Friday, April 12

The Trump Org Trial Has 7 Jurors So Far; 2 Dislike How He Ran Things

  • The Trump Organization’s first seven jurors include two who openly dislike how they ran the country.
  • One is “upset” by his choices as president; the other wishes he made better Supreme Court picks.
  • The business is on trial for allegedly dodging payroll taxes by giving executives some pay off the books.

The Manhattan jury that will decide whether former President Donald Trump’s international real-estate company is guilty of tax fraud includes two women who said in court that they didn’t like how the former president ran the country.

The first seven jurors were selected Tuesday in the state Supreme Court case, which alleges that the Trump Organization ran a 15-year scheme to help top executives cheat on their taxes.

One of those chosen is a self-employed book editor who wryly noted she has “opinions” about Trump, who is not a defendant but is still the elephant “not in the room,” as lead prosecutor Joshua Steinglass joked to prospective jurors.

“I didn’t vote for him,” the editor said of Trump, whose company faces more than a million in fines and other costly consequences if convicted.

“And I would have gone for some different Supreme Court justices” than the three he picked, she added with a sarcastic smile.

Still, she could be impartial and fair, she promised.

A second juror, a retiree with grown kids who enjoys crocheting, did some real soul-searching when asked how she felt about Trump.

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“Emotionally, I don’t feel one way or the other about what he’s done in his life, personally,” she said from the front row of the jury box, where 18 prospective jurors were being questioned.

“I’m not taking it personally, honestly,” she said. “Of course, President Trump was the president of the United States. And of course, when things happened in this country, I would be upset about things.”

The woman added that she understood that it was Trump’s company, not Trump himself, who was on trial.

“I’ve had feelings in the past,” she told the lawyers, prosecutors, and state Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the trial. “But I will do my best,” she said of her duty to be an impartial and fair juror.

“I will follow the instructions,” she said.

The two women were among nearly a dozen out of the 18 being questioned in the jury box who raised their hands when asked by Trump Organization attorney William J. Brennan whether they had “strongly held” opinions about Trump.

Defense lawyers have had to work around a jury pool chosen in a New York City borough where only 12% of voters supported Trump in 2020. Many in the courtroom were dismissed after voicing real hatred for the former president.

“I want to ask you more about the former president of the United States,” Brennan asked them before taking the informal poll. “We all know who he is. He was our president.

“I want to go through with all of you, questions 29 and 30” the lawyer continued, referring to the numbers for questions in a juror questionnaire that specifically asked if they could be impartial in a trial involving Trump.

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“A number of you answered that you can be fair and impartial,” Brennan continued. “But the question is, do you have strongly held beliefs about former President Trump? Either way?”

Of the 11 who raised their hands among the 18 in the jury box, all would go on to express what appeared to be negative beliefs.

All insisted they could be impartial, which meant the defense lawyers would lose one of their valuable and limited peremptory challenges with each one they rejected.

At the end of the day, the Trump lawyers spent just two of their peremptories.

One was to reject a marketing company CEO who said she had a strong “negative” opinion about Trump, though not about his company. The other was to reject a woman with no stated opinions about Trump, but who worked in the banking field and who said she likes to write.

Defense lawyers have expressed caution over choosing jurors who might go on to write a book about the case, and who might therefore impact deliberations.

A woman who said she was an NBC journalist was excused by the agreement of both sides after she said she would write a book about the case if chosen.

Five additional jurors and six alternates remain to be picked; jury selection resumes on Thursday.

Selected jurors have been told to come back on Monday at 9:30 am for opening statements.

They have also been warned that the trial could last another six weeks and run to the brink of the winter holidays.

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