Commentary: Trump's antics didn't stop his New York hush money trial. Here's why he'll keep them up

Harry Litman, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

Given a defendant of Trump’s notoriety, the jury will inevitably include people with strong views about him. The quest of the jury selection process is not for people who have no views about the former president but rather those who can set aside whatever personal views they have and render a judgment based on the evidence and the law.

That means potential jurors may present themselves and express views — including negative views about Trump — but, on questioning from the judge and prosecutor, aver that they can apply the law and reach a verdict fairly.

Even if Trump’s side argues that a juror is inclined to convict, the judge may side with prosecutors and conclude that they can be trusted to do their duty. And then Trump’s counsel will have to decide whether to use one of their precious peremptory challenges. Eventually, they will be forced to accept jurors they don’t like.

Such losing arguments will be more fuel for Trump’s eternal fire of victimhood and grievance, and we can expect him to leverage them as supposed proof of the deep state conspiracy to take him down. And if his complaints cross the lines drawn by Merchan’s gag orders, they could set up an ancillary set of bitter legal battles. Prosecutors have already moved to have Trump held in contempt for incendiary social media messages on the eve and at the start of the trial.

Trump’s political strategy has always been in tension with his legal vulnerability, leading him to vilify the judges presiding over his cases and essentially dare them to hold him in contempt. Now that a jury is sitting in judgment of his conduct, that strategy will go from dubious to asinine. Still, he hasn’t given us any reason to expect him to abandon it.


Look for the jury selection process and the trial to feature more of Trump’s tantrums in court and tirades on the courthouse steps, sorely trying the patience of all involved, not least the judge.


Harry Litman is the host of the“Talking Feds” podcast and the Talking San Diego speaker series.@harrylitman

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