Trump lawyers, special counsel split over how much political thinking potential jurors should have to disclose

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WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump‘s lawyers and special counsel Jack Smith’s team are at odds over how much about their personal politics potential jurors have to disclose in a questionnaire for the classified documents case.

The two sides’ joint proposed jury questionnaire agreed to most questions but noted their disagreements on some questions — including those about political affiliations.

The defense proposed questions about whether a potential juror was registered to vote, registered with a political party and whether a potential juror voted in the 2020 election. The special counsel’s team objected to the questions in the Wednesday filing.

This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, shows boxes of records in a storage room at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., that were photographed on Nov. 12, 2021. Trump is facing 37 felony charges related to the mishandling of classified documents according to an indictment unsealed Friday, June 9, 2023.
This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, shows boxes of records in a storage room at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., that were photographed on Nov. 12, 2021.Justice Dept. via AP file

The special counsel proposed asking potential jurors whether they believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Trump’s team objected to the question.

Trump’s team is pushing to add a question about whether the potential juror views politicians in a negative light. The questionnaire also asks about views toward federal prosectors, law enforcement, criminal defense attorneys and judges.

The proposed questions could give lawyers insight into a potential juror’s political affiliation or bias, which can influence how the sides attempt to fill the jury. The trial, which centers around allegations of Trump improperly handling classified documents, is scheduled to begin on May 20.

The two sides disagreed over how to characterize the length of the trial to potential jurors. The special counsel said that the trial will last about four to six weeks, while Trump’s team is arguing for framing this as a longer trial, between eight and 10 weeks.

While a selection of the questions prompted disagreements, the two sides were in agreement on most of the 31-page questionnaire.

The special counsel and Trump’s team agreed to a question about whether a potential juror has displayed a bumper sticker or magnet on their car in the last five years. Car magnets are often used to show support for a politician or issue.

The parties also agreed to questions asking potential jurors to name three people whom they admire the most and least, with explanations.

Trump’s defense and the special counsel’s team agreed to the question, “What are your main sources of news and commentary?” However, the special counsel would like potential jurors to check all sources that apply, and Trump’s team wants potential jurors to rank sources that apply. The news outlets jurors can select include local and national outlets and outlets across the political spectrum.

Later in the questionnaire, Smith’s team entered a question asking potential jurors to “describe the amount of media coverage you have seen or heard about this case.” Trump’s team objected to the language.

On Thursday, Smith’s and Trump’s legal teams proposed new trial dates for the classified documents case, which is set for May. Trump’s lawyers proposed an August start date, while Smith’s team suggested having the trial begin in July.

The former president was indicted last June on charges related to alleged mishandling of classified documents. In July, he was hit with additional charges, which alleged that Trump was part of a scheme to obstruct the investigation. Trump and his two co-defendants pleaded not guilty.

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