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Former US President Donald Trump awaiting the start of proceedings today Alamy Stock Photo
stormy daniels

Irish man included in first six jurors chosen for Donald Trump’s hush money criminal trial

Yesterday, more than half of the first batch of 96 prospects were excused after signaling they could not be impartial.


THE FIRST SIX jurors, including one Irish person, have been chosen for Donald Trump’s hush money trial after lawyers grilled members of the jury pool about their social media posts, political views and personal lives to decide whether they can sit in fair judgment of the former US president.

No other US ex-president has faced a criminal trial and the pressure is high on both sides to get a dozen jurors able to sit in judgment of a man running to return to the White House this November.

After a preliminary phase in which prospective jurors could opt out if they felt unable to be impartial or had other extenuating circumstances, prosecutors began detailed questioning of an initial panel of 12, and Trump’s defense team followed.

Six jurors had been accepted and sworn in by the end of today, and told they need not return to court until Monday, when the judge said opening statements would begin.

The New York Times and ABC News have reported that the foreperson, juror number one, is an Irish-born man. 

For Trump to be convicted of his alleged fraud in a scheme to cover up an embarrassing alleged extramarital encounter with a porn star, the jury must render a unanimous verdict. Even one dissenting voice would see him walk free.

The painstaking process is expected to take as long as two weeks before arguments can even begin, eating deep into the presidential campaign.

Trump, 77, has been ordered by Judge Juan Merchan to be in court daily and on arrival Tuesday for day two, the Republican White House hopeful was fuming.

“I should be right now in Pennsylvania and Florida – in many other states, North Carolina, Georgia – campaigning,” Trump said, calling Merchan “Trump-hating”.

‘Fascinating and mysterious’

Merchan has warned Trump against repeating his frequent past attempts to turn hearings into impromptu campaign appearances with outbursts at witnesses and staff, as well as tirades on social media.

The judge has already scheduled a hearing next week to consider whether Trump should be held in contempt for violating a partial gag order restricting him from attacking individuals connected to the case.

Illustrating the extraordinary tension, potential jurors have been told they will remain anonymous to the public throughout the proceedings. Merchan said this is to protect them from possible bribery or physical harm.

But selecting 12 ordinary citizens to judge one of the most famous – and controversial – figures in the country is no easy matter.

Yesterday, more than half of the first batch of 96 prospects were excused after signaling they could not be impartial.

Today, a panel of 12 prospective jurors and six alternates were grilled on their media consumption, political donations and education.

A young Black woman in the pool of candidates said that, as a person of color, she has friends with strong opinions on Trump.

“You can’t judge him because he speaks his mind,” said another prospective juror.

A third jury candidate said he found Trump “fascinating and mysterious”, prompting Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche to respond, “Umm, alright. Thank you”.

Trump appeared to eye prospective jurors in the jury box as they each answered ‘yes’ to a prosecutor’s question about whether they would be able to return a guilty verdict.

Prospective jurors were then asked individually about social media posts.

Other cases

Trump faces three other criminal cases centred on his possession of top-secret documents after leaving office and his unprecedented attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden.

Those trials are arguably weightier in content, but Trump has succeeded in prompting continued delays, meaning they may not start before the 5 November election.

In New York, the Republican is accused of falsifying business records while covering up an alleged extramarital sexual encounter with adult film actress Stormy Daniels to shield his first election campaign, in 2016, from last-minute upheaval.

If convicted in the hush money case, Trump would potentially face prison, but legal observers say fines would be more likely. The maximum sentence would be four years for each count.

© AFP 2024 with reporting by Press Association and Hayley Halpin