Donald Trump is not the Trump Organization’s defendant in New YorkBut will potential jurors be able to separate the former president from the company that made him famous?
That’s the main question they are being asked, as the company’s prosecutors and lawyers try to select an impartial panel.Where Trump and his company have made headlines for decades – and more than 86% of voters voted against him in 2020 – not everyone can promise that.
A potential juror said on Monday, “I despise anything with Trump. I’m sorry.” He was forgiven.
Any other can be forgiven for logical reasons anyway.
“I’m traveling from November 19th to November 30th, and I hate Donald Trump too, if that’s of merit,” she said.
Not everyone called for jury duty was against Trump. One person said she would “be for President Trump because I feel like this is a politically motivated affair.” He was forgiven.
Neither Trump nor any of his family members were indicted in the case. Two Trump Organization entities, the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation, have filed pleas of not guilty in 14 counts related to the charges the company provided “indirect employee compensation” to executives.
The group of 130 potential jurors — which should eventually be narrowed down to 18, including six options — were first asked whether they had scheduling issues, unfounded bias or conflicts of interest.
According to the tapes, those struggles ranged from personal to professional.
One man said his wife hosted a “Total Shabbat” attended by Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and their son. He was not forgiven in the beginning. Trump’s daughter and her husband reappeared when a soon-to-be-exploded jury said he and his wife were “family friends of the Kushner family.” “My firm also has exposure to certain loans where the Trump Organization is the borrower,” he said.
Another person previously worked in accounting for a construction firm. He said the Trump Organization “had a very bad reputation for not paying vendors.” He was forgiven.
One man said he knew Eric Trump in college at Georgetown University, and described an episode in which “a lacrosse player tried to kill him because he was — like — Eric Trump.” Hoya alum was not initially forgiven.
Potential jurors who didn’t have clear conflicts were given a four-page questionnaire that included two “yes” or “no,” asking specifically whether they had formed an opinion about Trump or his company.
On Tuesday, the answers to those questions were front and center as lawyers and prosecutors lambasted those who claimed they could put aside their prior opinion.
“Let’s talk about the elephant in the room for a minute or – more precisely – the elephant is not in the room,” said Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass. “You’ll see Donald Trump isn’t sitting at that table. It’s because he hasn’t been charged with a crime here.”
He and other lawyers spent several hours trying to determine whether potential jurors could be counted on to make up that distinction.
For many people, it was easy.
“I like to describe the matter – this is not a referendum on Donald Trump; this is not a propaganda contest. This is a test of companies about what they did, not the person they are. . Can you observe that distinction during trial?” Stingglass asked a potential juror.
“Yes, I can,” she replied. Most said they believed they could.
For some who were eventually forgiven, the promise was not good enough.
One revealed under questioning that, having grown up in Midtown, she had known about the company and Trump for most of her life and that “in my mind he has been associated with fraud, but I’ll put that aside.”
Another said Tuesday that he thinks “Mr. Trump has no morals,” and “I think he’s a criminal. I think he’s done irreparable damage to this country.” But, he added, “That’s why I think I can be fair in this matter, because I think the issues here… are trivial in comparison to the horrible things they did.”
As the two-day proceedings ended, seven jury members were administered the oath. The judge expects the remaining 11 to be selected in time to begin the opening statement on Monday, October 31.