Trump trial: Jury filled for hush money case; opening arguments possible Monday

Former U.S. President Donald Trump sits in Manhattan Criminal Court for his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments, in New York City on April 19, 2024.

Spencer Platt | Via Reuters

A full panel of 12 jurors and six alternates was selected Friday for the New York criminal hush money trial of Donald Trump.

Judge Juan Merchan anticipates opening arguments in the Manhattan Supreme Court trial to begin Monday.

As the four-day jury selection process finished up, a shocking scene unfolded just outside the courthouse: A man set himself on fire outside the court in an area cordoned off for protestors, NBC News reported.

Law enforcement officers immediately ran over to the man. A spokesman for the New York Police Department could not immediately provide information about the incident.

Like in the previous three trial days, Friday’s efforts to fill the jury box for the unprecedented criminal trial was not always straightforward.

Some potential jurors were dismissed after saying they could not be impartial in the case involving the former president. And at least three people said that they were suffering from anxiety or “self-doubt” at the prospect of having to serve on the jury.

The fourth day of the former president’s historic trial is also expected to include a hearing aimed to inform Trump about what his prosecutors could grill him on if he decides to testify under oath.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said that if Trump takes the stand, they want to challenge his credibility by asking him about his various other legal battles, including two high-profile civil judgments he has been ordered to pay in New York.

Trump in February was ordered to pay $454 million in fines and interest after a state judge found him liable for fraudulently inflating his asset values to boost his net worth and obtain financial perks.

In a January verdict in New York federal civil court, Trump was ordered to pay $83 million to writer E. Jean Carroll for defaming her when he denied her claims that he raped her in the dressing room of a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s. A separate federal jury previously found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll.

Trump is appealing both the business fraud and defamation verdicts. Merchan will determine during the so-called Sandoval hearing whether that line of questioning is permissible.

Trump has said that he would testify in the hush money trial. He is not required to do so.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has fumed that the trial is a “scam” and a “witch hunt” aimed to damage his electoral chances against President Joe Biden.

Read more about Trump’s hush money trial

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records as part of a scheme to cover up a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who says she had sex with Trump while he was married years ago.

The payment from Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen was aimed to influence the 2016 presidential election by burying damaging information from voters, Bragg alleges. Trump has denied having sex with Daniels.

This is developing news. Check back for updates.

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