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Trump Hush Money Jurors Receive Chilling Warning from Legal Expert

Potential jurors are being kept anonymous for a reason.

Donald Trump smiles as he sits at a table with his hands folded
Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images

The jurors in Donald Trump’s hush money trial are anonymous, with their names only shared among the trial’s judge and prosecution and defense teams. But some legal experts are still concerned about their safety.

Former federal prosecutor Ankush Khardori warned Tuesday that the onslaught of available information about the forthcoming jury—which included a Washington Post reporter outing one potential juror’s profession and identifying the businesses where they work—might be too much to keep them safe during the first criminal trial of a former president in U.S. history.

“What’s going through the minds of these jurors right now?” prompted CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer.

“I have some thoughts about the jury’s position here,” replied Khardori. “First of all, I imagine it’s somewhat surreal, right? To be selected. I am wondering if some of them are a little unhappy with the amount of information that is being made public about them.”

But Khardori doesn’t blame the press for their role in amplifying the sensitive details. Instead, he blames the gatekeepers of the information, the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office and Judge Juan Merchan, for failing to safeguard it.

“Now, this is not the fault of the media. I wanna be very clear about this,” he continued. “Responsibility to guard all of the very specific information that we’re learning resides with the D.A.’s office and with the judge.”

“I’m a little surprised that we are learning all of this because I do not think this jury is gonna remain anonymous necessarily if they keep this up,” Khardori said.

“You’re worried about their safety?” asked Blitzer.

“Yeah, I’m worried about their safety,” Khardori said. “I mean, it’s up to them if they want to write a book after all this is said and done, but that’s their option. They shouldn’t be outed this way. They’re not supposed to be outed this way.”

There’s a reason that the potential jurists’ identities are supposed to be so carefully guarded. When Trump and 18 of his allies were indicted in Georgia, the people on the grand jury were kept anonymous. But when their names and other personal, identifying information about them began circulating on the internet, a wave of threats quickly crashed on top of them.

That prompted Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presided over E. Jean Carroll’s defamation trial against Trump, to take extraordinary measures to help the jurists maintain their anonymity, including keeping them not just anonymous but also partially sequestered.

“My advice to you is that you never disclose that you were on this jury,” Kaplan warned them after the trial ended in January.

Alina Habba Has a Mind-Boggling Defense for Trump Napping in Court

The former president is just a busy guy, OK?

Alina Habba speaks into microphones
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Why did Donald Trump fall asleep during his hush-money trial? His lawyer, Alina Habba, has quite the excuse: “He reads a lot.”

Trump has been dogged by reports that he has dozed off in court both days so far of his hush-money trial. Habba defended him in an interview on Newsmax Tuesday evening.

“I wasn’t there. I find that a remarkable story, at best. President Trump, he reads a lot,” she said. “He’s been sitting there, as he’s forced to, at the threat of going to jail if he’s not sitting there, for what I assume would be a very mundane day.

“Look, I wasn’t there, so I can’t comment on that,” Habba continued. ”I find that to be a ridiculous thought, though.”

Habba’s presence in court notwithstanding, what we know about Trump’s reading habits calls her words into question. When he was in the White House, memos and policy papers were kept to a single page, with plenty of graphics and maps to hold his attention, according to accounts from back then. His name was included multiple times in briefing documents so he wouldn’t lose interest while reading them.

In fact, even in his younger days, Trump didn’t seem to read much and was even caught in a lie when asked about his favorite book in a 1987 interview on CNN. The one thing he is credited with avidly reading? Clippings of print media.

“I call the president the two-minute man,” one source close to Trump told The Washington Post in 2017. “The president has patience for a half-page.”

Of course, Habba has always staunchly defended Trump to the press regardless of the latest reports, even comparing him to Nelson Mandela on Tuesday. She may need to brush up on her legal expertise, though, as she thinks Trump being legally required to attend every day of his criminal trial is a violation of “due process.”

Alan Dershowitz Invents a Wild New Constitutional Right Just for Trump

Apparently, “witness intimidation” is in the Constitution.

Alan Dershowitz purses his lips as he stands in front of the Capitol
Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

One of Donald Trump’s former attorneys advocated for the removal of the court-induced gag order on the GOP presidential nominee in his hush-money trial, arguing that it’s actually completely within Trump’s rights to intimidate witnesses and family members of court staff.

Appearing on Fox News on Tuesday, constitutional attorney Alan Dershowitz claimed that Trump shouldn’t be prevented from lobbing threats and insults at the adult film actress he allegedly paid off ahead of the 2016 election, or presiding Judge Juan Merchan’s  daughter, who runs a political campaign firm that has worked with Democrats.

“The gag order is unconstitutional,” Dershowitz said. “You cannot prevent a defendant from attacking the witnesses, from attacking the judge’s daughter if the judge’s daughter could be a basis for disqualification.”

Merchan, meanwhile, has already refused to recuse himself, arguing that his daughter’s work holds no bearing on his own—which is exactly what a judicial ethics commission concluded last year.

“There’s no agenda here,” Merchan told the Associated Press in March. “We want to follow the law. We want justice to be done.”

The partial gag order—which Trump and his current staff of lawyers have repeatedly condemned—formally forbids Trump from speaking publicly about courtroom staff, prosecutors, or any of their family members. Comments about jurors are also prohibited, as well as comments about witnesses, but wiggle room still exists within the order that allows Trump to attack Merchan, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, or anybody else, for that matter, including his political rivals.

Still, that hasn’t stopped Trump from violating the order. On Monday, the Manhattan district attorney’s office signaled that it is pursuing action to hold Trump in contempt of court for continuing to make veiled threats against participants in the case on his Truth Social account—including one post that was made after court had already begun for the day. The former president will have to appear for a contempt hearing on April 24 to determine whether his online language violated the order.

Trump Gets Accidentally, Hilariously Roasted During Hush-Money Trial

Juror selection took an unexpected turn for the former president.

Donald Trump looks down
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

During jury selection in a criminal trial, it’s important that prospective jurors be screened for any potential biases toward the defendant or prosecution. In Donald Trump’s hush-money trial, this meant the former president had to sit through the second day of proceedings listening to jokes and memes publicly posted on social media at his expense.

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Some jokes were dated, as even six-year-old social media posts were read out in court.

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It wasn’t all bad for the former president: Some jury candidates read Trump’s book The Art of the Deal, and one was even a fan of The Apprentice, Trump’s reality TV show.

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Prospective jurors in the hush-money case had to fill out a questionnaire that included questions about what kind of media they read and watch, and whether they’ve supported far-right groups such as the QAnon movement or the Proud Boys.

In March, Judge Juan Merchan ruled that identities of jurors in this case, for their own safety, should be kept completely secret from the public—but not Trump and his defense attorneys. It’s for good reason: The grand jury in Trump’s election interference case in Georgia were doxxed by far-right conspiracy theorists. The jury in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case against the former president were kept fully anonymous, and partially sequestered too.

It remains to be seen if Trump will be able to follow Merchan’s instructions and refrain from exposing any of the jurors in his first criminal trial. His many gag orders show that he has trouble keeping his mouth shut, and his supporters aren’t known for respecting the legal process, either.

What?! Alina Habba Compares Trump to Nelson Mandela

Habba said the former president was exercising his First Amendment right by potentially violating his hush-money gag order.

Alina Habba speaks into microphones
James Devaney/GC Images

What’s the difference between Donald Trump and Nelson Mandela? According to Trump’s attorney Alina Habba, not much.

On Tuesday, Habba claimed that repercussions for Trump—other than financial penalties—for repeatedly violating the gag order in his New York hush-money trial would put him in the same boat as the South African anti-apartheid activist.

The partial gag order forbids Trump from speaking publicly about courtroom staff, prosecutors, or any of their family members. Comments about jurors are also prohibited, as well as comments about witnesses, but wiggle room still exists within the order that allows Trump to attack Judge Juan Merchan, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, or anybody else, for that matter, including his political rivals.

And according to Bragg’s office, Trump may have already violated his gag order several times—including at least one instance in which he seemingly disparaged adult film actress Stormy Daniels on Truth Social while in court.

Despite that, Habba insisted on Fox News that Trump hasn’t been anything other than “respectful” in his ongoing commentary of the trial.

“Do you think that this threat of 30 days in jail will change the social media actions of the former president in any way? Or will he keep doing this?” asked host Martha MacCallum.

“I don’t think so. I think that he is respectful, but there has to be boundaries, and we should appeal it. It’s currently on appeal. So, there’s also a due process element to this. We have items on appeal in this case that have not yet been heard,” Habba responded before being cut off by MacCallum with a clarifying question.

“Is he concerned about the possibility of it being sent to jail as a ramification?” the anchor probed.

“No,” Habba said. “I think like anybody, he’s concerned about going to jail. But if they put him in jail for his First Amendment right, he will be like Nelson Mandela. I mean, that would be just absurd.”

In the same interview, Habba apparently confused conspiracy for reality, accusing Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of rigging the trial by bringing the case in Manhattan—even though that’s his jurisdiction.

“I think that we’re seeing a painful, unfortunately, selection because we’re in the state of New York, which is definitely by design,” she said, referring to the jury pool. “There is no question that Bragg bringing this in New York … these venues are selected exactly for this reason, Martha, so that they have a blue state with a blue pool.”

Trump’s Big Mouth Just Got Him in Trouble in Hush-Money Trial

Judge Juan Merchan admonished the former president for muttering audibly in court.

Donald Trump speaks while sitting at a table with his hands folded
Justin Lane/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump was told off on just the second day of his hush-money trial by Judge Juan Merchan for speaking out loud in court.

Jury selection proceeded on Tuesday, and at one point, Trump tried to say something to one of the potential jurors.

“Your client was audibly saying something in her direction,” Merchan told the former president’s attorney, Todd Blanche, noting that Trump seemed to be speaking a juror about 12 feet away. “I won’t tolerate that. I will not have any juror intimated in this courtroom. I want to make that crystal clear.”

It wasn’t the first warning that Trump has received in the trial. In a court filing Tuesday morning, prosecutors asked Merchan to warn the former president to stop violating his gag order, with prison time as a penalty. Trump also is required to attend a contempt hearing next week over his alleged gag order violations.

Trump should be no stranger to gag orders, having been saddled with them during his civil fraud trial and his Washington, D.C., election interference trial. And yet, before day two of his trial began, Trump complained on Truth Social about the judge’s gag order, which forbids him from speaking publicly about courtroom staff, prosecutors, or any of their family members, calling it “unconstitutional” and “election interference.”

The former president can’t seem to stop talking himself into trouble. During his defamation case against E. Jean Carroll in January, Judge Lewis Kaplan nearly kicked Trump out of the courtroom for repeatedly making comments within earshot of the jury.

“Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to exclude you from the trial. I understand you are probably very eager for me to do that. Control yourself,” Kaplan said at the time.

But self-control is not the former president’s strong suit. Nearly every day, Trump has posted on his Truth Social account with some kind of rant or complaint, attacking enemies ranging from President Biden to Merchan’s daughter.

Did Trump Just Admit to His Hush-Money Trial Crimes?

The former president said he simply marked a payment down as a “legal expense.”

Donald Trump gestures with his hands as he speaks
Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s “bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all” philosophy may have just given his attorneys another headache.

The former president is on trial in New York for allegedly falsifying business records in order to conceal an affair with and subsequent hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, part of an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election.

And on Tuesday, Trump seemed to outright admit he had done so, insisting to reporters crowded outside the courthouse that he marked the expenditures to Daniels via his former fixer and attorney Michael Cohen as a “legal expense.”

“This was a trial that should have never been brought,” Trump said. “I was paying a lawyer and marked it down as a legal expense. Some accountant, I didn’t know, marked it down as a legal expense. That’s exactly what it was … and you get indicted over that? I should be, right now, in Pennsylvania and Florida and many other states—North Carolina, Georgia—campaigning. This is all coming from the Biden White House because the guy can’t put two sentences together.”

“So check it out. It’s called legal expense, that’s what you’re supposed to call it. No one has ever seen anything like it,” he added.

Unfortunately for Trump, payments to porn actresses made in exchange for their silence don’t usually qualify as legal expenses—especially when those payments amount to key details that could influence a voting populace’s choices ahead of a presidential election.

Trump faces 34 felony charges in the case for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime. He has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

The Shocking April Holiday That Mississippi Is Still Celebrating

Mississippi still marks Confederate Heritage Month every April.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

In the year of our lord 2024, the Confederate States of America are still being honored in Mississippi. 

Continuing a decades-old annual tradition, Governor Tate Reeves declared April as “Confederate Heritage Month,” the Beauvoir museum in Biloxi announced on Facebook Friday. The site is the historic home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. 

The tradition dates back to 1993 but isn’t publicized by any Mississippi state official or government agency. The only organization that regularly does so is the Sons of Confederate Veterans, or SCV, who first requested the proclamation 31 years ago.  The SCV owns and operates the Beauvoir museum, promoting the “Lost Cause” myth of the Civil War that downplays the role of slavery and white supremacy in causing the war.

Reeves’s record on race and Civil War history is checkered. As a student at Millsaps College in his youth, Reeves was part of a fraternity that threw Confederate-themed parties where members wore blackface. The governor says he never wore blackface while in the fraternity. 

In 2020, he signed a law retiring Mississippi’s state flag, which honored the Confederate flag, but criticized Black Lives Matter protesters at the same time. And Reeves has also denied the existence of systemic racism in the United States. 

Mississippi is the only state that has dedicated a month to honoring the Confederacy in the last three years, although six other Southern states have done so historically. Mississippi will also recognize Confederate Memorial Day on April 27, as state law requires. But those seeking to protest against these policies will have a tough time: The Supreme Court just effectively abolished protests in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

Wait Till You Hear What GOP Has to Say on Tom Cotton’s Latest Remarks

Spoiler alert: not much.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senator Tom Cotton is doubling down on his calls for mass violence against protesters, suggesting online that the proper way for fellow citizens to handle a group of people peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights is to physically assault them.

The alarming post came Tuesday, a day after the Arkansas Republican reacted to a group of activists that shut down traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge for five hours in protest of Israel’s war on Gaza, telling Fox News that the protesters would be thrown off the bridge if the demonstration had occurred in Arkansas.

“If something like this happened in Arkansas on a bridge there, let’s just say that there would be a lot of very wet criminals that would have been tossed overboard, not by law enforcement, but by the people whose road they are blocking,” Cotton said. “If they glued their hands to a car or pavement it would probably be pretty painful to have their skin ripped off, but I think that’s the way we’d handle it in Arkansas.”

“And I’d encourage most people, anywhere, that get stuck behind criminals like this that are trying to block traffic like this, to take matters into their own hands. There’s only usually a few of them, and there’s a lot of people being inconvenienced,” Cotton continued. “It’s time to put an end to this nonsense.”

And his fellow Republican lawmakers don’t seem bothered by that one bit—or at least not enough to condemn him for explicitly endorsing violence between citizens.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough called him out on that, recalling a time when such behavior was deemed unpatriotic and morally reprehensible within the conservative party.

“Because of Donald Trump there is no peer pressure anymore,” Scarborough—a former Republican legislator for Florida—said on Tuesday. “I will tell you, if a senator of either party or a member of Congress of either party said we need to throw people off the bridge, we need to rip the skin off their hands—at any time before Trump—that senator would be apologizing this morning. Now it won’t even leave a mark. He’ll probably raise more money off it.”

“They’re suggesting that violence is conservative,” the anchor continued. “It’s what Tom Cotton is saying, it’s what Donald Trump is saying, it’s what those people who use ‘violence rhetoric’ are suggesting. It’s not. It’s the opposite of being conservative.”

Comedy World Righteously Roasts Trump Over Gettysburg Gaffe

People can’t stop cracking up over the former president’s bizarre, bumbling speech.

Donald Trump speaks into a microphone
Hannah Beier/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Speaking outside Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Sunday, Donald Trump left everyone confused when he attempted to explain the Battle of Gettysburg, praised (and invented a quote from) Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and generally had no idea what he was talking about.

When his off-the-cuff remarks hit late-night television on Monday, the hosts couldn’t hide their laughter.

“You have to hand it to this guy: On the weekend before his unprecedented criminal trial begins, he somehow manages to overshadow it with this broken-brained interpretation of what happened at Gettysburg during the Civil War,” Jimmy Kimmel quipped.

“What a stirring orator. I look forward to Ken Burns’s updated documentary,” Stephen Colbert said.

“That is plagiarized almost directly from my seventh-grade book report, ‘Gettysburg: Wow,’” said Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

Donald Trump’s knowledge of history has long been suspect—we’re still not sure if he knows who Frederick Douglass is, for example. His remarks on Saturday aren’t even the first time that he’s made this bizarre recounting of the Battle of Gettysburg. Perhaps he should follow in Abraham Lincoln’s footsteps and pay a visit to the actual battlefield—though he clearly didn’t learn much from an October 2016 visit. But how much free time will he have before the election, since he has to be in a courtroom most of the time?