Dozens of potential jurors have been disqualified from serving in Donald Trump's criminal trial in New York due to impartiality concerns. Trump faces charges of falsifying business records to conceal a payment to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. Sixty out of 96 potential jurors expressed their inability to remain impartial on the first day of proceedings. The challenge of finding impartial jurors for such a high-profile case involving a former president facing a sex scandal was evident from the outset. Jury selection, expected to last up to two weeks, began with rigorous questioning about news habits and opinions on Trump. Despite objections from Trump's team, some jurors were dismissed after admitting biases. The trial's high profile necessitates anonymity for jurors, known only to legal teams.

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Throughout the day, the defendant remained quiet, conferring with his legal team in subdued tones while maintaining a serious demeanor. Despite rumors suggesting otherwise, his representatives vehemently denied claims that he had struggled to stay awake or had fallen asleep during the proceedings, dismissing them as "100% fake news." Donald Trump uttered only three words to New York Justice Juan Merchan, responding with "yes" to inquiries about courtroom decorum. However, outside the courtroom, Trump denounced the trial as "nonsense" and an "assault on America."

His public comments became a focal point of debate during the morning session, with prosecutors contending that some of Trump's posts on his social media platform, Truth Social, violated a gag order imposed by Justice Merchan. This order prohibits Trump from publicly discussing individuals connected to the case, including potential witnesses, and was extended to include relatives of those involved after Trump targeted Justice Merchan's daughter on social media. The Manhattan District Attorney's Office urged Justice Merchan to levy a $3,000 fine against Trump for three posts, including one in which he disparaged his former attorney and future trial witness, Michael Cohen.

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The judge scheduled a hearing for April 24 to address the matter. Additionally, the morning session saw discussions regarding the admissibility of evidence. Both the defense and prosecution disputed the inclusion of leaked audio from a 2016 recording of the NBC show Access Hollywood, in which Trump made lewd comments about women. Prosecutors sought to introduce an email exchange between Trump campaign officials and a Washington Post reporter, containing a transcript of the tape. While the judge declined to allow the audio to be played for jurors, he permitted prosecutors to reference Trump's statements from the tape.

Throughout the day, Mr. Trump was greeted by the cheers of dozens of supporters who gathered outside the courthouse, rallying in a peaceful yet spirited manner. Among them was a man who serenaded the crowd with renditions of The Star-Spangled Banner on the flute for hours, accompanied by a Trump impersonator sporting a blond wig and red tie.

However, not all present were supportive of the former president. One individual held a banner bearing the plea: "Convict Trump already."

The hush-money trial constitutes just one of four criminal cases looming over the former president. Yet, it could be the sole case to proceed to trial before the anticipated 2024 presidential election, which many speculate will be a rematch between Mr. Trump, representing the Republican Party, and the incumbent, Democrat Joe Biden.

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A conviction would mark Mr. Trump as the first major-party nominee to pursue the presidency as a convicted felon, although there is no legal barrier preventing him from doing so.

Justice Merchan rebuffed a defense request for Mr. Trump's absence from the trial next Thursday, as he sought to attend Supreme Court arguments regarding immunity claims in another criminal case. "Arguing before the Supreme Court is a significant matter," Justice Merchan acknowledged, "but a trial in New York Supreme Court... is equally significant. I expect him here next week."