seven jurors – and a warning for Trump

By | April 16, 2024

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On the docket: Trump in trouble (and seven jurors)

It only lasted one day Donald Trump to end up in hot water with the judge Juan Merchan.

Immediately after a potential juror left the courtroom after being questioned by Trump’s lawyer about her social media posts, Merchan said he could hear Trump “mumbling” as she stood less than 10 feet away from him — and issued a stern warning to the first. president.

“It was audible. He gestured and spoke toward the juror,” a visibly irritated Merchan said to Trump’s lawyer, raising his voice. “I don’t want jurors to be intimidated in this courtroom.”

He then instructed Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, to talk to Trump about his behavior.

The exchange was one of the tensest moments of the first full day of jury selection for Trump’s first criminal trial, as Trump’s lawyer tried to remove potential jurors who had shown negative views of the former president. Merchan rejected many of those attempts: “The question is not whether someone agrees with your client politically or not. The question is whether or not they can be fair and impartial,” Merchan told Blanche at one point — but he did agree to fire a few, including a prospective juror who had previously called for Trump to be jailed to make.

By the end of the day, the original pool of 96 potential jurors had shrunk dramatically. More than half had been excused on Monday. The prosecution and defense each used a few of their own “peremptory challenges” (each side is given ten challenges to remove a potential juror without cause) to remove a dozen more.

Six jury members were chosen from that pool. Merchan swore them in this afternoon and said they could return as soon as possible Monday morning for the trial’s opening statements. After a few more hours of questioning, and just before adjourning for the day, he swore a seventh.

Sidebar: contempt papers in

In a motion filed Tuesday, prosecutors argue that Trump should be held in contempt because he “willfully violated the law.” Merchant silence order banning Trump from making public statements about potential witnesses by publishing several social media posts attacking his former lawyer Michael Cohen And Stormy Danielsthe porn star with whom he allegedly had an affair.

Prosecutors write that it is “absolutely critical” to prevent Trump from violating the silence order to “protect the integrity of the ongoing trial.”

“A finding of criminal contempt, the imposition of sanctions and stern warnings from this court are the minimum remedies necessary to achieve this indispensable goal,” they continue.

Trump called Cohen and Daniels “sleazebags” in a social media post April 10after Merchan issued his gag order, and so on 13th of April called Cohen a “disgraced lawyer and criminal.”

The filing came after prosecutors requested it during Monday’s pretrial proceedings Merchant hold Trump in contempt and fine him $1,000 for every social media post. The judge gave Trump’s lawyers until Friday to respond and scheduled a hearing for Tuesday morning to determine whether to impose sanctions.

In other news: Skepticism at the Supreme Court

Down in DC, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a case that could have enormous implications for Trump’s federal election interference criminal trial — and judges were skeptical that some of the charges leveled against Trump in that case should be allowed.

Here’s the Guardian’s American reporter Hugo Lowell with more:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed concern that prosecutors are using an obstruction statute to charge hundreds of suspects in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, with the justices leaning toward a view that jeopardizes those prosecutions and the criminal case against Donald Trump could bring.

The Trump case was not mentioned during the argument. But a decision limiting the use of the obstruction statute in connection with the attack on the Capitol could eliminate two of the four charges against the former president.

The case, which on its face involves a January 6 riot defendant named Joseph Fischer, suddenly gained importance last year after Trump was also charged with obstruction of an official proceeding over his efforts to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the certify the 2020 presidential election.

The question is whether the obstruction statute passed in 2002 under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the wake of the Enron scandal could be used to prosecute general obstruction cases, or whether it was intended to be used more limitedly for tampering with evidence or destroying documents.

If the Supreme Court decides that Section 1512(c) of Title 18 of the U.S. Criminal Code is being used too broadly, it could cripple part of the case against Trump as Special Counsel Jack Smith looks to draw a line at trial former. President’s speech on January 6 about the violence.

And if the court were to strike down the use of the obstruction statute, it could undermine the remaining conspiracy statutes used in the indictment against Trump.

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