Prospective Jurors Are Dismissed in Dozens as Trump’s Trial Begins

After years of investigation and weeks of delay, the criminal case known as the People of the State of New York vs. Donald J. Trump went to trial Monday, with hundreds of citizens summoned to potentially join a jury that will decide the fate of the first American president to face prosecution.

But the ritual of choosing the jury got off to a slow start as more than half of the first group of 96 potential jurors raised their hands to say they could not be fair to Mr. Trump, demonstrating the challenges of picking an impartial panel in a city where the defendant is widely loathed. The judge immediately excused them.

One prospective juror, a woman in her 30s, was heard outside the courtroom saying, “I just couldn’t do it.”

The prospective jurors, who represented a cross-section of Manhattanites of various ages and demographics, filed past Mr. Trump and into the rows of a dingy courtroom. Some strained their necks for a glance at the former president. He stood and turned after the judge introduced him as the defendant, flashing them a tight-lipped smile.

The judge, Juan M. Merchan, welcomed the prospective jurors to his courtroom, and began to describe the case, which was brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office and accused Mr. Trump of falsifying records to cover up a sex scandal. He is facing 34 felony counts, and, if convicted, could face up to four years in prison.

The trial was born from a long-running investigation that began when Mr. Trump was still president. He was a target of Manhattan prosecutors in fits and starts over five years, spanning the terms of two district attorneys and multiple grand juries. Not until last March did the current district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, secure an indictment.

Who Are Key Players in the Trump Manhattan Criminal Trial?

The first criminal trial of former President Donald J. Trump began Monday. Take a closer look at central figures related to the case.

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