Trump to return to court today for Day 3 of his New York criminal trial

Prosecutors and attorneys for former President Donald Trump will meet a new cohort of Manhattan residents Thursday, as they enter the third day of jury selection in Trump’s New York criminal trial.

Seven New Yorkers were selected on Tuesday, or Day Two, to serve as jurors in the first criminal trial of a former president in U.S. history. They were part of an initial batch of 96 residents who were first asked, in bulk, to identify themselves and they were asked if they believed they could be impartial while deciding a case involving Trump. More than half of that group said they could not and were immediately excused. The remaining people were whittled down through questioning from lawyers and the judge, Juan Merchan. 

Some had scheduling issues that might conflict with serving on a trial that could last up to two months, while others later concluded — after spending hours in the room with Trump and hearing about the case — that they, too, couldn’t be impartial. More than two dozen answered, one at a time and out loud, a 42-question assessment designed to help the lawyers glean their feelings about Trump and ability to fairly decide the case.

Finally, a smaller group was questioned individually as consultants for the lawyers pored through their online lives. Some were confronted by Trump’s attorneys with social media posts dating back years before they were excused. Each side in the case is allowed 10 peremptory challenges, enabling them to excuse a potential juror without explanation, and there are an unlimited number of “for cause” challenges, which call for a person to be excused if there’s a clear conflict.

Former President Donald Trump leads Polish President Andrzej Duda as he arrives at Trump Tower on April 17, 2024, in New York City.
Former President Donald Trump leads Polish President Andrzej Duda as he arrives at Trump Tower on April 17, 2024, in New York City.  Michael M Santiago / Getty Images

With a new batch of 96 Manhattanites set to be considered Thursday, there are five jurors yet to be seated, and each side has four peremptories remaining. The attorneys will also select up to six alternate jurors, and the two sides will receive five more peremptory challenges during that process.

Trump entered a not guilty plea after he was indicted more than a year ago on 34 felony counts of falsification of business records. He denies all allegations in the case, which revolves around reimbursements to former attorney Michael Cohen, for a “hush money” payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Prosecutors say Trump covered up the reimbursements in order to distance himself from the payment, which days before the 2016 presidential election temporarily bought Daniels’ silence about an alleged affair. Trump has also denied having the affair.

Trump has raged against the case, accusing prosecutors of charging him for political reasons. He has also frequently lashed out at the judge on social media, accusing Merchan of bias. But in the courtroom, Trump has been largely quiet and reserved, even appearing to nod off from time to time.

Still, Merchan had to warn Trump on Tuesday about “audibly uttering something … speaking in the direction of the juror” under questioning at the time about one of her social media posts. 

“I won’t tolerate that. I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom. I want to make that crystal clear,” Merchan said. 

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