Trump's lawyers and prosecutors spar over 'lock him up' posts and 2020 social media. Here's what you missed on trial Day 2.

The task of finding 12 impartial jurors was off to a bumpy start Tuesday as attorneys for Donald Trump, a former president known for his unfiltered use of social media, pressed New Yorkers about whether they could fairly judge him.

A prospective juror pronounced Trump “totally guilty” in an interview outside the courthouse Monday. A day later, that person, an American history teacher, was struck from a rapidly winnowing pool of more than 500 New Yorkers.

Lawyers excavated ancient social media posts, asked jurors to explain inconsistent answers and tried to strike from the pool candidates they feared could spell danger for their case.

At one point, the judge presiding over the case, Juan Merchan, warned Trump that he should not try to intimidate potential jurors.

Trump is defending himself against 34 felony counts of falsifying business records for his alleged role in arranging a hush money payment to a porn star during the 2016 presidential election. He has denied all charges.

As Trump’s attorneys closely watched each juror, Todd Blanche, his lead attorney, took handwritten notes. Some of the answers prompted a smile. Trump mostly looked straight ahead.

By the numbers

The selection process started with 96 jurors in the first batch. By Tuesday, more than half had been excused after they said they could not be fair or impartial. That left 34. From there, 18 were seated in the jury box and winnowed down to six. And then six more were brought in, who were reduced to one.

Seven jurors, including a former waiter, an oncology nurse, an attorney, an IT consultant, a teacher and a software engineer, were seated by the late afternoon in a process that took two days. Merchan appeared optimistic a jury of 12 New Yorkers and most likely six alternates could be seated by the end of the week. The trial resumes Thursday and Friday.

He told the selected jurors to plan to return at 9:30 a.m. Monday, signaling the likelihood that the selection process will be over by then.

Where jurors get their news

TikTok. YouTube. One woman, a high school teacher for more than 20 years, said she somehow ended up on an email list from the conservative news outlet The Daily Caller. “I don’t generally read the emails,” she said before she was stuck.

Another juror said he reads The New York Times and the New York Daily News and uses social media. “I do Google. I do X,” he said.

Jurors were asked whether they read The New York Times or watched CNN as the lawyers queried the pool to get a better sense of their knowledge of the charges against Trump in New York and his other legal cases, as well as what they think of them.

Several jurors professed not to consume much news at all, including a lawyer who explained that his wife is not a fan.

Another, a teacher and Harlem native, said she does not pay attention to politics or the media. She said that she does not have strong opinions but that, as a person of color, she has friends with strong opinions about Trump. But she did share one, praising him as a person “who speaks his mind.”

“I’d rather that than someone who’s in office who you don’t know what they’re thinking,” she said.

When Blanche asked the group whether they were familiar with the other charges Trump faces, she appeared to be the sole juror not to raise her hand. She was seated on the jury.

Another juror professed to have been away through February and March, living on a lake without Wi-Fi. “Knowing this was going to happen, I really tried not to hear about this case, and I blocked the news,” the person said. She was struck by Trump’s lawyers.

Social media

One juror said she does not tweet and had quit Twitter after two days. Another said that her Facebook page and the political materials posted to it were not representative of her views and that she had sought to remove it. One man, a resident of Hell’s Kitchen who is originally from Mexico, said he could not be held responsible for the views of his Facebook friends. “Feelings are not facts,” he insisted.

At one point, Merchan apologized for causing potential offense as he read political memes about Trump, including one about a group of Thai boys who were trapped in a cave in 2018. Another meme shared by a juror included side-by-side photos of Trump and former President Barack Obama with a caption reading, “I don’t think this is what they meant when they said orange is the new black.”

It wasn’t clear whether jurors had written every post themselves or reposted others. But the materials were cause for Trump’s lawyer to press the jurors repeatedly — including about Facebook posts from Occupy Democrats that one woman claimed not to be responsible for and said she did not know how to remove.

Impartiality tests

The defense scoured the internet, unearthing comments from prospective jurors that showed hostility to Trump or ran contrary to what they had told the court in questionnaires.

Speculation over seemingly nonpartisan events — such as a post about an Election Day celebration in the city, a Democratic stronghold, in 2020 — became the basis for queries that sought to probe any stronger biases that could sway a juror one way or another.

Other commentary was more overt. “Republicans projected to pick up 70 seats in prison,” a potential juror had posted.

That person said she lost sleep Monday night over whether she could judge the case fairly, Blanche said, explaining how the prosecution and the defense had “a fair bit of colloquy” with her.

But he argued that while the post may be dated, it still mattered. “The evidence at trial is going to be six years old,” he said.

Merchan removed a juror who used the words “lock him up,” words closely associated with Trump, who had led a similar chant about Hillary Clinton during his 2016 presidential run.

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