Jury selection continues in criminal hush money case

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Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press after the first day of his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, U.S. on April 15, 2024. 

Angela Weiss | Via Reuters

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Jury selection in the New York criminal hush money trial of former President Donald Trump is set to continue Tuesday, after the first day ended without anyone on the 12-person panel being seated.

Monday’s session in Manhattan Supreme Court revealed some of the many challenges of prosecuting Trump, the highly polarizing presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Of the first 96 potential jurors brought in for the proceeding, more than half were excused after saying that they could not be fair or impartial to Trump.

His attorneys, meanwhile, received chilly responses from Judge Juan Merchan when they asked to adjust the trial schedule so that Trump can attend other events, including a Supreme Court hearing on his request for presidential immunity in another criminal case and his youngest son’s high school graduation.

Merchan did not reject those requests outright, but also did not immediately grant them.

Trump then griped outside of court after the session that Merchan was preventing him from attending Barron Trump’s graduation.

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Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records as part of a scheme to hide a $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg accuses Trump of trying to influence that election by buying the silence of Daniels, who says she had a one-time sexual tryst with Trump years earlier. Trump denies having sex with Daniels.

Bragg’s prosecutors opposed Trump’s request to travel to Washington, D.C., on April 25 to hear Supreme Court oral arguments related to his criminal election interference case in federal court in Washington. Trump faces criminal charges in two other cases besides that and the hush money case.

A prosecutor for Bragg on Monday also asked Merchan to sanction Trump for violating his gag order by sending multiple recent social media posts that referenced Daniels and Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer who allegedly facilitated the hush money payments.

Before his motorcade left Trump Tower for the courthouse Tuesday morning, Trump sent a Truth Social post lashing out at Merchan and demanding that the gag order be removed.

“This conflicted, Trump Hating Judge won’t let me respond to people that are on TV lying and spewing hate all day long,” Trump posted.

“He is running rough shod over my lawyers and legal team,” he said of the judge. “I want to speak, or at least be able to respond. Election Interference! RIGGED, UNCONSTITUTIONAL TRIAL! Take off the Gag Order!!!”

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