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In case you missed Donald Trump's hush money trial, here are this week's highlights

Josephine Stratman, New York Daily News on

Published in News & Features

NEW YORK — The historic first criminal trial of a former U.S. president got off to a wild start.

Between Donald Trump nodding off, jurors being selected only to drop out, and Trump’s alleged repeat violations of a gag order prohibiting him from speaking publicly about trial participants, it’s clear the six-week trial will be an unprecedented chapter in the history of both politics and criminal justice.

Trump has been charged with 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, Playboy model Karen MacDougal and a Trump Tower doorman.

The first week was focused on jury selection, with three panels of prospective jurors, totaling around 300 people, brought in and questioned to form a jury of 12 with six alternates.

This coming week is expected to see opening statements and the first witnesses as the court examines how Trump allegedly made the hush money payments in a bid to influence the results of the 2016 election — just as the nation stares down the next one.

Here are the highlights from Week 1 of the trial, in case you missed it.

Monday

The first day of the trial kicked off with several legal blows for Trump, who nodded off points during the trial. Outside the courthouse, dozens of MAGA supporters — outnumbered by members of the media — came out in support of Trump, along with a few counter-protestors.

Judge Juan Merchan denied Trump’s team’s second motion to recuse himself from the case because his daughter is employed by a political firm that works with Democrats.

“To say that these claims are attenuated is an understatement,” Merchan said. “The court will not address this matter further.”

Prosecutors also asked the judge to hold Trump in criminal contempt of court for continuing to post comments about witnesses Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels, including a post where Trump attacked Cohen as a liar and a “sleazebag.”

Assistant District Attorney Chris Conroy said Trump should be fined $1,000 for each Truth Social post in violation of the order. Merchan said he’d weigh the violations at a hearing set for next Tuesday.

And then the trial was off to its official start, with the first batch of jurors sworn in just after lunch. By the day’s end, the group was down to just around 30 who said they could be fair and impartial toward the former president.

Tuesday

The first jury members were sworn in, establishing the first Manhattanites who will determine whether Trump is convicted as a felon. The three women and four men included an oncology nurse, a corporate attorney; an English teacher who respected that Trump “speaks his mind"; an IT worker who said he found Trump’s ability to walk into a room and set everyone off was “fascinating”; and a software engineer and recent college grad.

The day also saw the first — but almost certainly not the last — more contentious moment between Trump and Merchan.

The judge said he spotted Trump acting up as a woman was summoned for further questioning.

“He was gesturing, and he was speaking in [their] direction,” the judge said, scolding Trump through his lawyer. “I won’t tolerate that — I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom.”

Wednesday

 

Trial’s day off. As is standard practice during longer trials like this one, which is scheduled to last six weeks, judges often reserve one day per week to work on other cases. Judge Merchan chose Wednesday to preside over Manhattan’s Mental Health Court.

Thursday

Several more jurors were selected, bringing the total to 12 jurors and one alternative. One of the 12 jurors follows Trump on Truth Social and has read “The Art of the Deal,” while another confessed she didn’t “like his persona.”

“He’s very selfish and self-serving, so I don’t appreciate that in any public servant,” she said. “I don’t know him as a person, so I don’t know how he is in terms of his integrity. It’s just not my cup of tea.”

Two jurors were also dismissed: One told the court she was frightened after her friends and family had guessed she was on the panel from her description in media reports and worried about her ability to remain impartial.

The other excused juror — who earlier called Trump “fascinating and mysterious” — was excused after it was discovered a man with the same name was arrested for tearing down right-wing political posters in the ‘90s.

Prosecutor Conroy also said that Trump had violated his gag order seven more times since Monday.

The “most disturbing” instance, the DA’s lawyer said, was a Truth Social post made Wednesday night that reads: “They are catching undercover Liberal Activists lying to the Judge in order to get on the Trump Jury.”

“It’s ridiculous,” Conroy said. “It has to stop.”

Friday

Court proceedings went uninterrupted in the afternoon after a shocking self-immolation in front of the courthouse. One court officer was hospitalized for smoke inhalation, Al Baker, a spokesperson for the court, said.

Just before the incident, jury selection wrapped as five more alternates were selected, rounding out the panel of 12 jurors and six alternates.

Four women and one man were selected as the last alternates Friday afternoon, including a woman who said “I don’t believe in watching news” and an audio expert who offered to help solve microphone issues in the courtroom.

The jury of 12 men and women with a total of six alternates will begin hearing the case Monday.

Emotions ran high in the courtroom as several prospective jurors shed tears or voiced concerns about serving as jurors for the highly scrutinized trial.

“I think, possibly, I have really bad anxiety,” one woman told the court. “The more days that go on and more and more people in my life know that I’m here without me even telling them, they just put pieces together.”

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