Trump hush money jurors will be asked about QAnon, not political affiliation

(The Hill) - Prospective jurors in former President Trump's hush money trial can expect to be asked about QAnon and Antifa — but not their political party affiliation.

The New York judge overseeing Trump's criminal trial has approved a questionnaire for jury selection, which is expected to get underway next week at the start of the trial.

Judge Juan Merchan released a list Monday of 42 questions spanning strong support or distaste for Trump to affiliation with extremist groups or ideologies.

Extremist groups listed include the right-wing Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and Boogaloo Boys, plus the left-wing anti-fascist movement Antifa. QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory and political movement claiming a shadowy cabal of Democrats pull all the strings of American politics, also earned a mention.

The questions steer clear of asking potential jurors whether they've voted, donated or align with Democrats or Republicans.

"Contrary to defense counsel's arguments, the purpose of jury selection is not to determine whether a prospective juror does or does not like one of the parties," Merchan wrote in a letter accompanying the questionnaire. "Such questions are irrelevant because they do not go to the issue of the prospective juror's qualifications."

"The ultimate issue is whether the prospective juror can assure us that they will set aside any personal feelings or biases and render a decision that is based on the evidence and the law," he added.

Other questions examine where jurors get their news, if they have worked for a Trump-led business or organization and if they've attended rallies or protests in favor or against the former president.

Another question asks if the panelists have consumed podcasts by Trump's ex-fixer Michael Cohen, who is expected to be a key witness in the trial, or Mark Pomerantz, a former special assistant district attorney on the case who resigned after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg originally declined to pursue charges against the former president.

The jurors will also be asked if they have any strong opinions regarding whether ex-presidents can be criminally charged in state court, and if they harbor any opinions about how Trump is being treated in the case.

If the case proceeds to trial next week, it will be Trump's first criminal trial and the first criminal trial of any former U.S. president.

He currently faces 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment Cohen made to an adult film actress to cover up an alleged affair ahead of the 2016 election. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

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