On Monday, jury selection began in Manhattan for the district attorney’s fraud case against the Trump Organization. New York prosecutors will seek to prove that former president Donald Trump’s company took part in a 15-year scheme to help their executives avoid paying taxes through expensive perks.
But defense attorneys are reportedly facing a challenge: finding local jurors who don’t hate Trump.
The New York Post reports that of the 18 prospective jurors set to be questioned on Tuesday, 11 of them were dismissed after expressing a strong dislike of the former president. In one example, a woman was sent home after saying, “I really, really don’t like Trump at all. I hate him.”
Another woman said she would “pledge” to be unbiased if selected but admitted, “I mean, I can’t deny it, I really, really don’t like Trump at all.”
Ultimately, seven people were selected that day to serve on the jury. One of the selected jurors was a book editor who admitted she had “opinions” on Trump but could still be impartial.
“I didn’t vote for him,” she said, according to Business Insider.
She added, “And I would have gone for some different Supreme Court justices,” with the outlet noting she spoke with a “sarcastic smile.”
One of the other chosen jurors took more of a middle-of-the-road approach, telling the judge of Trump, “Emotionally, I don’t feel one way or the other about what he’s done in his life, personally.”
On Thursday came a new development: a possible COVID-19 case. Law360 reports that one juror was potentially positive, so he and five additional jurors were dismissed. This will likely delay the trial from opening on Monday as planned.
The former president has not been officially charged in this case but could potentially be called as a witness. Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, is expected to testify as part of his plea deal. In August, Weisselberg pleaded guilty to 15 felony counts, which include criminal tax fraud and grand larceny, in exchange for a five-month prison sentence.
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