NEW YORK: The judge in Donald Trump’s criminal trial hoped to wrap up jury selection on Saturday before opening arguments start next week in the historic case against the former president.

The main 12 jurors were sworn in on Thursday, but a pool of six alternates still needs to be completed _ ready to step in if any of the original jury become unavailable during the case in which Trump is accused of covering up hush money paid to a porn star.

The difficulty of choosing jurors who will be impartial when judging one of the most controversial men in the country — and also able to set aside as much as two months of their time — has been clear throughout the selection process this week. Two women in the pool of dozens of ordinary New Yorkers being vetted for the final jury slots on Friday burst into tears as they answered probing questions from attorneys.

“I’m sorry. I thought I could do this,” said one who was quickly released by judge Juan Merchan. “This is so much more stressful than I thought it was going to be.”

Trump arrived in court and delivered an angry statement about what he called the “very unfair” partial gag order imposed by Merchan to prevent him from using his powerful media presence to attack witnesses, prosecutors and relatives of court staff. “The judge has to take off this gag order,” said Trump, who has a long history, including while president, of making threatening or insulting statements against private and public opponents. Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2024

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