Trump trial: Dozens of jurors rejected as they say they cannot be impartial

Donald Trump’s unprecedented criminal trial has begun with half of a group of potential jurors ruled out within minutes on impartiality grounds.

Mr Trump denies falsifying business records to conceal a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Sixty of 96 potential jurors were quick to say in the New York court that they could not be impartial.

Those left were then asked multiple questions, including about their news and book reading habits.

“I just couldn’t do it,” one prospective juror was heard saying as she left court on Monday.

The dismissals were an indication of how challenging it could be to find a group of 12 impartial jurors for a case concerned with a high-profile sex scandal involving a former president running once again for the White House.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office alleges that Mr Trump directed his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to pay Ms Daniels $130,000 (£104,000) in exchange for her silence about an alleged sexual encounter that the former president denies took place.

Prosecutors say he did so to “unlawfully influence” the 2016 election. Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty.

Jury selection began in the afternoon. The judge started by dismissing jurors who raised their hand to say they could not be impartial, leaving around 34 people.

Those left were then grilled on 42 questions in the jury questionnaire, including on their news-reading habits, whether they had attended any Trump rallies or read any of the former president’s books.

Eighteen were placed at random in the jury box, and they answered the questionnaire one by one.

One man from Midtown Manhattan said that he read the Wall Street Journal. Another from the Upper West Side said his radio habits included listening to whatever was on when he was in the shower. He later clarified he meant NPR.

Neither was dismissed immediately.

A woman was asked: “Do you have any strong opinions or firmly held beliefs about former president Donald Trump, or the fact that he is a current candidate for president, that would interfere with your ability to be a fair and impartial juror?”

She simply replied “yes” and was dismissed, although Mr Trump’s team initially objected to excusing her.

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