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Trump hush money trial: Court is in recess today

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(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York City, where he is facing felony charges related to a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. It marks the first time in history that a former U.S. president has been tried on criminal charges.

Trump last April pleaded not guilty to a 34-count indictment charging him with falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to Daniels in order to boost his electoral prospects in the 2016 presidential election.

Jury selection could take up to two weeks, with the entire trial expected to last between six and eight weeks.

Here’s how the news is developing:

Apr 17, 8:27 AM
Court is in recess today

Court is not in session today in former President Trump’s criminal hush money trial, as the trial schedule has a full-day recess every Wednesday.

Yesterday saw the first seven jurors in the case seated. Eleven more jurors — six of them alternates — remain to be chosen.

The selection of the first jurors was one of the four big takeaways from Day 2 of the trial Tuesday.

Apr 16, 5:58 PM
Trump vows to continue fight against judge

Former President Donald Trump vowed to continue his effort to have the judge overseeing his case removed, as he exited the courtroom after a lengthy trial day.

“We are going to continue our fight against this judge,” Trump told reporters, acknowledging he is having a “hard time with the New York state system.”

Judge Juan Merchan denied Trump’s second recusal motion on Monday, and an appellate court denied his effort to have the case delayed over the recusal effort last week.

“We have a very conflicted, highly conflicted judge. He shouldn’t be on the case. He’s rushing this trail, and he’s doing as much as he can for the Democrats,” Trump said, without evidence, before his motorcade departed the courthouse.

Apr 16, 5:50 PM
Day ends with seven jurors selected, 11 more to go

After seating the seventh juror in the case, Judge Juan Merchan reiterated his hope that opening statements could commence Monday if the remaining jurors are selected by then.

Until then, “put the case out of your mind,” Merchan told the seventh juror. “Don’t think about it, don’t talk about it.”

The judge then concluded the proceedings for the day. Court will be in recess on Wednesday, and jury selection will resume Thursday with the fresh batch of 96 prospective jurors.

With seven jurors now seated, 11 more jurors — six of them alternates — remain to be chosen.

Apr 16, 5:40 PM
Judge swears in seventh juror

Judge Juan Merchan has sworn in and seated a seventh juror, selecting the North Carolina-born civil litigator who now resides on the Upper East Side, after neither party challenged his selection.

Prosecutors used two preemptory strikes on the real estate developer and former police photographer, who had both made it to the final round of questioning.

Merchan excused them both before swearing in the seventh juror.

The trial’s first six jurors were sworn in and seated earlier Tuesday.

Apr 16, 5:30 PM
First six jurors represent cross-section of New York

The first six jurors selected to serve in Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial represent a diverse cross-section of New York City, according to their biographical information. Here’s a brief sketch of each juror, whose identities are being kept private for security reasons:

Juror No. 1 is a middle-aged salesman who immigrated to the United States from Ireland. He lives in West Harlem and said he normally gets his news from the New York Times, Daily Mail, Fox News and MSNBC. In his spare time, he said he enjoys doing “anything outdoorsy.”

Juror No. 2 works as an oncology nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering. She lives with her fiancé and enjoys taking her dog for walks in the park. She said she gets her news from The New York Times, CNN, Google, and Facebook.

Juror 3 is a corporate attorney who moved to New York from Oregon five years ago. He has worked at two major white-shoe law firms in New York. He said he normally gets his news from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Google. In his spare time, he said he enjoys hiking and running.

Juror No. 4 said he finds the former president to be “fascinating and mysterious.” Originally from Puerto Rico, he has lived in the Lower East Side for the last 40 years. He is a self-employed IT consultant who attended one year of college and has been “married for a long time.” He normally gets his news from the Daily News, The New York Times, and Google.

Juror No. 5 was the only potential juror who raised her hand when lawyers asked if they had ever heard of Trump’s other criminal cases. A life-long New Yorker, she currently works as an ELA teacher in a charter school and lives in Harlem. She normally gets her news from Google and TikTok but said that she “doesn’t really care for the news.”

Juror No. 6 is a software engineer who works for the Walt Disney Company, which is the parent company of ABC News. She grew up in New York City and lives in Chelsea with three roommates. She said she gets her news from The New York Times and TikTok. In her spare time, she said she enjoys plays, restaurants, dancing, and watching TV.

Apr 16, 5:21 PM
Three prospective jurors remain from original 96

Three prospective jurors now remain from the first group of 96, and they’re facing questions from Trump attorney Todd Blanche after fielding questions from prosecutor Susan Hoffinger regarding their jury questionnaire.

The three are a civil litigator, a real estate developer, and a retired New York Police Department photographer.

Asked what he thought about Trump’s book The Art of the Deal, which he previously stated that he had read, the real estate developer said, “I felt it was entertaining.” He added that, as a developer, he was “an admirer from afar of some of the work” Trump has done, but he has no opinion on “how he conducts himself.”

The civil litigator claimed to know “virtually nothing” about criminal law.

Trump, watching from the defense table, leaned back in his chair slightly and alternated looking ahead and in the direction of the prospective jurors as they read aloud their answers from the questionnaire.

Apr 16, 5:10 PM
Handful of jury prospects remain from initial group of 96

Four of the six remaining prospective jurors from the initial batch of 96 have ticked through their jury questionnaire, after which two were excused, leaving two still in the running to be selected.

A fifth prospect, a retired New York Police Department photographer, was going through his questionnaire.

A prospective juror who is a real estate developer advanced to the next round. He said he read The Art of the Deal a “long time ago” and alerted the court to tangential relationships with the former president.

“There are people that I know that know the president,” he said. “It wouldn’t in any way influence my thinking … but I just wanted to state for the record that that’s out there.”

Among prospective jurors who were excused in the latest round was a North Carolina-born civil litigator and a doctor who asked to be excused to care for her patients. A history teacher at an all-girls’ school was excused after she said her opinions about Trump might interfere with her ability to serve impartially.

Apr 16, 4:20 PM
Judge swears in second group of 96 prospective jurors

With six seats filled on the jury that will determine the outcome of Donald Trump’s first criminal trial, a new group of 96 New Yorkers was ushered into the courtroom and sworn in as prospective jurors.

Many of them craned their necks to get a look at the defendant.

“Ma’am, ma’am, put your cellphone away,” a court security officer told one woman who tried to pull out her phone after spotting Trump.

One man and woman were seen whispering feverishly to one another.

After members of the group were sworn in, Judge Merchan told them he was sending them home for the day.

“I know that you’ve been sitting around all day, waiting for something to happen, and I want you to know that that wasn’t lost on us,” Merchan said, telling them the proceedings would start right away when they return Thursday morning following Wednesday’s day off.

Before the new panel was brought in, the judge asked Trump’s defense team to confirm that the social media posts it’s been digging up are all are public. Trump attorney Todd Blanche confirmed they were.

Apr 16, 4:01 PM
Judge suggests arguments could begin early next week

After selecting and swearing in the first six jurors, Judge Juan Merchan asked them to return on Monday unless they hear otherwise from the court — suggesting that opening statements could happen as soon as early next week.

The judge, however, cautioned that seating the remaining jurors may not happen by then.

“We don’t know exactly how long that will last,” Merchan said.

Apr 16, 3:48 PM
Six jurors now seated

Judge Juan Merchan has now seated and sworn in six jurors to sit in judgment of former President Trump, after each side used several preemptory strikes and other prospective jurors were stricken over politically-charged social media posts.

“You are the first six jurors selected for this trial,” Merchan said.

Juror No. 1, the foreperson, is a man born in Ireland who works in sales and lives in West Harlem.

Juror No. 2 is an oncology nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering who lives on the Upper East Side.

Juror No. 3 is an attorney who lives in Chelsea.

Juror No. 4 is an IT consultant who lives on the Lower East Side and is originally from Puerto Rico.

Juror No. 5 is a charter school teacher from Harlem.

Juror No. 6 is a software employee who works for Disney and lives in Chelsea.

Apr 16, 3:42 PM
First 3 jurors seated

Three jurors from the first batch of 96 prospects have been selected for the jury.

After the defense raised a series of motions to remove jurors for cause, citing their social media posts, Judge Juan Merchan formally approved three jurors:

– an Irish-born salesman;

– an oncology nurse; and

– an attorney who lives in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.

The selections came after Judge Merchan blocked one other motion from the defense to strike a juror for cause and granted another.

The juror Merchan agreed to remove was an Upper West Side bookseller who recently re-posted an AI video to social media mocking Trump, which included a fake Trump saying, “I’m dumb as f—.”

“I thought it would be funny,” the juror said.

The government then used three of its ten preemptory strikes and the defense used four.

Apr 16, 3:18 PM
Judge removes juror whose post said ‘lock him up’

After declining to strike a potential juror for her Facebook content, Judge Merchan granted a defense motion to strike another juror for a social media post.

“Good news!!” the post read. “Trump lost his court battle on his unlawful travel ban!!!”

If the post ended there, Judge Merchan said, he would allow him to remain in contention. But the post didn’t stop there.

“Get him out and lock him up,” the post continued.

Those post shows the prospective juror expressing “the desire that Trump be locked up,” Merchan said. “Everyone knows that if Mr. Trump” is found guilty, he could face prison time.

“I don’t think I can allow this juror to remain,” the judge said, before agreeing to strike the juror.

Apr 16, 3:06 PM
Judge declines defense’s motion to remove juror

Judge Merchan declined to strike for cause the prospective juror who posted what the defense called “hostile” Facebook videos, explaining that he believed the juror when she told the court that she would follow the facts of the case.

“I don’t want a juror on this panel who lies to us. I don’t want a juror on this panel who misleads us,” he said. “And for this reason, I did want to hear from the juror.”

Ultimately, Merchan found her assurances to be honest.

“I was able to see her demeanor, I was able to hear her voice,” he said. “That juror looked me right in the eye, and when she said she could be fair and impartial, she meant it.”

“I find her to be credible,” Merchan concluded, before denying the defense motion to remove her from the jury.

Apr 16, 2:54 PM
Judge scolds Trump for ‘muttering’ at prospective juror

As jury selection resumed for the afternoon session, Judge Juan Merchan scolded former President Trump over his audible “muttering” while a prospective juror was speaking.

“Your client was audibly muttering something,” the judge told Trump’s attorneys. “He was speaking in the direction of the juror. I will not tolerate that. I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom. I want to make that crystal clear. Take a minute and speak to your client.”

The interaction occurred after Trump’s defense attorney sought to immediately strike potential jurors for cause based on social media posts that he said contradicted their assertions of fairness.

“There’s a number of the jurors that we have social media posts for very much contrary to the answers that they gave,” defense attorney Todd Blanche said.

Blanche pointed to a woman who he said has a “series of extraordinarily hostile Facebook posts.”

One of the posts read, “So I’ve been in the middle of the ocean for the last few weeks. What’s going on?”

Another post included a video of people celebrating near Manhattan’s 96th Street and the words, “Full-on dance party at 96 Street.”

Judge Merchan seemed baffled. “Show me the bias,” the judge said. “I’m trying to understand. How does this call into question what the juror said when that juror was answering questions?”

Blanche insisted the post, a day after the 2020 election, was a celebration of Trump’s loss.

“This is ridiculous,” prosecutor Josh Steinglass said.

The judge determined “there are enough questions here” to allow the defense to question the woman about her posts.

“I think I went to the car to alternate-side parking or something like that and there were people dancing in the street,” the woman said, adding that it reminded her of the pandemic-era cheer for health workers.

“I understand that bias exists,” the woman said. “The job of the juror is to understand the facts of the trial.”

When the woman left the room, that’s when the judge scolded Trump.

Apr 16, 2:41 PM
Jury selection resumes after break

Former President Trump is back at the defense table as court resumes after the lunch break.

While on break, Trump shared on his social media platform a newspaper opinion piece calling his former attorney Michael Cohen a “serial perjurer” and a “legal thug.”

The former president, who is under a limited gag order prohibiting him from targeting witnesses in the case, did not add any comment of his own.

Apr 16, 1:24 PM
‘Feelings are not facts,’ prospective juror says

Defense attorney Todd Blanche finished questioning the first group of potential jurors, including asking them to think about their social media usage and whether it affects their opinion of Trump.

Blanche asked a man born in Mexico who became a U.S. citizen when Trump was president if that would color his jury experience.

“I think the media and the opinions of my Facebook friends are inconsequential to this trial,” the man said. “Feelings are not facts.”

A woman who had said she had been living in a WiFi-free lake house for much of February and March said she didn’t know much about the case, but she knew about Trump’s policies. She said she had “very little agreement policy-wise” with Trump, but told Blanche she “didn’t sleep last night” because she was thinking so hard about fairness and impartiality.

“You want your client to have a fair shake. I will do my level-headed best to make sure that happens,” she said.

This part of the day clearly interested Trump. He turned his body in the direction of the jury box, shifting his gaze from his lawyer to the people who may sit in judgment of him.

Judge Juan Merchan subsequently recessed the court for a lunch break.

Apr 16, 1:14 PM
Prospective jurors asked how they see Trump

What do you make of Trump?

In answering that question from attorneys, prospective jurors are painting a portrait of the man seated at the defendant’s table — complete with his complexities and his merits.

“President Trump speaks his mind,” said one juror, a young black woman who teaches at a charter school. “And I’d rather that than someone who’s in office who you don’t know what they’re thinking.”

“He walks into a room, and he sets people off — one way or another,” the juror said. “I find that really interesting. Really — this one guy can do all of this. ‘Wow’ — that’s what I think.”

Trump smirked when another prospective juror said, “He stirs the pot.”

“He speaks his mind,” she said. “You can’t judge him because he speaks his mind.”

Apr 16, 12:56 PM
‘I find him fascinating,’ prospective juror says of Trump

Trump attorney Todd Blanche sought to “test” jury candidates on their assurances that his client would “get a fair shake” as he began his questioning of the first group of prospective jurors.

“This isn’t a baseball game,” Blanche said, referring to a sports reference Assistant District Attorney Josh Steinglass had made during his questioning of jurors. “This is extraordinarily serious.”

Blanche pressed jurors on their opinion of Trump, asking each of them whether they harbored any views about him in any capacity — political or otherwise.

“If we were sitting in a bar, I’d be able to tell you,” said the bookseller from the Upper West Side. But in the courtroom, he continued, that opinion has “absolutely no bearing on the case.”

“I walk in here, and he’s a defendant,” he said. “That’s all he is.”

When another juror indicated that her awareness of Trump comes in part through the lens of her gender — “I’m a female,” she said — Blanche asked her to elaborate.

“I know that there have been opinions on how he doesn’t treat females correctly, stuff like that,” she said. “I honestly don’t know the story. So I don’t have a view on it.”

Another juror, an older male, drew laughter from courtroom when he said Trump “makes things interesting.”

“I find him fascinating. He walks into a room, and he sets people off,” the juror said. “I find that really interesting.”

“Um, all right,” Blanche said. “Thank you.”

Apr 16, 12:35 PM
Defense begins its questioning of prospective jurors

Assistant District Attorney Josh Steinglass has finished questioning the current group of prospective jurors, with defense attorney Todd Blanche now beginning his questions.

Steinglass wrapped up his questioning by asking the prospective jurors to “look inside yourselves” to make certain they could return a guilty verdict against the former president.

“Bottom line is, there are people who for a variety of reasons feel uncomfortable about returning a verdict of guilty in a criminal case,” Steinglass said. He sought to make sure these prospective jurors could do it.

“If we do prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, you have to be able to come back in here after deliberations, look the defendant in the eye,” Steinglass said. “Look at the defendant and take a look inside yourselves. Will you be able to render a verdict of guilty?”

Trump appeared to be looking at the prospective jurors in the jury box as they each answered “Yes” to Steinglass’s question. Trump tilted his head once or twice as they were answering.

Apr 16, 12:25 PM
‘I’m going to listen to all the facts,’ juror tells court

Under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass, prospective jurors agreed to weigh the evidence before them and nothing else — vowing to set aside any personal feelings toward the former president or outside influences, in order to deliver a fair verdict.

“The particulars of this case — it doesn’t really have anything to do with my political inclinations,” said the IT professional who earlier elicited a smile from Trump. “I can judge this case on the merits.”

“I’m going to listen to all the facts,” one woman said.

A retired MTA official who lives in the Lower East Side pledged to “give this man a fair shake.” She described the judicial system as “great,” but added that it could “use some tweaking in some places.”

Trump, meanwhile, has been craning his neck, trying to look past his attorney Todd Blanche to get a view of the jurors as they field questions from Steinglass.

Apr 16, 12:15 PM
‘I’m not 100% sure I could be fair,’ says juror who is excused

A woman who works for New York City told the court, “I’m a public servant and I’ve built my entire career trying to serve the city I live in and I see this as an extension of that,” as individual questioning of prospective jurors continued.

She had signaled she had strong views about campaign finance, but said “I don’t believe so” when Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass asked whether that would affect her ability to judge the case fairly.

Earlier, a self-employed woman who has lived on the Upper East Side for 25 years let out an audible sigh.

She had reached the part of the questionnaire that asked whether she can decide the case solely on the evidence and whether she had strong beliefs about Trump that would inhibit her from being fair.

“I’m not 100% sure I could be fair,” the woman said, and was excused.

When a school teacher from Harlem who is in her late 20s answered the same question, she spoke about the 2020 election.

“There was a divide in the country and I can’t ignore that,” she said. “However, I never equated that to one individual.” She remained in the jury pool.

Apr 16, 12:07 PM
Lawyer asks for ‘honest answers’ as individual questioning begins

Jury selection is moving into a new phase with lawyers beginning the individual questioning of prospective jurors who made it through Judge Merchan’s initial cuts.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass, up first, reminded prospective jurors that the case is not a referendum on their politics.

“Really give us the most honest answers you can,” Steinglass said. “No one is suggesting you can’t be a fair juror because you’ve heard of Donald Trump.” He added, “We don’t expect you to have been living under a rock for the last eight years or the last 30 years.”

Steinglass first asked whether anyone felt like the district attorney’s office had to prove more than the law requires “because of who he is.”

Not a single hand went up.

“I think the job of the jury is to understand what’s facts,” one woman said. “I don’t think it matters what my political views are. We listen to the facts of the case.”

Trump is engaged with some of the responses at times, and at other times he leans back in his chair with his eyelids heavy.

Apr 16, 11:56 AM
Excused juror says jury pool’s attitudes seem ‘pretty even’

A prospective juror who went through questioning but was ultimately excused from the case told ABC News outside the courthouse that she didn’t like the former president, but that it was important he get a fair trial.

“I don’t like him, I don’t approve of what he did as president,” said Kara McGee, when asked by ABC News about her feelings on Trump. “But the right to a fair trial is extremely important. And if this would serve to uphold that, then that would be my priority.”

McGee was excused from the case because of scheduling conflicts with her job.

“No matter what you think about someone as a person, or what other things they may have done, what he is on trial for is a very specific thing that even he deserves the right to a fair trial,” she said.

Asked about the sentiment of the other prospective jurors on their opinions of Trump, McGee said it “seemed pretty even, surprisingly.”

“I thought because this is Manhattan it might be a little bit more liberal, but there were a number of people who said ‘Yes, I listen to Fox, I watch Fox, I have been on Trump mailing lists in the past,"” she said. “So not really leaning towards one side or the other, that I can tell.”

“You got a sense that people were really trying to put anything that they had brought to this aside, and step in and do their civic duty,” she said. “And that people really were being honest.”

Apr 16, 11:41 AM
Prospective juror who read ‘Art of the Deal’ gets a smile from Trump

Several more prospective jurors have moved on to the next round of the screening process after some were excused after saying they could not serve impartially.

Among those who remain following the initial questionnaire are a senior living professional from the Upper West Side, a native Mexican who became a U.S. citizen in 2017, a corporate lawyer who lives in Chelsea, and a Disney employee.

A twice-married man who lives in Battery Park earned a tight smile from former President Trump when he said he had read some of his books, including “The Art of the Deal.” He said he read that book, as well as “How to be Rich” and a third title that he couldn’t quite remember, prompting a chuckle from Trump.

The man said his daughter was the victim of a violent sexual assault that he described as “traumatic,” but he said it left him with a “generally favorable view of the legal system.”

He said that relatives on his wife’s side lobby and fundraise for the Republican Party, and that he followed Trump on Twitter during his presidency.

“I don’t think there’s anything that would prevent me from being a fair and impartial juror,” the man said. “I feel that no one is above the law.”

He said, however, that he “would be lying” if he said he would promise not to discuss the case “to some degree” with his wife. When the judge said he could say nothing of substance, the man replied, “That would be tough.”

Apr 16, 10:27 AM
Questioning of prospective jurors resumes

A prospective juror who was feeling under the weather was excused before jury selection resumed this morning.

The proceedings resumed when Judge Merchan returned to the bench after a 15-minute absence, which he said was prompted by a few tardy prospective jurors.

The judge said that one prospective juror was experiencing flu-like symptoms and asked to be removed from consideration. The parties did not object.

As the prospective jurors filed in, Trump appeared to be motionless in his seat, staring straight ahead.

Questioning of the jurors has resumed, with one prospective juror — a finance professional — being excused after he said his “unconscious bias” might prevent him from being an impartial juror.

Apr 16, 10:12 AM
DA files formal request to hold Trump in contempt

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has filed its formal request to hold former President Trump in contempt over a series of recent social media posts that, among other things, call witnesses Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels “sleaze bags.”

Prosecutors said yesterday that three of Trump’s social media posts this month “plainly violate” Judge Merchan’s limited gag order because they target known witnesses who will testify at the trial.

“And defendant’s violations were knowing and willful — indeed, they are the latest in what this Court has already recognized as a deliberate strategy to impede this criminal trial,” prosecutors wrote in Tuesday’s filing. “To be sure, defendant has loudly and repeatedly complained that the order is unlawful, in both court filings and other public statements. But no court has agreed with his objections, and a defendant’s mere disagreement with a court’s order is no defense to criminal contempt.”

Defense attorneys have insisted Trump was responding to “repeated, salacious, demon attacks” by Daniels and Cohen.

The judge has scheduled a hearing on the matter next Tuesday.

Apr 16, 10:00 AM
Trump seated at defense table as court gets underway

Former President Trump has reclaimed his seat at the defendant’s table, Judge Juan Merchan is back on the bench — and the second day of the criminal trial of the former president is underway.

Trump greeted court officers upon arrival, mouthing to one, “How are you?” as he made his way down the aisle accompanied by lawyers Todd Blanche, Susan Necheles and Emil Bove.

Trump is once again seated between Blanche and Bove.

The three men appeared to be in and out of conversation as they awaited the judge, with Trump periodically looking down at the desk or at the monitor in front of him.

Apr 16, 9:52 AM
Trump says Cohen payments were ‘legal expense’

Former President Trump, addressing reporters on his way into court, defended the way payments were made to his former attorney Michael Cohen, pushing back on the crux of the DA’s case that they were improperly labeled as legal expenses.

“I was paying a lawyer and I marked it down as a legal expense, some accountant,” Trump said. “I didn’t know. That’s exactly what it was.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has accused Trump of improperly labeling the money as legal expenses to Cohen in order to hide that the funds were to repay hush money paid to Stormy Daniels to boost Trump’s electoral prospects.

“Legal expense — that’s what you’re supposed to call it,” Trump said.

“This is a trial that should never happen, it should have been thrown out,” he said.

Apr 16, 9:00 AM
Trump arrives at courthouse

Former President Trump has arrived at the courthouse for the second day of jury selection.

Unlike Monday when a small group of supporters and protesters greeted the former president, there were essentially none at the courthouse this morning.

Apr 16, 8:24 AM
Jury selection to continue on Day 2 of proceedings

Jury selection will continue today on Day 2 of former President Trump’s hush money trial.

Attorneys on Monday began the process of narrowing down the first group of 96 juror prospects, but none were seated by the end of the day.

Attorneys today will continue their questioning of the remaining juror prospects from that group, with a new group of prospective jurors scheduled to arrive in court this morning.

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