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‘Hush Money’ Judge Sides With Trump’s Legal Team, Grants Access to Private Information

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The judge presiding over former President Donald Trump’s hush money case sided with his legal team in a ruling Thursday that will give them access to jurors’ private information, according to a report by Newsweek.

The outlet reported that Judge Juan Merchan’s ruling comes after more than one prospective juror expressed concerns that their private information had been leaked and their identities revealed.

“Merchan sided with Trump’s attorneys on Thursday, agreeing that it was ‘necessary’ for counsel to know the current and previous employers of the potential jurors, but that those details did not need to be publicized by the press,” the report said.

Manhattan District Attorney’s office prosecutors proposed that jurors refrain from answering two of the “most identifying” questions on the list. These questions, labeled as 3A and 3, inquire about the juror’s current and prior employers, respectively.

Trump resumed his presence at the Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday to proceed with the jury selection process for the hush money case. While seven jurors had been selected earlier in the week, one of them expressed concerns about impartiality on Thursday. The juror cited external pressures from friends and family, which had influenced her ability to objectively decide the case.

Afterward, she was dismissed, and Merchan admonished the media: “We just lost what would have been a very good juror for this case.”

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Later, another “selected on Tuesday returned to the court to express ‘annoyance’ about the amount of information that had been put out there. He was also excused,” Newsweek reported.

According to MSNBC contributor Adam Klasfeld, Merchan spoke with the media directly following the expulsion of that juror. He told them that disclosing too much personal information about the jurors “defeats the purpose” of their anonymity, which is meant to shield them from outside pressures and ensure their safety.

“The press is certainly able and permitted to write about anything that’s on the record, because it’s on the record,” said Merchan. “But I’m directing that the press simply applies common sense.”

By day’s end, the jury count stood at 12 jurors and one alternate. The court aims to select the remaining five alternates by Friday, ensuring that opening remarks can proceed as planned on Monday.

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Trump has appeared at a Manhattan courthouse all week and expressed his dissatisfaction with the ongoing criminal case against him.

“I’m supposed to be in New Hampshire, I’m supposed to be in Georgia, I’m supposed to be in North Carolina, in South Carolina, I’m supposed to be a lot of places campaigning. But I’ve been here all day on a trial that really is a very unfair trial. These are all stories, this is from the last few days,” Trump declared while holding a stack of news articles slamming his trial.

Trump also flipped through articles from the Wall Street Journal and National Review before referencing Fox News legal analysts in an attempt to clear his name.

“‘The whopping outrage in Trump’s indictment,’” he said, reading the headline from an article by Fox News’ Andrew McCarthy. He then cited two more Fox News analysts. “Jonathan Turley. Gregg Jarrett. Andrew McCarthy. Every one of them saying, they call it a zombie case, meaning it is no case. And they say it’s unconstitutional.”

After browsing through several more pages, Trump then griped about the temperature in the courtroom.

“And I’m sitting here for days now from morning until night in that freezing room,” he went on. “Everybody was freezing in there. And all for this. This is your result.”

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