Criminal Trial for Trump’s Companies Gets Underway in Earnest

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Jury selection gave a sense of why the ex-president may soon be sweating the tax dodging case.

Jury selection began in New York City this week for the criminal trial in which former president Donald Trump’s companies face charges for dodging taxes. Even after the judge in the case dismissed about half of the 130 potential jurors called—many because they made clear that they did not think they could be impartial—the remaining jurors quizzed by attorneys on both sides displayed remarkable antipathy toward the former president.

“I think Mr. Trump has no morals, I think he thinks only of himself. I think he is a criminal. I think he’s done irreparable damage to this country,” one potential juror responded to an attorney for the Trump Organization on Tuesday morning when asked if he had any strong feelings about Trump. 

The man said his belief that Trump has terribly harmed the country was exactly why he could be impartial: “Anything he has done, to do with anything here is trivial compared to all that,” the man said. 

Ultimately, that potential juror was dismissed, but as he gave his assessment of Trump’s character it sent ripples of amusement through the dozens of other prospective jurors waiting their turn to be interrogated by the judge and attorneys and set off a loud clattering of keyboards from the throng of reporters at the back of the courtroom. 

A woman who was also eventually dismissed said that as a native New Yorker, she also had a very poor view of Trump, specifically the way she believes he does business. “Growing up I knew people who worked in Atlantic City who never got paid by him,” she said, going on to list other issues she had with Trump’s companies. “To have that experience, of many companies that he’s been associated with being, in my mind, associated with fraud—but I would set that aside.”

Another person who said she strongly disliked Trump and disagreed with his Supreme Court Justice picks as president still made it onto the jury. No jurors interviewed openly expressed any particular sympathy or affection for Trump, and among jurors who didn’t have something negative to say, Trump at best seemed to elicit boredom.

In total, over the first day and a half of jury selection, a total of seven jurors were picked—11 more are needed to complete the jury and a slate of alternates. The trial itself could start as early as Monday. 

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