i don’t have any faith that you will ever wake up as you once told me. your life dude, not mine. i can’t wake you up, you need to do that to your self.

        • Impeach Biden

          April 16, 2024 at 7:10 pm

          A seventy one year old calling me a dude. I would prefer bro, dude. 🤣

          • rick whitaker

            April 16, 2024 at 7:56 pm

            peachy, that’s why i called you dude, dude. i am 71 but since i have been a vegetarian for over 55 years, and don’t drink, i am in great health. my positive attitude and a hard work ethic has worked for me. good thing i saved my money because i could live for many more years.

          • Impeach Biden

            April 16, 2024 at 9:35 pm

            Left of Bernie Sanders. You don’t like Reagan. Now you tell me you are a vegan. I’m getting a picture of you and it’s not a positive one. Did you do your homework and figure out who is the Senator and who is the congressman on the thread above?

          • rick whitaker

            April 16, 2024 at 9:53 pm

            peachy, you don’t read or comprehend well it seems. i did not say i was a vegan. i am a vegetarian, not a vegan you fool. ok, i guess you now know that you mentioned 2 senators and one congressperson. not one of each. you keep forgetting your lies so you got it confused. why are you so obsessed with proving me wrong just because your own comments are so wrong and full of out n out lies. does it make you feel better to project your weaknesses off on other people like trump does daily? projection is one of your most used tools. name-calling, conflation, and what- about- ism are some of your other well used tools. i challenge you to look those 4 tools up for their meanings, and then look back at some of your old post’ so you can see what i’m talking about. your use of those 4 tools is done in a textbook manner.

          • Peachy

            April 17, 2024 at 5:26 am

            Go back to the top of the thread. I never once said two + 1. Read it slowly you old fool. I guess you have reached the point of Slo Joe. You now need cue cards or a teleprompter. Vegan / vegetarian? You got me. I am obviously neither one. Name calling? You do it to.

          • rick whitaker

            April 19, 2024 at 12:01 am

            peachy, the fact that you do not know the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan means you are way dumber than i thought. you also have a low self esteem problem. go jack off to a ronald raygun picture you inane fool.

    • Andrew Finn

      April 17, 2024 at 9:38 am

      Well, as the old saying goes —- “It takes one to know one” —- Nyuk – Nyuk – Nyuk !!!!!!!!

      • rick whitaker

        April 19, 2024 at 12:03 am

        andrew, it takes an ahole to know an ahole huh? i’m a big ahole and you’re a much bigger ahole. so i guess you’re right.

  • Michael K

    April 16, 2024 at 2:39 pm

    Remember when schtupping a porn star for pay while your wife is pregnant, having an affair with a Playboy model, and boasting about grabbing women by their genitals would have disqualified someone from seeking the presidency? Not to mention violating campaign finance laws for hush money or paying off the National Enquirer, and multiple bankruptcy claims. Yet many so-called “Christians” seem to think Trump is the Almighty.

    • rick whitaker

      April 17, 2024 at 12:42 pm

      MICHAEL, what-about-ism’ and name-calling has erased things for some people. me not being religious, i don’t forget or forgive that quick. any connection to national enquirer or bankruptcy would be all i would have to hear, once.

Comments are closed.


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