First 7 jurors are chosen for Trump’s hush money criminal trial; 11 more still needed

By Michael R. Sisak, Jennifer Peltz, Jake Offenhartz and Alanna Durkin Richer, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — The first seven jurors for Donald Trump’s hush money trial were seated Tuesday after lawyers grilled the jury pool about their social media posts, political views and personal lives to decide who can sit in fair judgment of the former president.

The panelists who were selected are an information technology worker, an English teacher, an oncology nurse, a sales professional, a software engineer and two lawyers.

Eleven more people still must be sworn in before opening statements begin as early as next week in the first criminal trial of a former commander in chief. It’s a moment of reckoning for Trump, who has tried to put off his prosecutions until after the November election and casts himself as the victim of a politically motivated justice system.

The trial puts Trump’s legal problems at the center of his closely contested race against President Joe Biden. It’s the first of Trump’s four criminal cases to reach trial, and it may be the only one to return a verdict before voters decide whether to elect the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

The methodical process unfolding in the Manhattan courtroom highlights the challenge of finding people who can fairly judge the polarizing defendant in the city where he built his real estate empire before being elected president in 2016. Even so, jury selection moved quicker than expected Tuesday afternoon. It was set to resume Thursday.

On his way out of the courthouse, Trump stopped in the hallway to rail against the case to reporters, accusing Judge Juan Merchan of “rushing” the trial. He has denied any wrongdoing.

“We are going to continue our fight against this judge,” said Trump, who pushed unsuccessfully to have Merchan removed from the case.

During an appearance later Tuesday at a bodega in Harlem, Trump was asked what he thought of the jurors he had seen. He said it was “a little bit early to see,” adding, “We’ll see what happens.”

Over two days, dozens of potential jurors have been excused after saying they could not be impartial or because they had other commitments. Trump’s lawyers challenged a handful of people over social media posts, and one person was dismissed over a 2017 post about Trump that said “Lock him up!”

Several would-be jurors told the judge they believed they could decide the case fairly, no matter their feelings about Trump or his policies as president.