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Jury selection underway in history-making trial of former President Trump

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Jury selection began Monday in the history-making criminal trial of former President Donald Trump.

Trump played multiple roles as he watched the proceedings unfold in a Manhattan court. In the courtroom, he was the defendant who smiled for jurors. On his social media platform, Trump was in campaign mode, making sure supporters could donate to his cause as he seeks to win back the White House from President Joe Biden. And outside the courtroom, he was consistent in his claims that the charges he faces are politically motivated.

Trump, 77, started his first of potentially four criminal trials on Monday in New York with defiance.

“This is an assault on America,” Trump told reporters before court began Monday morning. “Nothing like this has ever happened before. There’s never been anything like it. Every legal scholar said this case is nonsense, it should never have been brought.”

Trump pleaded not guilty in April 2023 to 34 felony counts related to charges he paid off Stormy Daniels through a lawyer before the 2016 presidential election and covered it up as a legal expense before being elected president.

Trump faces 88 felony charges spread across four cases in Florida, Georgia, New York and Washington.

“This is political persecution,” Trump said. “This is a persecution like never before. Nobody’s ever seen anything like it.”

He posted a bright red “WITCH HUNT” banner on his Truth Social site Monday morning, urging supporters to text in their donations.

Monday’s proceedings began with prosecutors seeking to fine Trump for allegedly violating a gag order put in place by Judge Juan Merchan. The judge later said he would schedule a hearing on Trump’s alleged gag order violations for April 23, according to Reuters.

The first 96 New York residents who make up the jury pool were sworn in just after 2 p.m. More than half were dismissed after they said they could not be fair and impartial. A handful of others said they could not serve for reasons that were not disclosed. Others were excused based on their answers to a questionnaire with 42 questions, according to CBS news.

The jury selection process could take a week or longer depending on how things go in the coming days.