Twelve jurors selected in Trump hush-money trial

Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying records.

Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying records. Photo: AAP

Lawyers in Donald Trump’s historic criminal trial have selected 12 jurors who will assess his guilt or innocence over the coming weeks in a case stemming from a hush-money payment to a porn star.

“We have our jury,” Justice Juan Merchan said after the 12th person was chosen on Thursday (US time).

Lawyers for the defence and the prosecution still must select alternate jurors for the trial, the first in which a former US president is the defendant.

The panel of 12 was chosen in three days. It had potentially been expected to take weeks, but sped up once Trump’s team ran out of challenges.

Opening statements are now expected on Monday.

The jury that was finally seated on Thursday (local time) is made up of seven men and five women. They include an investment banker, a security engineer, a retired wealth manager, a speech therapist and a physical therapist.

Earlier on Thursday (local time), Merchan dismissed one juror who said she felt intimidated that some personal information was made public.

“We just lost, probably, what probably would have been a very good juror for this case, and the first thing that she said was she was afraid and intimidated by the press, all the press, and everything that had happened,” Merchan said.

“Really this is just a matter of common sense, and I ask you to please follow that.”

The judge also excused another juror after prosecutors said he may not have disclosed prior brushes with the law.

Trump’s outsized public presence created unique problems during the jury selection process, which started on Monday.

Roughly half the first 196 jurors screened in heavily Democratic Manhattan were dismissed after saying they could not assess the evidence impartially.

The Republican politician’s criticism of witnesses, prosecutors, the judge and their relatives in this case and others has also sparked concerns about harassment, prompting Merchan to impose a partial gag order.

Merchan dismissed the juror who said she felt intimidated after family, friends and colleagues had deduced she had been selected for the trial.

“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,” the juror said.

Trump, the Republican presidential candidate in the November 5 election, also faces criminal cases in Washington, Georgia and Florida. The New York case is the only one certain to go to trial this year.

Officials involved in those cases have reported receiving death threats and harassment after being criticised by Trump.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in all four cases and has said, without evidence, they are part of a broad-ranging effort by allies of Democratic President Joe Biden to hobble his candidacy.

He repeated the claim outside court in New York on Thursday, describing it as “a very unfair trial”.

“They’re doing this for Joe Biden,” he said.

“I’m sitting here for days now, from morning to night, in that freezing room – everybody is freezing in there! All for this.”

“The whole thing is a hoax.”

In New York, Trump is accused of covering up a $US130,000 ($200,000) payment his former lawyer Michael Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels for her silence before the 2016 election about a sexual encounter she says they had a decade earlier.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and denies any such encounter with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in 2018 and served prison time for making those payments. Trump’s lawyers are expected to attack his credibility as a witness.

A conviction would not bar Trump from taking office.

Merchan has taken steps to shield jurors in the case from harassment, saying they will remain anonymous except to Trump, his lawyers and prosecutors. Cameras are also barred from the courtroom, except for a few minutes at the start of each day.

Prosecutors say Trump has violated Merchan’s gag order seven times since they flagged three potential violations on Monday. They have asked the judge to impose fines or other penalties.

On Thursday, prosecutor Christopher Conroy pointed to posts saying undercover liberal activists had lied to the judge to try to get on the jury.

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

-with AAP

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