‘Won’t tolerate that’: Moment New York judge scolds Donald Trump in court

Former US President Donald Trump has been reprimanded by the judge in his hush money case for intimidating a potential juror.

“Your client was audibly uttering something,” Justice Juan Merchan said to Mr Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche on Tuesday, US time.

“I won’t tolerate that. I won’t have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom,” he added.

But Mr Trump was all smiles when another juror told the court he’d read several of the books the ex-President had published.

Tuesday was the second day of Mr Trump’s New York trial where he is accused of falsifying business records in a scheme to cover up an alleged extramarital sexual encounter with adult film actor Stormy Daniels to shield his 2016 election campaign from a last-minute upheaval.

The trial is expected to last at least six weeks. Mr Trump has to attend every day the trial takes place.

Before he arrived at the court in Lower Manhattan, Mr Trump once again took to his social media platform to talk about the case.

Justice Merchan has put a gag order in place preventing Mr Trump from publicly criticising, outside of court, any witnesses, court employees, jurors and their families as it could interfere with the case

The judge excluded himself from the list of people Mr Trump couldn’t criticise. And Mr Trump duly railed at him online.

“This conflicted, Trump hating judge won’t let me respond to people that are on TV lying and spewing hate all day long,” the former President wrote.

“I want to speak, or at least be able to respond. Election Interference! Rigged! Unconstitutional trial! Take off the Gag Order!!!”

Prosecutors have said Mr Trump has already broken the terms of the gag order three times and should be fined.

When Mr Trump arrived a court he told reporters that he should be campaigning rather than having to attend a trial.

“I should be right now in Pennsylvania and Florida – in many other states, North Carolina, Georgia – campaigning,” he said.

Scores of jurors ruled out

The first order of business has been to find a group of jurors able and willing to serve on the case – but also deemed to have a fair opinion of the polarising politician.

There is a pool of 500 jurors, of which about 12 have to be agreed upon by both sides. Judge Merchan questioned a number of them in the courtroom.

Several were dismissed quickly. Work commitments was the main reason but one said, “it’s going to be tough for me to be impartial,” because he had Republican friends, while another was let go because they had a social media post which said “get him out, lock him up,” in reference to Mr Trump.

Another potential juror who was dismissed had a social media post which was an AI parody of Mr Trump saying “I’m dumb as f**k”.

Trump’s smiles

One prospective juror who made it through the initial round of questioning admitted to reading some of Mr Trump’s books, including the Art of the Deal.

According to the New York Post, upon hearing this, Mr Trump gave the man two slow nods and a wide smile broke across his face.

But the Manhattan man insisted it wouldn’t stop him being impartial.

“I feel no one is above the law,” he said.

‘Won’t tolerate that’

Things got less cheery for Mr Trump when Judge Merchan accused him of intimidating a potential juror.

The juror in question had said she had no bias against Mr Trump but his legal team said they had found some Facebook posts where she was celebrating on the day of the 2020 election which Joe Biden won.

She had been asked to clarify the nature of the posts which the defence’s legal team claimed were “anti-Trump”.

As this was taking place, the judge said to Mr Trump’s lawyer that his client looked to be “audibly uttering” something to the juror “who was 12 feet away”.

“I don’t know what he was uttering (but) I won’t tolerate that,” the judge said. “I won’t have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom. I will be crystal clear.”

At the end of day two, and with 96 potential jurors questioned, seven were chosen to attend the case.

Up to 12 people, along with some spare jurors, will be selected, over the coming days.

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