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The process of choosing the jury for Donald Trump's hush money trial in New York is almost complete

Lawyers are working to round out the panel of 12 jurors and six alternates who will hear Donald Trump’s hush money trial. Jury selection could be nearing a close Friday, setting the stage for closing arguments as early as Monday.

By JENNIFER PELTZ, MICHAEL R. SISAK, JAKE OFFENHARTZ and ALANNA DURKIN RICHER (Associated Press)

On Friday, lawyers worked to complete the group of 12 jurors and six alternates who will listen to Donald Trump's hush money trial. Meanwhile, the former president criticized a gag order that has led to prosecutors trying to hold him in contempt of court.

After a jury of 12 New Yorkers was selected on Thursday , lawyers focused on choosing alternates who can promise to put aside their personal opinions and judge the potential Republican presidential nominee fairly. Thursday's proceedings showed the unpredictability in the jury selection process for such a high-profile case, with two previously seated jurors being dismissed from the panel., the judge has suggested that opening statements may start as early as Monday, before prosecutors present their case accusing Trump of trying to cover up negative stories.

that he feared would harm his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump will be in a Manhattan courtroom for weeks, navigating his dual roles as a defendant and political candidate, in the midst of his closely contested race against President Joe Biden. The trial will involve sensational and unflattering testimonies that his opponent will likely use to try to portray Trump as unfit to return as president. After arriving at the courthouse on Friday, Trump expressed dissatisfaction with the gag order placed by the judge that restricts what he can publicly say about witnesses. He has criticized the judge, prosecutors, and potential witnesses on social media, leading the district attorneys to seek penalties for potential violations of the gag order.

The case will require Trump to be in a Manhattan courtroom for weeks, where he will have to handle being a criminal defendant and a political candidate while competing against President Joe Biden. The trial will involve scandalous and unflattering testimonies that his opponent is likely to use to try to show that Trump is not fit to return as president. After arriving at the courthouse on Friday, Trump expressed frustration with the gag order imposed by the judge, limiting what he can say about witnesses publicly. He criticized the judge, prosecutors, and potential witnesses on social media, leading the district attorneys to seek punishments for potential violations of the gag order. After a new group of potential jurors entered the courtroom, one woman who admitted she couldn't be completely fair was excused.

Judge Juan M. Merchan is also expected to hold a hearing on Friday to consider a request from prosecutors to bring up Trump's previous legal troubles if he testifies in the hush money case. Manhattan prosecutors want to question Trump about his recent civil fraud trial, which ended in a $454 million judgment after a judge found Trump had lied about his wealth for years. He is appealing that decision.

Trump insists he is innocent and claims he is the victim of a justice system that is unfairly targeting him and trying to prevent him from returning to the White House.

The jury of New Yorkers consists of a sales professional, a software engineer, a security engineer, an English teacher, a speech therapist, several lawyers, an investment banker, and a retired wealth manager.

The trial focuses on a $130,000 payment that Michael Cohen – Trump's former lawyer and personal fixer – made to porn actor Stormy Daniels to stop her allegations of a sexual encounter with Trump from becoming public in the final days of the 2016 race.

The prosecutors say Trump hid the true nature of the payments in the company's records when they reimbursed Cohen. Cohen, who admitted guilt in 2018, is expected to testify for the prosecution.

Trump has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels, and his lawyers claim that the payments to Cohen were valid legal expenses.

Trump is facing 34 felony charges for falsifying business records. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to up to four years in prison, although it's uncertain if the judge would choose to imprison him. Trump would most likely appeal any conviction. four cases involving criminal charges, but it’s not clear if any others will go to trial before the November election. Appeals and legal disputes have caused delays in the other three cases accusing Trump of

planning to overturn the 2020 election results

illegally keeping classified documents

Richer reported from Washington.

Trump faces Lawyers are working to complete the panel of 12 jurors and six alternates who will hear Donald Trump’s hush money trial. Jury selection could be almost finished by Friday, leading to closing arguments as soon as Monday. As the former president complained about a gag order and the prosecutors seeking to hold him in contempt of court after arriving at the courthouse. After a jury of 12 New Yorkers was chosen on Thursday, lawyers are now focused on selecting the remaining alternates who can promise to set aside their personal opinions and judge the presumptive Republican presidential nominee impartially., but it’s not clear that any others will reach trial before the November election. Appeals and legal wrangling have caused delays in the other three cases charging Trump with plotting to overturn the 2020 election results and with illegally hoarding classified documents.

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Richer reported from Washington.

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