12 jurors have been picked for Donald Trump’s hush money trial. Selection of alternates is ongoing

Former President Donald Trump speaks with the media while holding news clippings following his trial Thursday at Manhattan criminal court in New York. (Brendan McDermid/Pool Photo via AP)

NEW YORK — A jury of 12 people was seated Thursday in former President Donald Trump’s history-making hush money trial, propelling the proceedings closer to opening statements and the start of weeks of dramatic testimony.

The court quickly turned to selecting alternate jurors, with the process on track to wrap up by the end of the week. Prosecutors could begin presenting their case early next week.


The jury of Manhattanites includes a sales professional, a software engineer, a security engineer, a teacher, a speech therapist, multiple lawyers, an investment banker and a retired wealth manager.

The first-ever trial of a former American president is unfolding in New York during this year’s race for the White House, meaning the presumptive Republican nominee will spend his days in court confronted by salacious and unflattering testimony about his personal life while simultaneously campaigning to reclaim the office he held for four years.

He’s made clear his determination to use his legal jeopardy, already a central issue in the race against Democratic incumbent Joe Biden, to his advantage. After a full day of jury selection, he complained to reporters that he should have been out campaigning but was in court instead for what he said was a “very unfair trial.”

“Everybody’s outraged by it,” he said. “You know the whole world’s watching this New York scam.”

Jury selection proceeded at a plodding pace earlier Thursday when two jurors were dismissed, one after expressing doubt about her ability to be fair following disclosure of details about her identity and the other over concerns that some of his answers in court may have been inaccurate.

But lawyers who began the day with only five jurors settled on the remaining seven in quick succession, along with one alternate. Judge Juan Merchan has said his goal is to have six alternates.

The process of picking a jury is a critical phase in any criminal trial but especially so when the defendant is a former president and the presumptive Republican nominee. Prospective jurors have been grilled on their social media posts, personal lives and political views as the lawyers and judge search for any bias that would prevent them from being impartial.

Inside the court, there’s broad acknowledgment of the futility in trying to find jurors without knowledge of Trump.

A prosecutor this week said lawyers were not looking for people who had been “living under a rock for the past eight years.”

To that end, multiple jurors chosen for the panel acknowledged having personal opinions of Trump or his presidency.

One juror, a man who works in investment banking, earlier described himself as “ambivalent” about Trump, adding, “I might not like some of his policies, but there has been some good” for the country.

A woman picked for the jury said she thought Trump seemed “very selfish and self serving,” adding, “I don’t really appreciate that from any public servant.” Defense lawyers were out of peremptory strikes, which would allow them to dismiss a juror without giving a reason.

The trial centers on a $130,000 payment that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer, made to porn actor Stormy Daniels to prevent her claims of a sexual encounter with Trump from becoming public in the final days of the 2016 race.

Prosecutors say Trump obscured the true nature of the payments in internal records when his company reimbursed Cohen, who pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2018 and is expected to be a star witness for the prosecution.

Trump has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels, and his lawyers argue that the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal expenses.

Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. He could get up to four years in prison if convicted, though it’s not clear that the judge would opt to put him behind bars. Trump would almost certainly appeal any conviction.

Trump faces four criminal cases, but it’s not clear that any others will reach trial before the November election.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiwarriorworld@staradvertiser.com.