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Donald Trump Alamy Stock Photo
New York

Trump trial juror dismissed after expressing concerns her identity may have been revealed

Judge Juan Merchan is hoping to empanel 12 jurors and six alternates by the end of the week and have opening arguments on Monday.

A SELECTED JUROR for the Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York has been excused by the judge after expressing concerns that her identity had been revealed.

Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the blockbuster case, is hoping to empanel 12 jurors and six alternates by the end of the week and have opening arguments on Monday.

Trump, 77, who is seeking to recapture the White House in November, is accused of falsifying business records on the eve of his 2016 election victory to cover up a sexual encounter with a porn star.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Seven anonymous jurors had been selected earlier this week but the process suffered a setback today when one of those chosen was excused by the judge after expressing concerns that her identity had been revealed.

A unanimous verdict will be required to convict Trump and prosecutors and his attorneys are subjecting prospective jurors to intensive questioning as they seek to fashion a panel to their liking.

Potential jurors are being grilled, for example, about their media consumption, political donations, education and whether they have ever attended a pro- or anti-Trump rally.

About half of the first batch of 96 jurors ushered into the courtroom today were immediately excused after stating they would be unable to be fair and impartial in a case involving one of the most famous and controversial men in the country.

Trump, seated at the defence table in a dark suit and blue tie, turned around to watch them file out of court.

Trump motorcaded to the Manhattan courthouse from his luxury apartment building and – breaking with his past practice – did not make any comments to waiting reporters on his arrival.

The criminal trial, expected to last six to eight weeks, is the first ever for a former US president and comes as Trump is taking on Democratic President Joe Biden in a bid to make a shock return to the White House in November.

The Republican faces three other criminal cases, including on far more serious charges of attempting to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden, but these have been repeatedly delayed.

Warned by judge

Trump has been ordered by the judge to attend every day, forcing the scandal-tainted real estate tycoon to exchange the campaign trail for the unglamorous confines of a rundown courthouse.

The reality that Trump is no longer in control of his image – or fate – while in court is something that the former president, a born showman who has constantly flouted the norms and rules of political life, has rarely experienced.

The judge has made it clear he will tolerate none of Trump’s habitual grandstanding, sternly warning him earlier this week when he began to mutter and gesture towards prospective jurors.

“I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom,” Merchan said.

Merchan has also warned Trump against intimidating people connected to the case on social media.

The judge scheduled a hearing next week to consider whether Trump should already be held in contempt for violating a partial gag order prohibiting him from attacking witnesses, jurors, court staff or their families.

After the empaneled juror was excused today, Merchan asked reporters covering the trial to stop providing a physical description of the potential jurors and not to identify their place of employment.

If convicted, the twice-impeached Trump would potentially face prison, but legal observers say fines would be more likely.

© AFP 2024