What’s Happening in the Trump Hush-Money Trial?

More jurors were dismissed on Tuesday morning after doubting their own impartiality, but seven were officially seated; Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg filed a motion to hold Trump in contempt over an alleged gag-order violation, with a hearing set for April 23 on the matter; and Trump appeared to nod off in the courtroom once again.

The mass whittling of the jury pool continued on day two of jury selection, but unlike on day one, it wasn’t a complete shutout: Seven people were eventually selected to serve.

Several people were dismissed after expressing concerns that their biases would interfere with serving on the jury. Others cited job responsibilities and previously scheduled events. Another prospective juror said that he read several of Trump’s books including The Art of the Deal’ and How to Get Rich, causing Trump to grin and nod his head excitedly. The afternoon session focused heavily on the prospective jurors’ past social media posts as Trump’s legal team attempted to strike several in the group from serving. In one contentious exchange, a potential juror was called into the room to explain a Facebook video that showed people celebrating in the streets after Trump lost the 2020 presidential election. As she spoke about the clip the clip, Trump could be seen gesturing in her direction and muttering, prompting an admonishment from Judge Merchan. “I won’t tolerate that — I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom,” he said. Though Merchan accepted that woman’s explanation, he did go on to dismiss several other jurors. One previously celebrated Trump’s travel ban being struck down in court and once wrote of Trump, “get him out and lock him up.” Another once shared an AI video of Trump saying, “I’m dumb as fuck.”

Here’s what we know about the seven jurors who have been selected as of Tuesday afternoon, out of an eventual 18 (including six alternates):

1. A West Harlem man originally from Ireland who works in sales and will serve as foreperson

2. A female oncology nurse who lives on the Upper East Side with her fiance

3. A male corporate lawyer who lives in Chelsea

4. A Puerto Rican male who has lived on the Lower East Side for four decades and works as an IT consultant

5. An Black female middle school teacher and Harlem native

6. A female software engineer who lives in Chelsea

7. A male civil litigator and lawyer from the Upper East Side

In New York, defendants in criminal cases are required to be in court for every day of their trial unless granted a special exception by a judge. Trump has been complaining that Judge Merchan won’t let him skip a day to attend his youngest son Barron’s graduation later this spring. “The Judge, Juan Merchan, is preventing me from proudly attending my son’s Graduation. Seems very unfair, doesn’t it? But this whole event is unfair,” he wrote in one TruthSocial post. In reality, Merchan hasn’t officially ruled on the request but suggested he was open to adjourning that day if the trial goes as planned. “It really depends on how we’re doing on time and where we are in the trial,” he said.

Law 360’s Frank G. Runyeon reported that Trump nodded off for the second day in a row.

Dr. Julie Blackman, a social psychologist who has worked on several prominent trials as a jury consultant, said in a New York Times op-ed published Monday that the court should be able to put together a fair and impartial jury despite the high-profile nature of the case:

What is likely to unfold in the trial will undoubtedly absorb the jurors’ full attention. Having sworn to the court that they will shelve their preconceptions, the jurors are likely to focus on the evidence and follow it to where it leads. Our brains tend to focus on what’s in front of us, and the evidence in this case surely will be compelling for the jurors.

On the first day of the trial, Judge Merchan worked to hammer down what would and wouldn’t be allowed in the court proceedings moving forward. Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office sought a fine against Trump over a social-media post that called potential witnesses Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels “sleaze bags.” On his way into the courtroom, Trump railed against the trial, but he dozed off in his chair. And the jury-selection process got underway, but just barely.

Trump arrived at the courthouse in his motorcade around 9 a.m., stopping in the hallway outside of the courtroom to address reporters. He reiterated his claims that the case against him is unfair and politically motivated, calling it “political persecution” and “an assault on America.”

Trump arrives at court in lower Manhattan on Monday.
Photo: Mark Peterson

Judge Merchan denied a motion from Trump’s legal team that called for him to recuse himself. He said that Trump was using a “series of inferences, innuendos, and unsupported speculation” to support his recusal claim. He reiterated his earlier decision that the Access Hollywood tape could not be shown in court, deeming it too prejudicial. Prosecutors are also barred from mentioning the numerous sexual-assault allegations against Trump. However, he ruled that Karen McDougal will be allowed to testify, though the prosecution won’t be allowed to mention her claim that her alleged affair with Trump occurred while his wife, Melania, was pregnant with their son, Barron. The prosecution will also be allowed to enter evidence about the National Enquirer’s past coverage of Trump.

Prosecutors filed a motion, claiming that several of Trump’s social-media posts violated the gag order Merchan set on Trump, which bars him from commenting publicly on potential witnesses, among others — he called Daniels and Cohen “sleaze bags.” Prosecutors are seeking a $1,000 fine per post.

The buzz of pretrial hype wasn’t enough to keep the 77-year-old awake. The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman caught Trump appearing to fall asleep at one point during the proceedings, writing, “His head keeps dropping down and his mouth goes slack.”

P.S. Will “Sleepy Don” stick?

96 prospective jurors were brought into the courtroom to kick off the jury-selection process, but more than half were quickly sent home after stating they couldn’t be impartial or were unable to serve. By the end of the day’s proceedings, Merchan had only gotten through the questionnaires of nine jurors, and none have been selected for the final panel. The novelty of possibly sitting on this particular jury wasn’t lost on these Manhattanites, some of whom were seen craning their heads to sneak a peek at the defendant. One juror was excused owing to a potential conflict with his son’s wedding in June, prompting congratulations from Merchan. Another who listed clubbing among her hobbies was dismissed after acknowledging she had “strong opinions or firmly held beliefs” about Trump. Another potential juror said his girlfriend worked in finance but admitted that he didn’t know what she did, sparking laughter from the prosecutors. A second group of prospective jurors will get their shot on Tuesday.

Behold the dour glowerer-in-chief:

Photo: MICHAEL NAGLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

A kidnapped-Biden truck drove in circles outside court on Monday morning:

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