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What We Learned : Day 2 of Trump New York hush money trial

What we covered here today

Our live coverage has concluded. Please scroll through the posts below to learn about the second day of Trump’s trial in New York.

If you’re just catching up, here are the takeaways from day 2 of the Trump hush money trial:

We have (more than half) a jury: So far four men and three women have been selected to serve on the jury. A man originally from Ireland who works in sales in New York City was appointed as the jury foreperson, who essentially serves as the panel spokesperson. Five of the seven have a college degree or higher education. Two men on the panel are lawyers. All but one juror empaneled Tuesday indicated that they’re aware Trump is facing charges in other criminal cases. The woman was the only one of the 18 jurors questioned who said she wasn’t aware of the other charges. None of them shared particularly strong views about Trump or politics.

Trump’s lawyers scrutinize jurors’ social media: Trump’s side asked the judge to remove five jurors for cause, pointing to alleged anti-Trump social media posts and trying to argue that the jurors were unfairly biased against the former president. When the former president’s attorney Todd Blanche was questioning the jurors, he asked them one by one what they thought of Trump, outside of the case. He then tried to argue before the judge that many of the jurors’ answers that they didn’t have an opinion of Trump did not align with their social media. Judge Juan Merchan was generally skeptical but he did agree on two counts that the jurors should be struck. As for the three jurors Merchan did not strike: Trump’s side used its preemptory challenges to remove all of them anyway. After Tuesday, both Trump’s team and the district attorney’s office have four peremptory challenges left.

Trump gets admonished (again): Trump was admonished for his conduct when Merchan brought in one of the jurors individually to discuss her social media posts raised by Trump’s team. After the juror left the courtroom, Merchan raised his voice and admonished Trump, saying he was audibly speaking and gesturing in the direction of the juror. “I will not have any jurors intimidated in the courtroom,” Merchan told Blanche, raising his voice.

Jury selection could end – maybe – by the end of the week: One of the things Merchan has emphasized this week is that the court schedule is fluid. But the judge is hoping to wrap up jury selection this week. After swearing in the seven jurors Tuesday, Merchan told them he hopes they could return next Monday for opening statements – but he emphasized that the schedule could always change and the court would be in touch.

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump returns to the nation’s capitol on Thursday, but under much different circumstances than the former president would like as he faces federal allegations that he conspired to overturn the 2020 election results.

Trump, now facing a third court case during the 2024 presidential campaign, is expected to appear in person for his arraignment in federal court. He has denied wrongdoing and cast the indictment as an attempt to thwart his attempt to retake the White House.

“Why didn’t they do this 2.5 years ago?” Trump posted on his Truth Social account. “Why did they wait so long? Because they wanted to put it right in the middle of my campaign. Prosecutorial misconduct!”

But Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith laid out a stark argument on Tuesday when the charges were unsealed. He said Trump and six co-conspirators targeted a “bedrock function” of U.S. democracy when the former president tried to block the, “nation’s process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election.”

Donald Trump issued one of his periodic official statements, expressing his regret about the course of Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine. He did not use the name Putin.

Nor, for that matter, did he use the word attack. Instead, Trump framed the invasion as a problem the two countries have tragically failed to work out together.

This remarkable construction deserves closer analysis, but first it’s worth understanding the context. Trump infamously described Putin as a “genius” for massing troops on Ukraine’s border. He has repeatedly declined efforts by allies such as Sean Hannity to coax him into condemning the invasion.

His official statements have followed a handful of familiar themes. Russia’s invasion is Joe Biden’s fault (“Putin is playing Biden like a drum!”). Trump strengthened NATO (“I hope everyone is able to remember that it was me, as President of the United States, that got delinquent NATO members to start paying their dues, which amounted to hundreds of billions of dollars”).

But the most peculiar aspect is Trump’s habit of using the passive voice. That is not a construction he employs frequently, but in this case, it serves his purpose of presenting Russia’s invasion as if it were a natural disaster — a tragedy that occurred naturally with no author or source of blame. He has used this device repeatedly.

February 22: “If properly handled, there was absolutely no reason that the situation currently happening in Ukraine should have happened at all.”

February 24: “If I were in Office, this deadly Ukraine situation would never have happened!”

March 1: “The RINOs, Warmongers, and Fake News continue to blatantly lie and misrepresent my remarks on Putin because they know this terrible war being waged against Ukraine would have never happened under my watch … There should be no war waging now in Ukraine, and it is terrible for humanity that Biden, NATO, and the West have failed so terribly in allowing it to start.”

March 15: “Now with what’s going on with Russia and Ukraine, among many other things, the great and wonderful people of Hungary need the continued strong leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Orban more than ever.” (Note that, among the NATO countries, Orbán has taken a uniquely pro-Russia stance. So Trump’s argument that “what’s going on with Russia and Ukraine” makes his election more important directly implies that Orbán’s refusal to support NATO’s response to the invasion makes him more valuable.)

Only once did Trump use an active-voice construction to identify Russia as the aggressor (“If the Election wasn’t Rigged … Russia would not have attacked Ukraine”). On every other occasion, he has relied on verbal contortions to mask its author.

Other Republican leaders have used direct language to describe the invasion. Mitch McConnell (“Putin’s initial aggression was just a small foretaste of what this thug had planned for Ukraine. Now we are watching his full brutality unfold”) and Kevin McCarthy (“Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is reckless and evil. The United States stands with the people of Ukraine and prays for their safety and resolve. Putin’s actions must be met with serious consequence”) have not felt the need to dance around Putin’s culpability.

Trump’s latest statement goes beyond this familiar passive voice and wonders openly why both countries have failed to settle their differences. “It doesn’t make sense that Russia and Ukraine aren’t sitting down and working out some kind of an agreement,” he muses, which would be true if you were starting from the premise that neither country intended to destroy the other. If you begin with the premise that Russia set out to subjugate its neighbor and Ukraine merely wishes to coexist peacefully, then the lack of diplomatic progress makes perfect sense.

Not long ago, Donald Trump tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” In a followup tweet he specifically referenced the “Second Amendment.” His deranged supporters apparently heard him loud and clear, because on Thursday they grabbed their assault rifles and stormed the Michigan state capitol building, under the guise of “protest.”

These people are domestic terrorists. The only reason they’re even still alive is that they’re white; otherwise law enforcement would have given them one warning and then shot them. Donald Trump is directly responsible for this domestic terrorist incident in Michigan. We’re all lucky that no one died in the incident. But in a month where Trump has already negligently gotten fifty-something thousand Americans murdered, that’s a small mercy.

For some reason, perhaps only because there was no body count, this Michigan domestic terrorist incident isn’t being clearly linked to Donald Trump’s tweet. As of yet there’s no mainstream media narrative demanding that he answer for the incident. Like the coward that he is, he won’t address it unless he’s forced to.

Trump is facing four charges in the election interference indictment:

  • Conspiracy to defraud the United States
  • Conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding
  • Obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding
  • Conspiracy against rights

Trump’s third arraignment: Here’s what we know

Is Trump running for president again?

Trump can still run for president in 2024 election.

Barbara McQuade, a criminal law expert at the University of Michigan, told USA TODAY that even if Trump were charged, convicted and sentenced to prison, he would still be able to run for president.

The three exclusive requirements to run for president are to be a natural-born citizen, to be at least 35 years old and to have been a resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years, according to the U.S. Constitution.

Trump told reporters in March that he “won’t even think about leaving” the 2024 race despite his legal troubles.

− Sudiksha Kochi

Donald Trump wants to move the trial – to West Virginia

Hours before his arraignment, Trump says he wants his Jan. 6 trial moved out of Democratic-dominated Washington, D.C., to more Republican-friendly territory, perhaps West Virginia.

“IMPOSSIBLE to get a fair trial in Washington, D.C., which is over 95% anti-Trump,” Trump said on his Truth Social account after suggesting West Virginia as an alternative.

It feels like a legal longshot, but venue will likely be one of many topics to be discussed in pre-trial motions and hearings.

In his post, Trump also said he he has “called for a Federal TAKEOVER in order to bring our Capital back to Greatness,” but didn’t explain what he meant.

Perhaps it was a reference to his 2024 presidential campaign.

-David Jackson

Trump arraignment time

The former president is expected in court at 4 p.m. Thursday.

In anticipation of his arrival, television production trucks and cameras continued to line the street Thursday morning outside the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse.Security increased overnight outside the courthouse and fences appeared around the perimeter of the building, as former President Donald Trump is expected to make his first appearance in the case related to his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 president election results.Journalists are currently being let into the courthouse as they attempt to gain access to a seat in the courtroom or into the overflow room for members of the media.— Miles J. Herszenhorn

Trump has no post-arraignment speech scheduled – yet

One thing that’s different, so far, about this third arraignment: Trump has no post-plea event scheduled, at least not yet.

After previous arraignments in different cases in April and June, Trump hosted rallies at his homes. The first was at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., the second at his summer home on the golf course at Bedminster, N.J.

After his June arraignment in Miami, Trump also made an unscheduled stop at a local Cuban restaurant to soak up support from some of his voters.

As of now, the schedule calls for Trump to simply return to Bedminster after his court appearance in Washington, D.C. – though it seems likely that he will get his message out in some form or fashion.-David Jackson

Donald Trump knows that his already-fading chances of winning in November will fall to zero if he can’t find some way to corruptly tilt things in his favor. He’s already gone as far as trying (and failing) to blackmail Ukraine into rigging the election for him, which tells you how desperate he is. Now he’s found another angle.

The unpredictability of the worsening coronavirus crisis means that it may not be safe to vote in-person in November. So naturally, Donald Trump and the GOP are trying to leave people with no choice but to vote in-person. Lower turnout generally gives an advantage to the worse candidate, and what better way to reduce turnout than to force people to risk dying of a horrible virus just to vote?

For this reason, the Democrats are trying to make sure the next coronavirus financial relief package includes a provision for nationwide mail-in voting. Considering Trump is already asking for another relief package, and he still hasn’t gotten around to distributing the funds from the first package, he has little leverage here. If he wants another relief bill, he’ll have to swallow mail-in voting. The thing is, if this happens, he’ll lose.

t’s why Trump has suddenly decided that he’s fanatically opposed to the idea of mail-in voting. Nevermind that some states already do this, and it makes things easier for everyone involved, with no voter fraud whatsoever. Facts don’t matter to Trump. Nor does it apparently matter to Trump that he’s voting by mail. Once the media exposed this, he went berserk about it:

What stands out here is that there is no functional difference between absentee voting and mail-in voting. They’re the same thing. Donald Trump is trying to argue that one thing is two different things. Even if he wanted to argue that absentee voting should only be for people who can’t travel home to vote, he could easily hop on Air Force One and vote in his home state, so his argument goes out the window – unless he wants to argue that it’s unsafe for him to travel during the coronavirus crisis, in which case his argument also goes out the window.

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