The hush money trial against Trump is ongoing despite his antics. Don’t expect him to give up

(ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

The hush money trial against Trump is ongoing despite his antics. Don’t expect him to give up

Opinion piece, Elections 2024

Harry Litman

April 15, 2024

After a pretrial period filled with youthful tantrums, inattentive attempts to delay the proceedings and vicious attacks on prosecutors, the president and New Yorkers in general, Donald Trump is about to meet the men and women who will decide whether he is guilty is facing 34 felony charges.

With the start of his historic hush-money trial in Manhattan on Monday, the former president could be expected to abandon these so-far unsuccessful tactics. But don’t bet on it.

The opening proceedings of the trial will likely feature much the same kind of irritability and swearing from the defendant, now relegated to the jury selection process.

Expect Trump to beat the same drum in recent months as he has for several months, attacking anyone within legal reach, that is, not expressly off-limits under the muzzle that Judge Juan M. Merchan has imposed and played the martyr who suffers for his followers at the hands of the anti-rebels. -MAGA Elite.

Even as he faces the tangible prospect of conviction and prison, although an appeal could take several years, his strategy will be more political than legal. He hopes to win the presidency and then figure out how to clean up the various train wrecks left in his path.

For starters, this means that Trump and his legal team can be expected to rail against Merchandise’s decisions about who should be on the jury.

Like most jurisdictions, Manhattan follows a set of rules that impose a rigorous strategy on litigants. Each side has 10 golden tickets, known as peremptory challenges, which can be used to exclude a prospective juror for any reason (as long as it is not unconstitutionally based on race). Furthermore, each party can argue for any number of challenges.

The latter are intended for jurors who, according to the litigants, are unfit to sit for a number of reasons. They may have a close relationship with a party or attorney in the case, have personal experience with the type of crime alleged, or have some other conflict or bias. In general, the court must agree that they are unable to carry out the jurors’ core responsibility of fairly applying the law to the evidence.

The prosecution and defense will use different strategies. The Public Prosecution Service will need reasonable and persuasive people who can work together collegially and reach consensus. Their ideal candidate may be a well-trained professional.

Trump, meanwhile, faces little prospect of an acquittal, so his team will look for a juror willing to beat the other eleven, no matter how strong their consensus. That means a maverick whose life choices reflect indifference or even antipathy toward the masses.

Given a defendant of Trump’s fame, the jury will inevitably include people with strong opinions about him. The quest of the jury selection process is not for people who have no opinion about the former president, but rather for those who can put aside their personal opinions and make a judgment based on the evidence and the law.

That means potential jurors can present themselves and express views, including negative views about Trump, but, after questioning by the judge and prosecutor, they can apply the law and reach a fair verdict.

Even if Trump’s side argues that a juror is inclined to convict, the judge may side with the prosecutors and conclude that they can do their duty. And then Trump’s counsel will have to decide whether to use one of their costly peremptory challenges. Ultimately, they will be forced to accept jurors they don’t like.

Such losing arguments will add more fuel to Trump’s eternal fire of victimhood and discontent, and we can expect him to use them as alleged evidence of the deep state conspiracy to bring him down. And if his complaints exceed the limits of Merchan’s silence orders, they could set off an additional series of bitter legal battles. Prosecutors have already taken steps to have Trump arrested on the eve and beginning of the trial in contempt of inflammatory social media posts.

Trump’s political strategy has always been at odds with his legal vulnerability, leading him to vilify the judges who presided over his cases and essentially dare them to hold him in contempt. Now that a jury is reviewing his conduct, that strategy will go from questionable to stupid. Yet he has given us no reason to expect him to stop.

Expect the jury selection process and trial to feature more of Trump’s tantrums in the courtroom and tirades on the courthouse steps, testing the patience of everyone involved, not least the judge.

Harry Litman is the host of the

Talking Feds Podcast

and the

Speaking of San Diego

speaker series.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Hot Topics

Related Articles