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Trump defense challenges jury selection in criminal hush money trial

Judge Juan Merchan denied Trump's motion for a delay as his defense submitted a pre-trial letter challenging the jury selection just days before the trial begins in New York City.

The defense team for former President Trump is challenging the jury selection in his criminal hush money trial, saying there are concerning issues that need to be addressed. 

Trump’s defense submitted a pre-trial letter to the court on Friday laying out two concerns relating to jury selection. The letter came the same day that Judge Juan Merchan dismissed a last-ditch effort by the Trump team to delay the trial, which begins Monday.

The letter states that the defense opposes dismissing potential jurors who “self-identify as being unable to serve,” calling it inadequate. Instead, the defense said they wish to use a hybrid method to differentiate between jurors who claim they cannot be fair and impartial and those who are simply unable to serve.


“That clarity is necessary so that President Trump can present arguments to the First Department, if and when necessary, regarding the number of potential jurors who believed they harbored a disqualifying bias before questioning, as well as the number of additional potential jurors who reveal a disqualifying bias during questioning,” the letter read.

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The defense also claims the jury questionnaire benefits the DA’s office by identifying people who affiliate with Trump’s political party.

“Second, while we agree that whether a potential juror ‘likes or does not like’ President Trump is not the central focus of jury selection, it is well established that a potential juror’s ‘negative opinion’ is a form of ‘actual bias’” the letter reads.

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Trump’s defense stated that the questionnaire lacks a similarly broad inquiry to identify potential jurors who align with rival political parties that are not necessarily “anti-Trump,” but could still support a disqualifying bias that is worthy of a follow-up inquiry by the defense. 

“The Court’s questionnaire asks about connections to any other political entity affiliated with Mr. Trump, which is a fairly direct inquiry regarding Republican Party affiliation. On the other hand, however, Questions 29. E-H ask only about ‘anti-Trump’ groups. People can have political or policy views that lead to disqualifying bias without being ‘anti-Trump.’ Thus, the questionnaire benefits DANY by identifying people who affiliate with President Trump’s political party,” the letter continued. 

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“To the extent the Court fails to remedy this asymmetry in the questionnaire, defense counsel must be permitted leeway to probe such affiliations during the jury selection process,” the letter finished.

Trump’s trial is related to accusations he falsified business records to cover up a payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election and is scheduled to begin Monday.

“I’m testifying. I tell the truth. I mean, all I can do is tell the truth,” Trump told reporters at a press conference at Mar-a-Lago Friday. “And the truth is, that there’s no case.”

Trump called his trial a “scam” and a “witch hunt” when asked if he planned to testify at his upcoming trial.

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“What they have done is incredible. It’s election interference, and it’s got to stop. It’s a third-world country. This country has never done it,” the former president said.

Trump’s trial comes as he prepares to challenge President Biden for another White House term later this year. Hunter Biden, the president’s son, faces legal challenges of his own, including federal tax and gun charges. 

Fox News’ Elizabeth Elkind and Brooke Singman contributed to this report. 

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