Trial against Donald Trump: First day concludes without jury selection

The trial against former President Donald Trump in the case in which he is accused of alter financial records to cover up payments made with the aim of silencing news about his sex life, began this Monday, April 15, with the arduous process of selecting the jury members.

However, the day ended without any member being elected. The selection process is scheduled to resume this Tuesday.

The first criminal trial against a former US president has begun as Trump seeks to return to the White House, creating a remarkable two-track spectacle of the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, who alternates his days as a defendant and campaigning for the presidency. He has combined those roles over the past year by appearing at rallies and on social media as victim of politically motivated criminal proceedings in order to derail his candidacy.

“Thats false. It's a political witch hunt. It goes on and on forever,” Trump said as he left the courthouse, where he sat at the defendants' table next to his lawyers.

After a norm-breaking presidency that was overshadowed by years of investigations, the trial amounts to a historic reckoning for Trump, who now faces four indictments for crimes ranging from having in his possession confidential documents even conspiring to overturn an election. What is at stake in the political arena is less clear, since a conviction would not prevent him from becoming president and because the accusations in this case date back years and are considered less serious than those in the other three trials.

The day began with preliminary arguments — including a possible fine for Trump — before moving on to jury selection, where all parties involved will decide who could be selected to determine the legal fate of the former Republican president.

After the first group of potential jurors were called to the courthouse, Trump turned his head to get a good look at them, whispering to his lawyer as they entered the jury box.

“They are about to participate in a jury trial. The jury trial system is one of the cornerstones of our judicial system,” said Judge Juan M. Merchan. “The name of this case is the State of New York v. Donald Trump.”

Only about a third of the 96 people on the first panel of potential jurors remained after the judge excused some members. More than half of the group was excused after telling the judge that they could not be fair and impartial. At least nine more were excused after raising their hands when Merchan asked them if they could not serve for some other reason.