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Trump Trial Judge Scolds Press for Reporting Too Much Info About Jurors: Use ‘Common Sense’

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


Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the hush money trial of former president and likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in New York City, chastised the media on Thursday for disclosing personally identifiable information about the jury.

This week, Merchan and the parties are putting in a lot of effort to put together a fair jury. Following proceedings on Monday and Tuesday, seven jurors out of eighteen were chosen; however, early on Thursday morning, one of the seven was removed due to concerns about fairness.

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.”

Earlier on Thursday, Judge Merchan reaffirmed his ruling to exclude jurors from seeing footage from the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape.

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Judge Juan Merchan stated to the court, “I remain convinced at this moment… that the tape should not come in.”

Before the 2016 election, a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced, which revealed Trump talking to host Billy Bush about his star power and the impact it had on women.

In March, Merchan stated that “it is not necessary that the tape itself be introduced into evidence or that it be played for the jury.” Merchan had previously denied that the prosecution could show the tape to the jurors.

Joshua Steinglass, the prosecutor, pushed back on Monday to present the video’s supporting documentation, claiming that it is “living proof that the defendant wasn’t all talk” and a “sexual assault admission.”

“That is more than just comments of a sexual nature,” Steinglass said, adding that when the video surfaced in 2016, it threw Trump’s presidential campaign into a “tailspin.”

Trump’s lawyer argued that the video was too explicit and biased to show to the jury.

“The people will get everything they need to prove the charges in this case from what your honor has already ruled,” Blanche said.

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Merchan stated that jurors could not see the video, but prosecutors could play Trump’s exact words from the recording along with an email about it.

Trump is on trial in New York City on felony charges regarding a 2016 payment of hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

In April of last year, Trump entered a not guilty plea to a 34-count indictment that accused him of fabricating business records concerning a hush money payment to Daniels that his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to her in an attempt to improve his chances of winning the 2016 presidential election.

With a 6-8 week trial duration anticipated overall, jury selection may take up to two weeks.

“After seating the seventh juror in the case, Judge Juan Merchan reiterated his hope that opening statements could commence Monday if the remaining jurors are selected by then,” ABC News reported.

“The judge then concluded the proceedings for the day. Court will be in recess on Wednesday, and jury selection will resume Thursday with the fresh batch of 96 prospective jurors. With seven jurors now seated, 11 more jurors — six of them alternates — remain to be chosen,” the outlet added.

Until then, “put the case out of your mind,” Merchan told the seventh juror. “Don’t think about it, don’t talk about it.”

Six jurors have been selected to serve in the criminal trial of Donald Trump for hush money. They represent a diverse cross-section of New York City, as per their biographical information. For security reasons, their identities are being kept private. Here is a brief sketch of each juror.

Trump, who denies any wrongdoing in the New York criminal case, has repeatedly criticized it as a politically motivated witch hunt.

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