Jury is Finalized as Prospective Jurors Denounce Trump as ‘Selfish and Self-Serving’ and Defense Again Seeks Change of Venue

One prospective juror said Mr. Trump was ‘not my cup of tea’.

Mark Peterson - Pool/Getty Images
President Trump (C) sits with his attorneys Todd Blanche (L) Emil Bove (R) and during his criminal trial as jury selection continues at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 19, 2024 at New York City. Mark Peterson - Pool/Getty Images

The six remaining alternate jurors were seated in President Trump’s hush-money trial on Friday. During the procedure, Mr. Trump, glowering at the defense table, was forced to listen to prospective jurors harshly criticize him. In the afternoon, an appellate court denied the defense’s latest request to move the trial out of Manhattan.            

“We have a full panel,” the New York Supreme Court justice, Juan Merchan, said after five women and one man were sworn in to complete the total of six alternate jurors. These alternates, similar to understudies in a theatrical play, must attend the trial every day. If one of the twelve jurors in the jury box should fall ill, is removed by the judge, or is for any other reason hindered from being at the hearings, one of these alternates takes their place.    

President Trump speaks to the media as he enters Manhattan Criminal Court. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The six alternates are a woman, who is originally from Spain and not working; an audio professional, who offered the court his help in case there any issues with the microphones; a contract specialist; a woman who works in creative operations for a clothing company; and an estimator and project manager for a construction company.  

During the selection process, Mr.Trump listened to all prospective jurors answer the question about how they felt about him. His defense attorney, Susan Necheles, was keen on trying to weed people out who did not approve of her client. She was especially inquisitive about people’s opinions on Mr. Trump, 

President Trump sits in a Manhattan Criminal Court for his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments on April 19, 2024 at New York City. Curtis Means – Pool/Getty Images

One of the prospective female jurors said, “I don’t like his persona,” when asked if she has any strong opinions about him. “The way he presents himself in public … he is just very selfish and self serving,” the prospective juror said. “So I don’t really appreciate that in any public servant. I don’t know him as a person … but just how he is in public, and how he carries himself in public, it’s not my cup of tea.”

Someone else said, “I really like lower taxes, in this country, I like lower regulation for businesses.” To this Trump appeared to be nodding his head in agreement. “I want more jobs through the information technology,” the man continued. However, he paused slightly and then said, “When you think about the Republican party and why we need to bring religion into people’s lives and women’s rights to their own bodies, it’s too much.”

The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, has been criticized for offering a plea deal to the perpetrator of an antisemitic attack at New York.
The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg. AP/Mary Altaffer

One woman told the judge that she felt conflicted about being on the jury. “I feel so nervous and anxious right now,” the woman said, holding back tears. “I’m sorry. I thought I could do this, but I wouldn’t want someone who feels this way to judge my case, either. This is so much more stressful than I thought it would be.” After conferring with both sides, Judge Merchan excused her. 

The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, who brought the charges against Mr. Trump, will need all twelve primary jurors to unanimously find the defendant guilty. However, for a victory, Mr. Trump only needs one single juror to find him innocent. In deep blue Manhattan, he fears that may be an uphill climb.

Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels (L) and her fourth husband, the adult film actor/director Barrett Blade, attend the 2023 Adult Video News Awards at Resorts World Las Vegas on January 07, 2023 at Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Mr. Bragg has charged Mr. Trump with 34 felony counts for falsification of business records. He accuses Mr. Trump of attempting to hide an alleged sexual encounter with the adult film performer Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, from voters during the 2016 election. 

Ms. Clifford claims she had sex with the future president in 2006 and was paid $130,000 to keep silent about the affair during the presidential election a decade later. Her fee was paid by the president’s then-lawyer and current nemesis, Michael Cohen. According to prosecutors, Mr. Trump, while president, later repaid this debt to Cohen, but fraudulently disguised the reimbursement as legal expenses. Mr. Trump has pleaded innocent to all charges and denies ever having had sex with Ms. Clifford. 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 08: Former Trump Attorney Michael Cohen gives a short statement to members of the press as he arrives to meet with the Manhattan District Attorney on February 08, 2023 in New York City. Cohen is meeting with the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for the 15th time today as a grand jury continued to hear testimony regarding the former president’s involvement in a hush-money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniel. (Photo by
Michael Cohen on February 8, 2023 at New York City. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

In the morning, Mr. Trump told court reporters that he should be campaigning in Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina instead of in court and demanded that the judge retract the gag order he imposed on Mr. Trump barring him from criticizing witnesses, courtroom personnel and the families of the district attorney and the judge, whose daughter is a Democrat political operative in Mr. Trump’s sights. 

“The gag order has to come off. People are allowed to speak about me and I have a gag order, just to show you how much more unfair it is.” Mr. Trump said, referring to Ms. Clifford and Cohen, who have both written books attacking him.

Judge Juan Merchan poses for a picture in his chambers in New York, Thursday, March 14, 2024. AP Photo/Seth Wenig
Loren Merchan, Judge Juan Merchan’s daughter, has worked as a Democratic operative. Facebook

“Every time I come out to speak to you, I want to be open because we did absolutely nothing wrong. I showed you yesterday. Thirty stories, 32 stories of experts, legal experts. Thirty two stories of legal experts saying very strongly there is no case.” He added, “They’ve taken away my constitutional rights to speak and that includes speaking to you. I have a lot to say to you. And I’m not allowed to say it and I’m the only one.”

Judge Merchan has scheduled a hearing to address this issue for April 23. 

An image from video of the man's self-immolation in a park outside Manhattan criminal court, April 19, 2024, at New York.
An image from video of the man’s self-immolation in a park outside Manhattan criminal court, April 19, 2024, at New York. Via CNN

Meanwhile, on Friday, an appellate judge, Marsha Michael, denied the defense’s request to move the case out of Manhattan. Defense attorney Clifford Robert argued in front of a midlevel state appeals court that the presiding trial judge had rushed through the jury selection process, which pulls jurors from Manhattan, a borough that is not known to think highly of Mr. Trump, despite it being his principal residence for five decades before he relocated to Palm Beach while president.  

The Associated Press reported that Mr. Roberts told the appeals court, “The way that such a large cross section of people were immediately disqualified because of the biases they mentioned to the court is proof positive … to the predispositions of these people.”

President Trump denounces a gag order at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 19, 2024 at New York City. Curtis Means – Pool/Getty Images

Only 12.2 percent of Manhattan voters supported Mr. Trump in the 2020 election.

At the same time, outside the criminal courthouse Downtown Manhattan, a 37-year-old man set himself on fire. An online manifesto, believed to be from the man, Max Azzarello of Florida, said he was performing an act of protest to denounce a “planetary Ponzi scheme.” News reporters, who were stationed outside, told the Sun it was the worst thing they had ever witnessed. One reporter said, “that’s why I don’t want to be a war correspondent.” 

The opening arguments for the trial are scheduled for Monday at 9:30 am. 

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