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Full jury seated at Trump trial on third day of selection process

Full jury selected for Trump's "hush money" trial
Full jury selected for Trump's New York "hush money" trial 03:10

Twelve New Yorkers have been selected to serve as jurors in former President Donald Trump's criminal trial in Manhattan, filling out the panel on the third day of proceedings.

The 12 jurors include seven men and five women, chosen from a pool of dozens of potential jurors who submitted to questioning about their personal lives and political views. The selection process will continue Friday, since six alternate jurors are needed before the trial can move to opening arguments. One alternate had been selected as of Thursday afternoon.

"We have our jury," Judge Juan Merchan said after the new jurors swore an oath to decide the case in a "fair and impartial manner." Trump, seated at the defense table, stared at the newly sworn-in members as they exited the courtroom.

Merchan said the court is on track to begin opening statements as soon as Monday. Prosecutors will present their case first.

Before court ended for the day, Trump's attorney Todd Blanche asked if the defense could find out the names of the first three witnesses prosecutors plan to call to the stand. Joshua Steinglass, a prosecutor in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office, replied that doing so is a courtesy they normally extend, but refused in this case. 

"Mr. Trump has been tweeting about the witnesses. We're not telling them who the witnesses are," Steinglass said. 

Merchan said he "can't blame them." Blanche seemed mystified, and asked if the defense is not going to find out who the witnesses are until they walk in the door. He offered to "commit to the court and the [prosecution] that President Trump will not [post] about any witness" on Truth Social, Trump's social media platform.

"I don't think you can make that representation," Merchan said.

Blanche offered another solution: giving the witness names only to the lawyers, who wouldn't share them with Trump.

"I'm not going to order them to do it, no," said Merchan. "I'll see you tomorrow morning."

Day 3 of jury selection

Former President Donald Trump listens to potential jurors answer questions on Day 3 of his criminal trial in New York on Thursday, April 18, 2024.
Former President Donald Trump listens to potential jurors answer questions on Day 3 of his criminal trial in New York on Thursday, April 18, 2024. Jane Rosenberg

Setbacks earlier in the day briefly threatened to derail Merchan's plans to quickly finalize the jury and move on to opening statements. Two jurors who had been selected earlier in the week were excused, including one woman who expressed concerns about being identified publicly and her ability to remain impartial.

The woman said her friends and family asked her if she was a juror based on information in media reports. She said she "definitely has concerns now." 

"Aspects of my identity have already been out there in public. Yesterday alone, I had friends and family push things to me," she told the court on Thursday. "I don't think at this point that I can be fair and unbiased."

Merchan immediately reprimanded the press for reporting what he said was too much information about the jurors. He ordered that questions about potential jurors' employers would be redacted from the court record moving forward, and directed reporters not to mention jurors' physical appearance.

Prosecutors also raised concerns about Juror #4, saying they discovered information about someone sharing the person's name who was arrested and potentially involved in a corruption investigation in the 1990s. The man arrived late to court and was briefly questioned by attorneys in front of the judge, out of earshot from the court's microphones. Merchan ultimately decided to dismiss the man.

Both of the excused jurors were replaced later in the afternoon as a new cohort of 96 Manhattan residents filled the courtroom. Half of the new group — 48 — said they could not be impartial and were immediately excused. Nine others were dismissed for other reasons, which were not disclosed. Those who remained underwent a 42-question assessment to glean their feelings about Trump and their ability to fairly decide the outcome of the first criminal trial of a former president in U.S. history.

Some were confronted by Trump's attorneys with social media posts dating back years before they were excused. One woman was shown posts she wrote years earlier, including one in which she called Trump a "racist, sexist narcissist." The woman was embarrassed and apologized, saying she did not remember writing the posts and that her views had softened in recent years. She was ultimately dismissed.

Trump pleaded not guilty when 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. He 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.

"I'm supposed to be in New Hampshire. I'm supposed to be in Georgia. I'm supposed to be in North Carolina. South Carolina," the presumptive Republican nominee for president said in the hallway outside the courtroom. "I'm supposed to be a lot of different places, campaigning. But I've been here all day on a trial that really is a very unfair trial."

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