Jurors in Trump's hush money criminal trial to be anonymous

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The jury in former President Donald Trump’s upcoming hush money criminal trial in New York will remain anonymous to the public, although their names will be revealed to Trump and his legal team.

A judge overseeing the trial, the first-ever criminal trial of a U.S. president, issued a protective order on Thursday after a request from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office headed by Alvin Bragg.

Manhattan Judge Juan Manuel Merchan ruled Thursday to keep the jurors and prospective jurors' names anonymous in the trial, which is scheduled to start on March 25 with jury selection.

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The judge's order stated that Trump has "an extensive history of publicly and repeatedly attacking trial jurors and grand jurors" and that "there is a likelihood of bribery, jury tampering, or of physical injury or harassment of juror(s)".

Trump is accused in the hush money case of falsifying internal records kept by his company to hide the nature of payments to his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who paid porn actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 as part of an effort during Trump’s 2016 campaign to bury claims he’d had extramarital sexual encounters.

Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, is charged in New York with 34 counts of falsifying business records, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison, though there is no guarantee that a conviction would result in jail time. Barring a last-minute delay, it will be the first of his four criminal cases to go to trial.

Trump has denied the charges, describing the case as a political witch hunt. He has also denied any affair with Daniels.

Only Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors will be allowed to know the addresses of the jurors’ homes and workplaces, Merchan said. 

It stops short of having a fully anonymous jury, as was the case in both of Trump’s recent federal civil trials involving the writer E. Jean Carroll. 

In those trials, not even Trump nor his lawyers knew the jurors’ names.

Prosecutors last week called for the names of the jurors and prospective jurors to be withheld, citing Trump’s "extensive history of attacking jurors in other proceedings." 

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Trump’s lawyers said they agreed with keeping jurors’ names from the public, but for different reasons. They cited what they called "extremely prejudicial pretrial media attention associated with this case" and disputed the prosecution’s characterization of his previous comments about jurors.

Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York opted out of charging Trump related to the Stormy Daniels payment in 2019, even as Cohen implicated him as part of his plea deal. The Federal Election Commission also tossed its investigation into the matter in 2021.

The payments to Daniels were first revealed in January 2018 in a Wall Street Journal report that said Cohen and Daniels’ lawyer negotiated a nondisclosure agreement to prevent her from publicly discussing the supposed sexual encounter with Trump.

But in March 2018, Daniels changed her story. During an interview with CBS News’ "60 Minutes," Daniels claimed she had a one-time, unprotected sexual encounter with Trump.

At the time, Trump said he was not aware of the payment made to Daniels.

When asked in April 2018 why Cohen made the payment, Trump responded: "You have to ask Michael Cohen — Michael’s my attorney."

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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