By Molly Crane-Newman, New York Daily News (TNS)
New Yorkers are nothing if not honest.
Prospective jurors summoned to the Trump Organization trial at the New York County Supreme Court in Manhattan didn’t hold back Tuesday when questioned on how they feel about the Former President Donald Trump.
“I think Mr. Trump has no morals. I think he thinks only of himself. I think he is a criminal. I think he’s done irreparable damage to this country, and that’s exactly why I think I can be impartial in this case,” potential panelist Henry Lewis told Trump’s company lawyers.
The West Village man reasoned that the case against the Trump Organization and Trump Payroll Corporation—and anything Trump himself is alleged to have done in connection—was “trivial” compared to what the the former president has done on a broader scale.
Another prospective juror called back for the second day of questioning said she grew up in Midtown and felt Trump’s companies were analogous with criminality, having known former employees who never got paid.
“In my mind,” said Martha Tenney, “I associate the company as being associated with fraud.”
Sara Pines, a journalist for NBC, told Trump’s lawyers that she would leave her reporter’s instinct at the courtroom door if chosen—until the case is over.
“Do you think you would ever report this story?” asked Susan Necheles, a lawyer for the Trump Organization.
“Yes, I might,” Pines said, adding, “After the case is over, and if it were permitted by the judge to talk about, then yes.”
The candid answers came before Judge Juan Merchan swore seven people to serve as jurors on the case.
A book editor selected for the panel said she wasn’t Trump’s biggest fan but didn’t believe that would stop her from judging the facts of the case with an open mind.
“I didn’t vote for him,” said the woman, “And I would have gone with some different Supreme Court justices, but I really do know that I can be fair and unbiased sitting in a courtroom listening to evidence and different witnesses from wherever they come from.”
Earlier Tuesday, Merchan denied a request from Trump’s lawyers to strike the first 18 people questioned in open court. The company lawyers argued the pool was tainted by one woman’s “yes” to a question asking whether bias against Trump would affect her impartiality.
Prosecutors say the Trump Organization and its sister payroll company—two of more than 500 corporate entities under the Trump business’s umbrella—disguised millions in taxable income for 15 years.
The companies have pleaded not guilty to a host of criminal tax fraud and conspiracy charges and face over $1 million in fines if convicted.
Allen Weisselberg, the longtime CFO of the Trump Organization accounts, has pleaded guilty to the tax fraud scheme and is expected to take the stand as the DA’s star witness.
Trump is not charged in the case, nor is he expected to attend the trial.
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