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Jury selection could be nearing a close in Trump’s trial

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New York, April 19: Lawyers worked Friday to round out the panel of 12 jurors and six alternates who will hear Donald Trump’s hush money trial, as the former president railed against a gag order that has prosecutors seeking to hold him in contempt of court.
After a jury of 12 New Yorkers was seated Thursday, lawyers turned their attention to picking alternates who can vow to set aside their personal views and judge the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
Thursday’s proceedings demonstrated unpredictability in the jury selection process of such a high-profile case, with two jurors who had been seated a day earlier being dismissed from the panel.
The judge has suggested that opening statements could begin as early as Monday, before prosecutors begin laying out their case alleging a scheme to cover up negative stories Trump feared would hurt his 2016 presidential campaign.
The trial will place Trump in a Manhattan courtroom for weeks, forcing him to juggle his dual role as criminal defendant and political candidate against the backdrop of his hotly contested race against President Joe Biden. It will feature salacious and unflattering testimony his opponent will no doubt seize on to try to paint Trump as unfit to return as commander in chief.
After arriving at the courthouse Friday, Trump complained about the gag order imposed by the judge that limits what he can publicly say about witnesses. He has lashed out on social media about the judge, prosecutors and likely witnesses, prompting the district attorneys to seek sanctions for possible gag order violations. The judge will hold a hearing next week on prosecutors’ request to hold Trump in contempt. “The gag order has to come off. People are allowed to speak about me, and I have a gag order,” Trump said.
After a new group of potential jurors was brought into the courtroom, one woman who said she didn’t believe she could be “completely fair” was excused.
Judge Juan M. Merchan is also expected to hold a hearing Friday to consider a request from prosecutors to bring up Trump’s prior legal entanglements if he takes the stand in the hush money case. (AP)

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