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Two jurors dismissed by judge in Trump criminal trial

Donald Trump was back in court as prosecutors and defence attorneys struggled to select a jury for the unprecedented criminal trial of a former US president.

It comes as the judge overseeing the trial dismissed two jurors today while lawyers attempt to assemble the panel of twelve jurors and six alternates.

Justice Juan Merchan excused one juror after prosecutors said he may not have disclosed prior brushes with the law.

Justice Merchan did not specify why he dismissed that juror.

He had previously excused a juror who said she felt intimidated because some personal information had been made public.

Donald Trump pictured with his attorney Todd Blanche in court on Tuesday

She said family, friends and colleagues had contacted her after deducing she was on the jury.

“I don’t believe at this point that I can be fair and unbiased, and let the outside influences not affect my decision-making in the courtroom,” the juror said.

The two removals mean that five people so far have been selected for the jury.

The decisions highlighted the extraordinary pressures around the first criminal trial ever of a former US president.

Mr Trump is one of the most controversial figures in American politics, and roughly half of the 192 potential jurors screened so far in heavily Democratic Manhattan have been dismissed after saying they could not impartially assess his guilt or innocence.

The Republican presidential candidate is accused of covering up a $130,000 (€122,000) payment his former lawyer Michael Cohen made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels for her silence before the 2016 election about a sexual encounter she said they had a decade earlier.

Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records and denies any such encounter with Ms Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Warned by judge

Mr Trump has been ordered by the judge to attend every day, forcing the scandal-tainted real estate tycoon to exchange the campaign trail for the unglamorous confines of a rundown courthouse.

The judge has made it clear he will tolerate none of Mr Trump’s habitual grandstanding, sternly warning him earlier this week when he began to mutter and gesture towards prospective jurors.

“I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom,” Justice Merchan said.

He has also warned Mr Trump against intimidating people connected to the case on social media.

The judge scheduled a hearing next week to consider whether Mr Trump should already be held in contempt for violating a partial gag order prohibiting him from attacking witnesses, jurors, court staff or their families.

After an empanelled juror was excused, Justice Merchan asked reporters covering the trial to stop providing a physical description of the potential jurors and not to identify their place of employment.

If convicted, the twice-impeached Mr Trump would potentially face prison, but legal observers have said fines would be more likely.

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