Judge accuses Trump of intimidating jurors, salivating media reports ‘he looked at his phone’

A jury selection scolding and some readily-mocked, breathless, play-by-play coverage marked day two of former President Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial.

Expectation became reality in the Manhattan courtroom Tuesday as the expressed biases of the heavily Democratic-leaning Big Apple came to the fore during jury selection. However, it was Trump’s reaction to one candidate that prompted Judge Juan Merchan to lay down the law on alleged intimidation.

During CNN’s wall-to-wall coverage, which included interviews with dismissed potential jurors outside the courthouse, CNN chief legal analyst Laura Coates and correspondent Kara Scannell discussed what happened after one woman was questioned over a Facebook post that appeared to be a “celebration” of the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

After the president’s attorneys argued the juror “went to an anti-Trump rally,” to which she argued she had merely caught the moment on camera, Scannell reported that Merchan had said the juror, “looked me in the eye and said that she could be impartial, so we refuse to excuse her for cause.”

This, she said, garnered a “reaction from Trump as the juror was leaving, he could be heard audibly saying something and gesturing in the direction of the juror leaving the room, that prompted the judge to raise his voice.”

“Your client was audibly uttering something…I won’t tolerate that. I will not have any jurors intimated [sic] in this courtroom. I want to make that crystal clear,” Merchan was quoted as saying by Politico reporter Erica Orden.

Commenting on how attorney Todd Blanche was warned his client, “cannot do that, cannot disrupt this proceeding,” Coates came to her own conclusion and said of Trump, “It seemed as though his patience for being able to be quiet in that courtroom is waning thin.”

The prosecution had already introduced a motion for contempt against the president Tuesday over social media posts they argued violated the gag order issued by Merchan, but it was another public commentary that was called into question as MSNBC contributor Adam Klasfeld highlighted some of the jurors’ online activity.

“The juror in seat No. 2 will be excused after Trump’s lawyers discovered this post on social media: ‘Good news!! Trump lost his battle on his unlawful travel ban!!! Get him out, and lock him up,'” he posted to X before indicating, “[Assistant District Attorney] Steinglass says that Team Trump’s tactic of trolling potential jurors’ social media accounts is a ‘conceptual problem.’ Justice Merchan seems to agree, as Trump’s third challenge is about an eight-year-old post by the juror’s husband.”

According to the Daily Mail, the posts in question included “a meme of a character from ‘The Simpsons’ holding Trump’s head with a picture of Barack Obama in the frame,” and the caption, “I don’t think this is what they meant with orange is the new black,” as well as a meme with the caption, “The Avengers Unite against Donald Trump…and to get Mark Ruffalo naked.”

Another juror was dismissed after he was called out over a video about Trump titled “Dumb as f***,” but for the memes, Klasfeld indicated, “If an eight-year-old post by the juror’s husband is the most disqualifying Trump’s legal team can find, Merchan adds, that would reinforce the view that she is qualified.”

Corporate media’s edge-of-their-seat coverage of Trump’s every move in the courtroom also included a prime example of sensationalism as The Hill offered the breaking tidbit, “Trump just looked at something on a cell phone, before handing it to his attorney during his hush money trial.”

Social media snark over the factoid didn’t disappoint over the self-contained snippet and even The Babylon Bee’s non-satirical arm ‘Not the Bee’ was left admitting, “I can’t believe this is a real headline. The Bee can’t compete with this. It’s gold.”

Kevin Haggerty

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