Full jury selected for Trump hush money trial

NEW YORK — The 12 New Yorkers who will decide whether or not Donald Trump is a felon before this year’s presidential election were seated during a dramatic day of proceedings Thursday, leaving the court to find five alternates before his historic hush money trial begins in earnest.

“We have our jury,” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan announced close to 5 p.m. “Let’s pick our alternates.”

One of those chosen is among Trump’s Truth Social followers, who’s read “The Art of the Deal,” while another admitted she didn’t “like his persona.”

“He’s very selfish and self-serving, so I don’t appreciate that in any public servant,” she said. “I don’t know him as a person, so I don’t know how he is in terms of his integrity. It’s just not my cup of tea.”

The jurors — seven men and three women from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds — were among more than 150 people surveyed this week and were selected after Merchan excused two chosen to serve on Tuesday. One alternate was also seated.

One of the two who were dismissed told the court she was too scared to serve after her friends and family had guessed she was on the panel from her description in media reports, bombarding her with messages.

Merchan requested journalists take extra precautions when describing the panelists and issued a directive not to report on their place of employment. As a safety measure, he ruled that their identities would remain anonymous to the public and their addresses unknown to Trump before the trial started.

Also Thursday — less than a week into his trial and just days after prosecutors notified the court that Trump had potentially broken a gag order prohibiting him from commenting on trial participants — Assistant District Attorney Chris Conroy flagged another seven instances of Trump violating the order. They included posts about anticipated star witness Michael Cohen and the jury.

“It’s ridiculous, it has to stop,” Conroy said, describing a post that went up on Trump’s Truth Social account late Wednesday quoting Fox News host Jesse Watters disparaging the jurors as “liberal activists” as especially disturbing.

Prosecutors had already asked Merchan to hold Trump in criminal contempt for three offending online posts on Monday and fine him $1,000 apiece. On Thursday, they said they were exploring other options. Merchan is expected to address the matter at a hearing next week.

In response to the prosecution’s request, Trump lawyer Emil Bove said Trump’s posts did not “establish any willful violations.” He claimed his attacks against Cohen were him defending himself as a political candidate, not a defendant.

The presumptive Republican nominee brought a brazen attitude to the courthouse, accusing Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of the crimes he’s accused of after proceedings wrapped for the day.

“Bragg falsified business records … He’s the fraud,” Trump said while holding a six-inch stack of papers, which he said contained stories by “legal experts” criticizing the case.

“And I’m sitting here for days now — from morning till night in that freezing room. Freezing. Everybody was freezing in there and all of this.”

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsification of New York business records alleging that throughout 2017, after winning the presidency, he disguised reimbursement to his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, for facilitating a hush-money scheme to defraud the 2016 electorate that violated election laws.

Among the alleged recipients of the scheme expected to testify are porn star Stormy Daniels — who Cohen went to prison for paying off — and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who each allege Trump cheated on Melania with them in 2006, soon after they wed. Trump denies the allegations.

The trial resumes Friday, and Merchan has told jurors to plan on coming back for opening statements on Monday.