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Judge Warns Trump’s Lawyers After Former President Audibly Reacts During Questioning Of Potential Juror Over Her Facebook Posts — Update

UPDATE: Donald Trump‘s lawyers have been reviewing potential jurors’ social media posts, calling out those whose pledges to be impartial may conflict with their affinities on Facebook and other platforms.

But Judge Juan Merchan scolded the former president’s legal team for Trump’s audible reaction as one potential juror was being questioned over her past Facebook post that showed an outdoor celebration, captioned a “full-on dance party,” apparently tied to the 2020 election.

The potential juror defended the post, telling the judge that she had been re-parking her car when she spotted the celebration. She said that “regardless of my thoughts about anyone or anything or political feelings or convictions,” the “job of a juror is to understand the facts of a trial and to the judge of those facts,” per a pool report.

After the juror left the courtroom, Merchan told Trump’s lawyers that as she was being questioned, “your client was audible.” He said that he could not hear what Trump was saying but that he was “muttering” and “gesturing.”

“I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom,” the judge said, during Trump’s lawyers to speak to their client.

Merchan declined to dismiss the potential juror.

But he did excuse another potential juror who had a past social media post during the Trump presidency that read, “Good news!! Trump lost his court battle on his unlawful travel ban!! Get him out, and lock him up.” As the potential juror was being questioned over the post, Trump “flashed him a smirk,” according to the pool report.

PREVIOUSLY: Kara McGee, a jury pool candidate who was excused on Tuesday morning during the latest round of jury selection in Donald Trump’s hush money trial, told reporters outside the Manhattan courthouse she was disappointed to not be able to serve because of scheduling conflicts with her cybersecurity job. 

“I don’t approve of what he did as a president,” McGee told reporters, but added that the right to a fair trial was important enough to her that she could have put her feelings aside and judged the case impartially. 

“We all have prior opinions about the defendant,” she added.

McGee described the mood among jury candidates in the courtroom on Monday and Tuesday as tense as they took turns answering a 42-item juror questionnaire covering jobs, hobbies, family life, political activities and feelings about the case. “People did seem nervous … like no one wanted to talk to each other,” she said  

She said the gravity of the occasion was palpable: “You walked in and you felt like history was happening.”

She added that her first thought on walking into the courtroom on Monday and seeing the former president was, “Oh, he looks exactly like he does on TV,” she said.

Video via Sean Piccoli.

PREVIOUSLY: Donald Trump again blasted the judge in his hush money trial, before entering the courtroom this morning for what is a long slog through jury selection.

In what is likely to be a routine moment for each day’s proceedings, the former president stopped in the courthouse hallway to make brief remarks to reporters, seizing on the media’s need for visuals given the restrictions on cameras in the courtroom itself.

Trump called Judge Juan Merchan a “Trump hating judge” who should be recused from the case, although efforts to remove the judge have so far been rejected. Trump also again claimed that the case, involving hush money payments paid to Stormy Daniels in advance of the 2016 election, was orchestrated by Joe Biden. After Trump’s remarks, CNN quickly went to a fact check to note that the case is brought in the state of New York, not at the federal level, and by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Earlier today, on Truth Social Trump railed at some of the reporting on the trial’s first day, complaining of people “lying and spewing hate all day long” on TV. The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported that Trump dozed off at one moment during the proceedings, something that was quickly picked up by cable news and even late night comics.

Trump is under a partial gag order that prevents him from attacking the judge’s family and potential witnesses, among others.

The charges against Trump have to do with the recording of payments to his former attorney Michael Cohen as “legal expenses.” The indictment alleges that those expenses were actually reimbursement for hush money payments, and that it was part of a scheme to cover up damaging information in advance of the 2016 election. Trump told reporters today that “I was paying a lawyer and marked it down as legal expense. An accountant I didn’t know marked it down as a legal expense. That’s exactly what it was.”

Jury selection is expected to continue throughout the day today, with some 32 potential jurors remaining from an initial pool of 96. The process is slow, as each juror is given a list of 42 questions to answer as part of the voir dire process.

Outside the courthouse, the scene was quiet, with no demonstrators in the park across the street from the Manhattan complex.

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