19 Apr 2024, 12:00
Update : 19 Apr 2024, 12:26

Alternate jurors to be confirmed at Trump trial

NEW YORK, April 19, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - The judge in Donald Trump's criminal
trial will look to wrap up jury selection Friday before opening arguments
start next week in a historic case being heard as the former president
campaigns to win back the White House.

After the 12 jurors were sworn in Thursday, a pool of six alternates will be
completed -- ready to step in if any of the original jury become unavailable
during the case in which Trump is accused of covering up hush money paid to a
porn star.

The trial at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York is expected to last six
to eight weeks, providing a wealth of legal and political drama just months
before election day in November.

"I'm supposed to be in a lot of different places campaigning. But I've been
here all day on a trial that really is a very unfair trial," Trump said
outside the courtroom on Thursday.

"The whole world is watching this hoax," he said, again using the case to
launch his election campaign attacks on President Joe Biden, US border policy
and the justice system.

The Republican tycoon faces three other criminal cases, including on far more
serious charges of attempting to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden,
but these have been repeatedly delayed.

- Tight race against Biden -

Trump has framed his multiple legal woes as an attempt by his political
opponents to thwart his bid to return to power -- he is polling strongly in a
tight rematch against Biden.

In the trial in New York, Trump, 77, has pleaded not guilty to charges of
falsifying business records on the eve of his 2016 election victory to hide
an alleged sexual encounter with porn star Stormy Daniels.

Potential jurors were this week grilled by prosecutors and defense attorneys
about their media habits, political donations, education and whether they
have attended a pro- or anti-Trump rally.

Many potential panelists were excused after saying they could not be
impartial in the case.

One juror who had already been sworn in was excused because she had concerns
her identity had been revealed, and another was let go following doubts about
the accuracy of his answers during questioning.

But by the afternoon, Judge Juan Merchan declared, "we have our jury."

Trump, dressed in a dark suit and blue tie, watched silently from the defense
table as the jurors took the oath to hear the case in a "fair and impartial

Five more alternate jurors will need to be chosen to complete the panel.

To protect the anonymity of the New Yorkers randomly selected for jury
service, Merchan asked reporters to stop providing physical descriptions of
jurors and not to identify where they work.

A unanimous verdict will be required to convict Trump, who has been ordered
by the judge to attend each day of the trial.

If convicted, he could face prison but would more likely be fined.

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