Donald Trump Argues 'Political Prosecution' Before Jury Selection In New York Trial: 'Judge Not Going To Allow Me To Escape This Scam'

Zinger Key Points
  • A criminal trial against Donald Trump began Monday, April 15, 2024.
  • A look at the key highlights and the jury selection process in the highly anticipated trial.

A highly anticipated criminal trial against Donald Trump kicked off in a New York court Monday.

Here are the key highlights from the first day, including the jury selection process.

Jury Selection Process Begins: On Monday, jurors were dismissed or asked questions about the case, which came after a 42-question survey was filled out by prospective candidates.

Judge Juan Merchan wrapped Monday's first day of the trial after around 10 potential jurors finished reading their survey responses, according to a report from NBC News.

Among the potential jurors who went through the process Monday were a former law clerk to former Chief Judge Janet DiFiore of the New York Court of Appeals and an assistant district attorney in the Bronx.

One of the jurors questioned on Monday said he could be fair in the criminal trial as he looks to outweigh the fact that Trump was once president.

"I feel that nobody is above the law, whether it be a former president, or a sitting president," the potential juror said.

Judge Merchan dismissed a potential juror who answered that she had opinions about Trump on her 42-question survey. Merchan dismissed around half of 96 potential jurors who said they could not be impartial and fair in the trial or had another reason they could not serve, according to witnesses in the court. A report also said that at least two dozen of the dismissed jurors were white women.

The potential jurors were read the charges Trump faces and the names of potential figures that could be included in the trial. The list of names included Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Melania Trump, Kellyanne Conway, Jared Kushner, Rudy Giuliani, Sharon Churcher, Dan Scavino, Ketih Schiller and John McEntee.

Related Link: Stormy Daniels' Former Lawyer Michael Avenatti Gives Prison Interview Ahead Of Hush Money Trial: Trump ‘Will Be Convicted'

Other Key Highlights: Speaking ahead of the trial's start Monday, Trump called the criminal proceeding "an assault on America."

"Nothing like this has ever happened before," Trump said. "This is political prosecution."

Ahead of the prospective jurors being screened in the court, the two teams of lawyers and the judge had several heated moments and discussions over evidence in the case and what would happen next.

Among the key items of evidence discussed were whether the court can hear that former Trump lawyer and key witness Michael Cohen previously pleaded guilty to the payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels under the direction of Trump. While prosecutors at this moment don't plan to introduce this, they want to know exactly what the judge’s boundaries are per the pleas and Cohen's credibility.

Another item discussed was an "Access Hollywood" tape that featured audio of Trump. The judge ruled the tape can not be played during the trial.

It was also announced that a hearing on whether Trump violated a gag order will take place next Tuesday, April 23 at 9:30 a.m. ET. The prosecution argued Trump violated the gag order with several social media posts over the weekend. Prosecutors said Trump should be sanctioned for three posts and take them down and receive a warning that another violation could mean jail time.

As part of the criminal trial process, Trump is required to be present each day for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last six to eight weeks.

Trump's lawyers said he intends to be present each day at the trial, but warned there could be exceptions. The judge warned Trump that if he fails to show up for trial without an approved reason, a warrant for his arrest will be issued.


Merchan said right now the trial will not be held on Wednesdays, but that could change in the future. The judge also said religious holidays would be respected in regards to members of the trial and jurors.

After the trial was dismissed Monday, Trump spoke with the media at the court.

"Looks like the judge is not going to allow me to escape this scam," Trump said.

The former president argued that a motion for him to attend Supreme Court arguments next week for a case on his potential presidential immunity in a separate criminal case was unfair.

Trump also said it was an unfair ruling that he wouldn't be allowed to attend his son Barron's high school graduation. NBC News noted the judge said he wouldn't rule on that request yet.

Among the big names in the courthouse in the morning were "The Daily Show" Jordan Klepper, political commentator Andrew Giuliani, son of Rudy Giuliani, and documentary filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi.

"I never miss a freak show," Pelosi, who is the daughter of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in the courthouse.

DJT Price Action: Shares of Trump Media & Technology Group DJT were down more than 18% Monday, hitting new lows since the company completed its highly anticipated SPAC merger with Digital World Acquisition Corporation. Shares of the Trump-owned media company could continue to be volatile during the trial.

Read Next: Donald Trump Biopic Gets Cannes Film Festival Premiere: Here's The Details, When Moviegoers Could Get Their First Look

Photo: Shutterstock

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Posted In: PoliticsLegalTop Stories2024 electionAlexandra PelosiDonald TrumpHush MoneyHush Money TrialJuan MerchanMichael CohenNancy Pelosinew yorkStormy Daniels
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