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Trump Trial Update: 3 New Alternates Join Jury Panel as Opening Statements Approach in 'Hush Money' Case 2024-05-21 02:34:22

In preparation for the commencement of opening statements in former President Donald Trump's New York criminal trial, Judge Juan Merchan has pushed for Monday as the kickoff date. To fulfill this aim, he sought to fill five additional alternate juror positions before Friday's proceedings. Making strides towards this objective, three more alternates were seated in the afternoon following extensive questioning by attorneys from both camps. However, two alternate slots remain vacant.

Over the initial three days of jury selection, twelve jurors and one alternate were successfully seated. The process, though, has been marked by numerous individuals being promptly excused for expressing doubts about their impartiality. Additionally, two seated jurors were excused post-swearing-in, with one citing concerns about impartiality arising from public exposure as a juror and the other being flagged by prosecutors due to a previously undisclosed arrest.

Further dismissals occurred during Friday's proceedings, including several individuals who realized they couldn't maintain impartiality. Those who have been sworn in as jurors and alternates were selected from two pools of 96 Manhattanites summoned for jury duty. Roughly two dozen potential jurors from the second group remain under consideration.

Should the remaining five alternates not be selected from this pool, a third group of 96 individuals sworn in on Thursday will be called upon. Merchan hinted at the possibility of holding a pretrial hearing on Friday to establish the boundaries of topics prosecutors can explore if Trump opts to testify. Prosecutors, as revealed in a filing on Wednesday, are keen to question Trump on various high-profile legal setbacks to undermine his credibility. This includes a recent nearly half-billion-dollar civil fraud judgment, two civil federal jury verdicts finding him liable for defamation and sexual abuse, violations of gag orders, and sanctions for filing a "frivolous, bad faith lawsuit" against Hillary Clinton.

Trump's legal team contends that all these subjects should be off-limits in this trial, which centers on reimbursements to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen for a "hush money" payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Prosecutors allege that Trump orchestrated the concealment of these reimbursements to distance himself from the payment made just days before the 2016 presidential election, which temporarily silenced Daniels regarding an alleged affair. Trump has consistently denied any involvement in the affair. Presently, he has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and vehemently refutes all accusations leveled against him in this case.

For CBS News Digital, investigative reporter Graham Kates delves into criminal justice, privacy matters, and information security. Contact Graham at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In conclusion, the trial of former President Donald Trump in New York is poised to enter a critical phase as opening statements draw near. With the seating of additional alternate jurors and the contentious debate over permissible lines of questioning, the stage is set for a high-stakes legal battle. As Trump's legal team seeks to limit the scope of the prosecution's inquiry, the central focus remains on allegations surrounding reimbursements to Michael Cohen and the ensuing "hush money" payment to Stormy Daniels. As the trial unfolds, all eyes will be on the courtroom as the legal saga of one of America's most polarizing figures continues to captivate public attention.

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