Democratic Voters Allowed to Be Jurors in Donald Trump Trial

Donald Trump’s legal team cannot ask potential jurors in his upcoming hush-money case about their voting intentions and history, or any past political contributions, according to restrictions imposed by presiding Judge Juan Merchan.

The rules, which also apply to the prosecution, mean supporters of the Democratic or Republican parties could serve on the jury, though only if the court is confident they can be impartial and judge the case based only on what they hear during the trial.

Trump has been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, which he allegedly did to hide a hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, a former adult-film actress, ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Daniels says she had sexual relations with Trump in 2006, which the presumptive Republican presidential nominee strongly denies. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges in the case.

On April 8, Merchan wrote to lawyers for both the prosecution and defense, setting out the process for jury selection. The trial is scheduled to begin in Manhattan on April 15.

In his letter, Merchan listed 42 questions that he agreed would be asked of each potential juror following discussions with both the prosecuting and defending legal teams.

He added that questions about a juror’s voting record had not been approved: “There are no questions asking prospective jurors whom they voted for or intend to vote for, or whom they have made political contributions to.

“Nor are jurors asked about their specific political party registration, though the answer to that question may easily be gleaned from the response to the other questions.

“Counsel is forewarned not to seek to expand the degree of intrusion beyond what is relevant and has already been approved.”

The 42 approved questions for each juror focus on their personal background, past experiences with law enforcement and the criminal justice system, past association with any Trump companies, and whether they believe they can be impartial.

The potential jurors may be asked about their attendance at pro- or anti-Trump rallies or about any involvement with a list of political movements, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Antifa.

Jurors may also be questioned about the “print publications, cable and or network programs, or online media” they consume—with The New York Times, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC among the publications listed.

Newsweek has contacted the office of Trump attorney Todd Blanche and the New York County District Attorney, which is overseeing the prosecution, for comment by email and voicemail, respectively, outside normal working hours.

Former president Donald Trump
Donald Trump at Trump National Doral Miami in Doral, Florida, on April 7. Potential jurors in the former president’s upcoming hush-money case cannot be asked about their voting records.

Megan Briggs/GETTY

On April 5, Trump’s legal team filed a motion to recuse Merchan from the case. On social media, Trump has launched repeated attacks on Loren Merchan, the judge’s daughter and a political consultant who has worked for progressive campaigns. Merchan expanded a gag order on April 1 to prohibit Trump from making statements about his family.

Appearing on MSNBC‘s Inside With Jen Psaki on April 7, Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general of the United States, said he was “almost certain” Trump would be convicted in the hush-money case.

Arguing that Trump’s efforts to get the trial delayed were likely to fail, Katyal said, “We will see that trial begin, and I strongly suspect Donald Trump will be convicted at the end of that trial.”