Slowly, jury selection in the Trump Organization tax fraud trial begins.
The Trump Organization tax fraud trial in Manhattan began on Monday, beginning a procedure that attorneys believe will lead to the selection of an impartial jury by the end of the week.
A panel of 130 potential jurors was sworn in by the court on Monday morning, and by lunchtime, nearly half of them had been disqualified due to schedule conflicts or bias that was stated in a private session without the presence of the media.
A case worker from Manhattan’s Lower East Side was booted from the jury during the lunch break when she responded affirmatively to a question about whether she would be biased against Trump. Twelve other jurors who were questioned stated that they either had opinions but were able to put them aside in order to be objective, or that they had no trouble being fair and impartial.
The goal of Tuesday will be to screen out any bias among the potential jurors, said to Michael van der Veen, an attorney for one of the Trump organizations implicated.
Tomorrow, we’ll really plod along and get to the heart of people’s interests and their capacity for fairness. Van der Veen stated this outside of court on Monday, “That’s basically where we’re going to be going tomorrow.
He continued by saying that he hoped jury selection will be finished by Friday.
On Tuesday, the defendants’ and Trump Organization’s attorneys will each have 30 minutes to question the witnesses. As they get closer to choosing 12 jurors plus a few alternates to hear the evidence in the trial that may take at least five weeks, a fresh panel of jurors is anticipated to be sworn in late in the morning.
Nine counts of tax fraud, grand larceny, and falsifying business documents are brought against two Trump Organization corporations in what prosecutors claim was a 15-year plot to cheat tax authorities by neglecting to declare and pay taxes on employee salaries.
The Trump Organization has entered a not-guilty plea and claimed that the case is driven by politics. Judge Juan Merchan quizzed the prosecution team and the Trump defense team about the length of their cases at a brief hearing on Monday before jury selection got underway.
One of the prosecutors, Joshua Steinglass, stated that they anticipate needing 10 court days to make their case in addition to the time required for Trump’s lawyers to cross-examine witnesses. The only witness the Trump Organization plans to call is an expert witness, who may testify for a whole day, according to Susan Necheles, an attorney for the Trump Organization.
She noted that the defense might call certain witnesses if the prosecution doesn’t call them.
There would be a three- to five-day wait, according to a second Trump attorney. The jury will be informed by the judge that the trial might go on for five to six weeks.