Trump hush money trial highlights: Court adjourns with no jurors

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Donald Trump made history as the first former president to stand trial on criminal charges as his hush money case opened in New York courtroom on Monday. The court adjourned without selecting any jurors and is scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m. ET Tuesday.

WATCH: Trump comments on day 1 of hush money trial


The historic hush-money trial of Donald Trump got underway Monday with the arduous process of selecting a jury to hear the case charging the former president with falsifying business records in order to stifle stories about his sex life.

Judge Merchan says Trump must appear in court April 25, despite concurring Supreme Court hearing

After jurors were dismissed, the judge declined a request from Trump’s lawyers to take April 25 off from the trial so the former president could attend Supreme Court arguments on his claims of presidential immunity in another of his four criminal cases.

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche said Trump’s situation deserved accommodation. “It’s not very often that you have someone who has multiple criminal indictments at the same time,” he added.

Merchan said that as a criminal defendant, Trump “is required to be here. He is not required to be at the Supreme Court.”

In response, Trump rolled his eyes, scowled and stood up to leave, as court was breaking for the day.

Meet a few of today’s potential jurors

Prospective jurors today included a married Upper West Side resident with a master’s degree who has worked for the New York City government for 20 years, enjoys cooking and the arts, and gets news from The New York Times, CNN and Google. Another is a married West Harlem resident who works in sales, has some college education, enjoys the outdoors, and has a news diet that includes The New York Times, Daily Mail, Fox News and some MSNBC. Another prospective juror works as a prosecutor in the Bronx but vowed an ability to be fair and impartial as a juror.

All said nothing would prevent them from being fair and impartial, and that they had never gone to Trump or anti-Trump rallies or followed either him or organizations critical of him on social media, or supported any of a list of a half-dozen far-right- and far-left-leaning groups.

Court has adjourned for the day with no jurors picked

Upper West Side book-seller says nothing would prevent him from being impartial

The first juror to say he has a strong opinion about whether a former president may be criminally charged in state court is a book-seller living on the Upper West Side. “I feel that nobody is above the law, whether it be a former president or a sitting president or a janitor,” the man responded. On the question of whether anything would prevent him from being fair and impartial if selected, the man responded curtly: “No.”

Correction: A former headline noted that the man said he could not be impartial. In fact, he said that nothing could prevent him from being impartial.

‘If you’re with us, you’re with us ’til the end,’ Judge says as he dismisses a juror with a commitment in June


In a tender moment, Judge Merchan preemptively excused a man from the jury panel rather than forcing him to possibly miss his child’s wedding on the West Coast in June.

The middle-aged man raised the issue as he was about to answer the jury questionnaire.

“I think we should be done by then but I can’t promise,” Merchan told the man. “Only you can decide if you want to roll the dice. But if you’re with us, you’re with us ’til the end.”

As the man contemplated the potential conflict, Merchan offered to let him go. “I think, to be on the safe side, we should excuse,” Merchan said. “Congratulations,” the judge added, wishing him well on his child’s impending nuptials as he exited the jury box.

A woman was dismissed after saying she had strong opinions about Trump

Earlier in the questionnaire, the woman, a Harlem resident, indicated she could be neutral in deciding the case. But when asked whether she had strong opinions about the former president, the woman answered matter of factly, “Yes.”

When Merchan asked her to repeat the response, she replied: “Yeah, I said yes.” She was promptly dismissed.

As she left the courtroom, she was heard saying, “I just couldn’t do it.”

Roughly a third of the 96 people in the first panel of potential jurors remain after the judge excused members of the jury pool

More than half of the group was excused after telling the judge they couldn’t be fair and impartial. At least nine more prospective jurors were excused after raising their hands when Judge Merchan asked if they could not serve for any other reason. Those reasons were not disclosed.

It’s not unusual for potential jurors to want to be excused for a variety of reasons, including having strong feelings about the defendant.

In an effort to make the trial more efficient, the judge said he would prefer to dismiss jurors immediately if they indicated, at the start, that they couldn’t be fair and impartial. That’s a departure from a more common practice of questioning jurors more closely, individually, to see if their claimed lack of impartiality was true.

Trump’s lawyers have been arguing to an appeals court that he can’t find a fair and impartial jury in Manhattan and that the case needs to be moved elsewhere.

Another batch of potential jurors is waiting to be called into the courtroom. Merchan has said a total of about 200 jurors are in the courthouse for possible selection.

The juror questionnaire has begun

Eighteen randomly selected prospective jurors are now in the jury box to answer 42 preselected questions, some with multiple parts. The potential jurors were handed a list of the queries, and each one was running down the list and answering them, mainly with yes-or-no responses. The inquiries touch on their educational backgrounds, news habits, hobbies and ability to be fair and impartial.

Both of the first two prospective jurors said they lived in midtown, had never attended a Trump or anti-Trump rally and felt they could be impartial.

On a question about whether she had any strong beliefs about the former president, the first respondent paused briefly, then said, “No.”

As the jurors ticked through the list of questions, Trump held a stapled stack of papers close to his face, appearing to follow along with the answers.

Prospective jurors occupy every available seat in the courtroom gallery and the jury box

More than a dozen court officers stand sentry along the wood-paneled courtroom walls and in the aisle between the rows of wooden gallery benches where jurors are sitting.

In their initial moments in the courtroom, most jurors remained composed and did not visibly react upon sitting down and looking forward. One male juror turned to his left as he walked into the courtroom, appeared to see Trump and smiled. Two female jurors spoke to each other as one gestured forward toward Trump from the courtroom audience behind the defense table. Another man in the jury box gazed back toward the gallery, studying the prosecution’s support team, which includes a desk with several computers a few feet from the jury box.

Can you be fair and impartial?

Prospective jurors are about to be asked by a show of hands, row by row, if they believe they cannot be fair and impartial or cannot serve. Those who are excused will be referenced in the courtroom by a preassigned number so as not to be identified.

Judge Merchan read aloud dozens of people who may serve as witnesses or whose names may be mentioned during the trial. The lengthy list included several Trump family members, Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

About 100 prospective jurors are still waiting to be called, but at least they’re getting paid


Ninety-six potential jurors just filed through the courtroom in lower Manhattan. That means about 100 are still waiting elsewhere, standing by as the defense and prosecution seek to winnow the field down to a panel of just 12, plus six alternates.

For every day spent on duty, jurors are to be paid $40, either by their employer of the state of New York. Courts can allot an additional $6 per day if service extends beyond 30 days.

The crowd outside the courthouse has thinned out

WATCH: Jury selection begins in Donald Trump’s history-making hush money trial


Trump arrived at a New York court as jury selection began in his hush-money trial, marking a singular moment in U.S. history as the former president answers to criminal charges that he falsified business records in order to stifle stories about his sex life.

Jurors crane their necks to get a peek at Trump

Judge Merchan is now explaining boilerplate juror duties: “The jury’s responsibility is to evaluate the testimony and all of the evidence presented at the trial.”

“The trial is the opportunity for you to decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty,” he added.

Some of the prospective panelists craned their necks to get a look at Trump as they took a seat in the back of the room. One giggled and put her hand over her mouth, raising her eyebrows as she exchanged a glance with her neighbor.

Trump is looking straight ahead, expressionless, head slightly cocked.

Selection begins with a half-hour preamble from the judge

Judge Merchan is extolling the importance of jury service while explaining the basics of the case.

“You are about to participate in a trial by jury. The system of trial by jury is one the cornerstones of our judicial system,” Merchan told the jurors. “The name of this case is the People of the State of New York vs. Donald Trump.”

“The defendant in this case is Mr. Donald J. Trump,” the judge said, and Trump and his legal team stood to be introduced.

President Biden is too busy to tune into Trump’s trial

Date change in gag order hearing


The date of the hearing for whether Trump will be held in contempt of court has been changed from April 24 to April 23, 9:30 a.m., per Judge Merchan.

Trump appeared to be engaged in a lively conversation with his lawyer as court waited for prospective jurors

JUST IN: Potential jurors enter courtroom as selection starts

A group of 96 potential jurors are being called into court for the start of jury selection in Donald Trump’s hush money case.

Selection marks the start of the trial and a singular moment in U.S. history. It’s the first criminal trial of any former U.S. commander-in-chief and the first of Trump’s four indictments to go to trial.

The names of all jurors will be kept secret, except to the legal parties. During selection, prospective jurors will be referred to by an assigned number rather than their names.

Twelve jurors and six alternates will be chosen to hear the case. Judge Merchan has written that the key in choosing a juror is “whether the prospective juror can assure us that they will set aside any personal feelings or biases and render a decision that is based on the evidence and the law.”

Merchan said once the panel is finalized, he will get two lists: one containing the jurors’ numbers, the other containing their names and their numbers. The judge said he will then give one copy of each list to the prosecution and one copy of each list to Trump’s defense team.

The lists are “not to be photographed or duplicated, in any way copied in any way shape or form,” Merchan warned.

Prospective jurors are still waiting to enter the courtroom


The prospective jurors started going through security at 2:05 p.m. ET.

Judge Merchan has temporarily left the bench.

Judge Merchan puts his foot down on the Trump team’s efforts to delay

The afternoon began with a squabble over the Trump team’s planned exhibits at trial. Noting that the judge issued an order in February telling the lawyers to comply immediately with state laws on notifying their adversaries in advance of some evidence, prosecutors asked the judge to give the defense 24 hours to follow through and bar anything that wasn’t identified by then.

Trump’s lawyers asked for another day, saying they have been working through hundreds of thousands of pages of material they got only in recent months from a related federal investigation.

Merchan put his foot down at 24 hours, noting that the defense team has had weeks to go through the material and had filed many requests and appeals meanwhile.

“The way you choose to use your time is your business,” the judge said.

Judge Merchan won’t hold hearing over prosecutors’ request to fine Trump until next week

The judge will hold a hearing April 24 on prosecutors’ request to fine Trump $3,000 over social media posts that they say violated the judge’s gag order barring him from attacking witnesses.

Judge Merchan said Trump’s lawyers have until April 19 to file their written response. Trump’s lawyer has said the former president’s comments did not violate the gag order.

The gag order bars Trump from commenting publicly about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and jurors.

Trump is back in the courtroom

The former president waved and gave a thumbs up to a camera positioned in the hallway as he walked by.

Don’t expect this trial to be over anytime soon

The first day of court proceedings in the New York hush money case against Trump is halfway over and a jury is no closer to being seated.

Trump’s defense attorneys have repeatedly sought to delay the case and Monday morning was consumed with pretrial matters. And judge Merchan will hear arguments regarding a more weighty matter this afternoon: whether Trump should be fined.

The court’s pace so far could herald a long trial: It will likely take multiple days to winnow down a pool of hundreds of potential jurors.

Once the trial begins in earnest, it’s expected to last six to eight weeks.

Police investigate bomb threats at DA Alvin Bragg’s house and New York library

Police say they are investigating a bomb threat at the home of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg from Monday morning. A police spokesperson says a 911 caller reported the threat shortly before 9 a.m.

Another bomb threat made to the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building was unfounded and there was no disruption to service, a library spokesperson said.

How do prosecutors say Trump violated his gag order?

Prosecutors are asking Judge Merchan to hold Trump in contempt of court and fine him over three social media posts, $1,000 per post.

Over the last month, he disparaged prosecution witnesses Cohen and Daniels as “two sleaze bags,” circulated an earlier statement from Daniels and lashed out at what he claimed was a double standard by prosecutors.

The gag order, imposed March 26, bars the ex-president from commenting publicly about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and jurors. It was later expanded to bar him from talking publicly about relatives of the judge and of District Attorney Bragg, though Trump is free to speak about the officials themselves. Trump’s attorneys are fighting the order in an appeals court.

▶ Read more about Trump’s gag order.

The court pauses for a break before deciding whether to fine Trump over social media posts

One of Trump’s lawyers, Todd Blanche, maintained that the three posts referenced “do not violate the gag order.” He said Trump is just responding to to the witnesses’ own public statements.

“It’s not as if President Trump is going out and targeting individuals, he is responding to salacious, repeated vehement attacks by these witnesses.”

The court has now adjourned until 1:30 p.m.

JUST IN: Prosecutors ask judge to fine Trump $3,000 over social media posts about key witnesses in hush money case

“The defendant has demonstrated his willingness to flout the order. He’s attacked witnesses in the case,” said Christopher Conroy, one of the trial prosecutors.

Often more excitable during previous trials, Trump appears muted in court

Trump’s demeanor in the courtroom appears relatively muted compared to some of his previous court hearings when he frequently shook his head and was warned about speaking out of turn.

While lawyers argued about what evidence might be admissible during the trial, Trump slouched forward, casting his gaze at the desk in front of him and, briefly, up toward the ceiling. At another point, Trump flipped through a document in front of him at the defense table.

Earlier, Trump pursed his lips and scanned a row of reporters before following his security detail out of the courtroom during a break in the proceedings.

Merchan tries to move things along


WATCH: Protesters and supporters of Donald Trump stage outside New York court for start of jury selection


Dueling protests could be heard Monday outside a New York court for the start of jury selection in former President Donald’s Trump’s hush money trial. Protesters chanted “No one is above the law” and supporters yelled “USA, USA, USA.” (AP video Joseph Frederick, Ted Shaffrey)

Two hours in, jury selection has yet to begin

Prosecutors won’t be able to play the infamous ‘Access Hollywood tape’ for jurors

In the tape, Trump described grabbing women sexually without their permission.

The judge had previously denied prosecutors’ request to play the video that became public during the final weeks of the 2016 campaign in which Donald Trump was caught on a hot mic.

But the judge said prosecutors will be able to present internal campaign emails that Assistant District Attorney Steinglass said contained “powerful evidence of the campaign’s reaction to the incendiary language contained in the Access Hollywood video.”

The judge also declined a second request by prosecutors to allow into evidence a deposition related to the incident taken during Trump’s previous civil defamation trial with E. Jean Carroll.

As lawyers debate, Trump keeps his gaze focused


Judge agrees to allow testimony on the payment to Karen McDougal, barring one detail


Judge Merchan denies the defense’s push to expand jury questions

Shortly after court convened Monday, Trump’s attorneys asked the judge to expand the already extensive questionnaire filled out by jurors to weed out people who oppose the former president. Merchan declined the request, dismissing the notion that the jury questions were slanted to the benefit of prosecutors.

Over the coming days, the defense and the prosecution will both jockey for potential advantages as a jury pool of regular people is winnowed down to a panel of 12, plus six alternates.

“There is no asymmetry in the questionnaire when looked through the lens of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Merchan said. “This is by far the most exhaustive questionnaire this court has ever used,” he added.

Judge Merchan will allow prosecutors to introduce evidence about the National Enquirer’s ‘catch and kill’ ploy

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg says Trump’s hush money criminal trial isn’t about politics

Even before announcing the 34-count felony indictment against Trump last year, Bragg was a lightning rod for conservative critics who said he wasn’t tough enough on crime. Trump’s trial will test the Democrat’s efforts to portray himself as apolitical in the face of relentless attacks from the Republican former president and his supporters, who say the prosecution is the epitome of partisanship.

Echoing the racist tropes he has deployed frequently against his legal adversaries, Trump has called Bragg a “thug” and a “degenerate psychopath,” urging his supporters to take action against the “danger to our country.”

▶ Read more about District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

More on the judge’s denial of Trump’s motion to recuse

As the court day started, Judge Merchan turned down a request Trump’s lawyers had filed asking that the judge recuse himself — a move they also unsuccessfully made earlier in the case.

The Trump legal team pointed largely to the judge’s daughter’s work as a political consultant whose firm has worked for prominent Democrats, including President Biden.

Trump’s lawyers have argued that the daughter’s job represents a conflict of interest for the judge, and they also claimed she had posted an image of Trump behind bars on social media. The court system said she had closed the social media account before the photo was posted.

Trump’s attorneys also argued that an interview that Merchan gave to The Associated Press last month violated judicial rules about not making out-of-court comments about a pending case.

The article, which largely concerned Merchan’s oversight of Manhattan’s mental health court, reported that he declined to discuss the Trump case but said preparations for the historic trial were “intense.”

Merchan added that he was striving “to make sure that I’ve done everything I could to be prepared and to make sure that we dispense justice,” emphasizing his confidence in court staffers.

“There’s no agenda here,” the judge said in the interview. “We want to follow the law. We want justice to be done.”

On Monday, Merchan said Trump’s attorneys didn’t “reasonably or logically explain” how those statements, “which merely emphasized the rule of law, in any way expressed bias or violated (the) defendant’s rights.”

WATCH: Trump arrives at Manhattan courthouse for historic hush-money trial


The hush-money trial of former President Donald Trump begins Monday with jury selection.

Trump requests a day off to attend his son’s high school graduation


Only one room can watch a livestream of the proceedings — and it’s in the courthouse

JUST IN: Judge overseeing Trump’s hush money trial denies a request from the defense team to recuse from the case


Trump spoke briefly before entering the courtroom, saying the case “should have never been brought”

Trump walked to the defense table, pulled out a chair and sat down

Trump supporters are rallying outside, but they’re outnumbered by members of the media

Around 200 Trump supporters are outside the courthouse and roughly 40 other individuals are there protesting against the former president.

One group of demonstrators is carrying a banner that reads “No one is above the law.”

Another group chanted that the judge overseeing Trump’s trial, Juan M. Merchan, should recuse himself. Trump had unsuccessfully pushed for the judge to remove himself from the case.

Trump has arrived at the courthouse, marking a singular moment in U.S. history


Trump is on the move

News cameras and demonstrators are gathering outside the courthouse

With the trial set to begin, Trump continues to paint himself as a political victim

The New York City criminal court system is no stranger to high-profile cases

Trump has tried repeatedly to stall the trial


His latest attempt was denied April 9 by a New York appeals court judge, the second refusal in as many days.

Trump’s lawyers wanted the trial delayed until a full panel of appellate court judges could hear arguments on lifting or modifying a gag order that bans him from making public statements about jurors, witnesses and others connected to the hush-money case.

Despite orders not to disparage witnesses and prosecutors, Trump won’t stop posting

In a post on his Truth Social platform Wednesday, Trump called his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, and the adult film actor Stormy Daniels “two sleaze bags who have, with their lies and misrepresentations, cost our Country dearly!”

Judge Juan M. Merchan has issued a gag order barring Trump from commenting publicly about witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and jurors in his upcoming hush-money criminal trial, citing the former president’s history of “threatening, inflammatory, denigrating” remarks about people involved in his legal cases.

Trump is allowed to make critical comments about the judge himself and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Merchan’s decision echoed a similar order in Trump’s Washington, D.C., election interference criminal case.

How to stay up to date with all of Trump’s legal trouble


Could Trump go to jail?

Here’s who might testify


Here’s why the trial won’t be televised

Don’t expect to learn the jurors’ names

Because some people might want to avoid the attention that comes with a case against a famous person — especially one who has used his social media megaphone to tear into court decisions and has tens of millions of fervent supporters — Judge Merchan has decided to shield the jurors’ names from everyone except prosecutors, Trump and their respective legal teams.

During selection, prospective jurors will be referred to by an assigned number rather than their names.

Prospective jurors will have to answer some tough questions (42, to be precise)

While some questions are standard inquiries, the two sides have vigorously debated what, if anything, prospective jurors should be asked about regarding their political activities and opinions.

Approved questions include whether someone has “political, moral, intellectual or religious beliefs or opinions” that might “slant your approach to this case.” Another probes whether individuals support any of a half-dozen far-right or far-left groups, have attended Trump or anti-Trump rallies, or have worked or volunteered for Trump or for organizations that criticize him.

Prospective jurors will also be quizzed about any “strong opinions or firmly held beliefs” they may hold about Trump or his candidacy.

Judge Juan M. Merchan emphasized that he won’t let the lawyers ask about jurors’ voting choices, political contributions or party registration.

The trouble with choosing a jury for Trump

Of the 1.4 million adults who live in Manhattan, a dozen are soon to become the first Americans to sit in judgment of a former president charged with a crime. Today’s proceedings present a historic challenge for the court, the lawyers and the everyday citizens who find themselves in the jury pool.

Those challenges include finding people who can be impartial about one of the most polarizing figures in American life and detecting any bias among prospective jurors without invading the privacy of the ballot box.

There’s also the risk that people may try to game their way onto the jury to serve a personal agenda.

▶ Read more about the challenges of choosing a jury of Trump’s peers.

What time does jury selection begin?


What charges is Trump facing?


What is today’s case about?


The former president is accused of falsifying internal Trump Organization records as part of a scheme to bury damaging stories that he feared could hurt his 2016 campaign, particularly as Trump’s reputation was suffering at the time from comments he had made about women.

The allegations focus on payoffs to two women, porn actor Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, who said they had extramarital sexual encounters with Trump years earlier, as well as to a Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have a story about a child he alleged Trump had out of wedlock. Trump says none of these supposed sexual encounters occurred.

FILE - Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives at the adult entertainment fair "Venus" in Berlin, Oct. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

FILE – Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives at the adult entertainment fair “Venus” in Berlin, Oct. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

FILE - Michael Cohen leaves a lower Manhattan building after meeting with prosecutors, March 10, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

FILE – Michael Cohen leaves a lower Manhattan building after meeting with prosecutors, March 10, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 and arranged for the publisher of the National Enquirer supermarket tabloid to pay McDougal $150,000 in a journalistically dubious practice known as “catch-and-kill” in which a publication pays for exclusive rights to someone’s story with no intention of publishing it, either as a favor to a celebrity subject or to gain leverage over the person.

Prosecutors say Trump’s company reimbursed Cohen and paid him bonuses and extra payments, all of which were falsely logged in Trump Organization records as legal expenses. Cohen has separately pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance law in connection with the payments.

Jury selection is set to begin in former President Donald Trump’s hush-money trial


Donald Trump’s history-making criminal trial is set to start Monday with a simple but extraordinary procedural step that is vital to American democracy. A group of regular citizens — Trump’s peers, in the eyes of the law — will be chosen to decide whether the former president of the United States is guilty of a crime.

The process of picking a jury could take days. Lawyers on both sides of the case will have limited opportunities to try and shape the panel in their favor, but the court’s goal won’t be to ensure that it has a partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans, or is made up of people oblivious to previous news coverage about the trial.

The idea is to get people who are willing to put their personal opinions aside and make a decision based on the evidence and the law.

▶ Read more about how jury selection will work in Trump’s first criminal trial.

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