Trump hush money trial loses intimidated juror: judge

Staff Writers
Reuters
2 Min Read
Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying records. (AP PHOTO)
Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying records. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AP

A juror has been excused from Donald Trump’s criminal trial after saying she felt intimidated because some aspects of her identity had been made public, the judge overseeing the case says.

Addressing the court, the juror said family, friends and colleagues had reached out to her after deducing through press accounts that she was on the jury.

“I don’t believe at this point that I can be fair and unbiased, and let the outside influences not affect my decision-making in the courtroom,” said the juror, who had been one of seven selected earlier this week.

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Six jurors remain after Justice Juan Merchan excused her.

The decision highlighted the extraordinary pressures around the first criminal trial ever of a former US president.

Trump has criticised witnesses, court officials involved in the case and their relatives, prompting Merchan to impose a partial gag order on him.

Christopher Conroy, a prosecutor, said Trump had violated the gag order with recent posts about former Trump lawyer and potential star prosecution witness Michael Cohen and an April 17 post saying undercover progressive activists had been lying to the judge to try to get on the jury.

Emil Bove, one of Trump’s lawyers, said those posts “do not establish any wilful violations” of the gag order.

Trump, the 2024 Republican presidential candidate, is a divisive figure in US politics and many of those being screened to serve on the jury have said they would not be capable of assessing his guilt or innocence.

Lawyers on Thursday will continue searching for jurors to decide Trump’s fate in the trial, which comes just months before his upcoming election rematch with President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

They are tasked with finding New Yorkers who can be fair to the Republican presidential candidate in heavily Democratic Manhattan, where the businessman-turned-politician made his name as a real estate tycoon decades ago.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying records to cover up hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels.

The hush money trial began on Monday.

Jurors selected so far include a nurse, a software engineer and two corporate lawyers.

The judge has said the identities of the 12 jurors and six alternates will remain anonymous except to Trump, his lawyers and prosecutors.

Opening statements could take place on Monday if the full jury is seated this week.

A guilty verdict would not bar Trump from office but half of independent voters and one in four Republicans say they would not vote for him if he were convicted, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll that closed on April 8.

The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks, and Trump could potentially be convicted and sentenced before the election.

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