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Lawyers select 12 jurors to serve in Trump hush-money case

LAWYERS in Donald Trump’s historic criminal trial selected 12 jurors who will assess his guilt or innocence over the coming weeks in a case stemming from a hush-money payment to a porn star.

Lawyers for the defense and the prosecution still must select alternate jurors for the trial, the first ever in which a former U.S. president is the defendant.

Opening statements could take place on Monday, said Justice Juan Merchan, the judge overseeing the trial.

Earlier in the day, Merchan dismissed a juror who said she felt intimidated that some personal information was made public.

The judge also excused another juror after prosecutors said he may not have disclosed prior brushes with the law.

Trump’s outsized public presence created unique problems during the jury selection process, which started on Monday.

Roughly half of the first 196 jurors screened in heavily Democratic Manhattan were dismissed after saying they could not assess the evidence impartially.

The Republican politician’s criticism of witnesses, prosecutors, the judge and their relatives in this case and others has also sparked concerns about harassment, prompting Merchan to impose a partial gag order.

Merchan dismissed the juror who said she felt intimidated after family, friends and colleagues had deduced that she had been selected for the trial.

“I don’t believe at this point that I can be fair and unbiased, and let the outside influences not affect my decision-making in the courtroom,” the juror said.

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Trump, the Republican presidential candidate in the November 5 election, also faces criminal cases in Washington, Georgia and Florida, but the New York case is the only one certain to go to trial this year. Officials involved in those cases have reported receiving death threats and harassment after being criticized by Trump.

By JACK QUEEN and LUC COHEN

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