Panel of 12 jurors sworn in for Trump’s historic hush money trial: Ex-president blasts ‘witch hunt’ as he leaves court

The panel of 12 Manhattan residents who will ultimately decide the fate of former president Donald Trump in his New York criminal trial have now been seated.

After three days of jury selection, in which hundreds of New Yorkers were called to the New York Criminal Court, sworn in and asked personal questions, the majority of jury selection concluded on Thursday – with a panel of five women and seven men sworn in.

One alternative has also been seated, with five more needed to complete the full panel of 12 jurors and six alternates.

After the historic day, an irate Mr Trump left the courthouse and immediately launched into his usual rhetoric – baselessly claiming that the case is a “witch hunt”, blaming the “crook” President Joe Biden for his criminal charges and falsely claiming that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is the real culprit falsifying fraudulent documents.

He also fumed about having to sit in the “freezing room” in court when he should be campaigning for the White House, calling it a “whopping outrage”.

The 12 individuals have a wide range of educational backgrounds, some have advanced degrees. Some of them work as lawyers, others in finance and a few are retired.

Many of the jurors reported that they did not follow the news closely. One said they do not have any form of social media.

So long as no juror contacts the court to inform them they can no longer serve, or they’re dismissed, the panel of 12 will be the individuals who decide if Mr Trump is guilty of a string of criminal charges in what marks a landmark case for America.

The former president is accused of falsifying 34 business records to cover up alleged hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

That cover-up was allegedly part of a wider catch-and-kill scheme in which Mr Trump is said to have sought to suppress negative stories about him in a bid to ultimately influence the outcome of the election.

Mr Trump has denied all wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Despite concerns that the jury selection process would take a long time, the defence, prosecution and judge managed to pick 12 individuals fairly quickly. At the beginning of the day, two previously selected jurors were dismissed after they raised concerns over their identities.

Judge Merchan has asked the media to keep any information, other than that stated during selection, private to help keep the jury anonymous. He also asked to redact answers to questions regarding current and former employers.

Though the first 12 jurors, and one alternate,  have been seated, jury selection is not over.

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