The Trump jury selection continues in chaos while Republicans squabble on Capitol Hill

Former President Donald Trump sits in court on 18 April 2024 as his hush money trial progresses through jury selection. (Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump sits in court on 18 April 2024 as his hush money trial progresses through jury selection. (Getty Images)

The hush money trial of former president Donald Trump experienced a hiccup on Thursday as it became clear that the public hunt for details and in some cases the identity of jurors was becoming an issue.

Judge Juan Merchan excused one woman who told the court that members of her family and close friends — having seen people searching for her identity online — had questioned her directly about being a member of the jury.

"I definitely have concerns now, one of them especially being that aspects of my identity have already been out there in public," she told the judge before her dismissal. She added that it made it unlikely that she could be an unbiased juror in the case.

Later on Thursday, the judge dismissed a second juror for an unrelated reason, but told attendees in the courtroom that the seated juror had “expressed annoyance about how much information about him had been out in the public”.

The judge lectured members of the media present on Thursday against including current or former employers in their reporting going forward, and added that such information would now be redacted from court transcripts.

“It kind of defeats the purpose of that, when so much information is put out there that it is very easy for anyone to identify who the jurors are,” Judge Merchan said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the fight over the former president’s gag order continues. Mr Trump is currently appealing the order, and continues to disparage the judge as biased in social media postings and campaign-related messaging. One text message sent by the ex-president’s 2024 campaign bemoaned how the court is “forcing” Mr Trump to miss his son Barron Trump’s high school graduation. Mr Trump also continues to attack others in the case, including his former “fixer” and attorney, Michael Cohen.

The hush money trial needs a total of 12 jurors and six alternates to proceed. That’s proving to be more and more difficult by the day.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Mr Trump’s closest allies are angrier than ever about the possibility of more US military assistance going to Ukraine, which makes up part of a supplemental national security package set to be passed over the coming weekend. Representatives Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert — the former being the leader of the rebellion that brought down former speaker Kevin McCarthy — indicated that they were warming to the idea of joining Marjorie Taylor Greene’s motion to vacate over the issue. Mr Gaetz admitted that doing so would throw the House into chaos during a press gaggle on Thursday, but that didn’t seem to deter him.

The real dustup on Thursday, however, was between Mr Gaetz and Derrick Van Ordern, an ally of Speaker Johnson’s, who dared Mr Gaetz to bring up the motion to vacate during a tense conversation on the House floor. That chaotic conversation ended in Mr Ordern calling his colleague from Florida “tubby” and storming off, according to multiple reports.

The inexperienced Speaker of the House continues to show no signs of a plan for reining in his party’s far-right wing as the Republican Party hurtles towards a Saturday showdown on Ukraine.