Jury completely selected for historic US criminal trial against Trump

The jury for the historic criminal trial against former US President Donald Trump is complete. New York Judge Juan Merchan said on Friday that after the 12 jurors, the six alternate jurors had also been selected. “We have the full jury,” the judge said. This clears the way for the opening statements next Monday.

The first criminal trial in history against a former US president involves a hush money payment to former porn actress Stormy Daniels, which Trump is said to have covered up by falsifying business documents.

The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks, meaning the verdict will come well before the presidential election in November, in which Trump wants to run against his successor Joe Biden in a repeat of the 2020 duel.

The composition of the jury is an important basis for the trial, as the prosecution and defense must ensure that the jury is not biased in favor or against the defendant. Observers had therefore expected that jury selection could take several weeks. But Judge Merchan seemed determined from the start to see the trial through quickly.

Trump is accused by the New York prosecutor's office of falsifying business documents in 34 cases in order to cover up the payment of $130,000 (122,000 euros at today's rate) to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election. The money was used to silence the former porn actress about an alleged sexual encounter she said she had had with Trump ten years earlier.

Trump has pleaded not guilty. He has also denied any sexual contact with Stormy Daniels. If convicted, he could face a prison sentence – although legal experts believe this is unlikely. They are more likely to face a fine.

The right-wing populist Trump regularly describes himself as the victim of a “witch hunt”. He is also criminally charged in three other cases that are considered much more serious than the hush money case. This concerns the Republican's attempts to subsequently overturn his 2020 election defeat against the Democrat Biden, as well as the taking of secret government documents to his private estate in the state of Florida. However, it is unclear whether trials on these three other charges could begin before the election.