(Bloomberg)—Prosecutors in the criminal tax fraud trial of the Trump Organization stressed to prospective jurors that it isn’t about the former president.
“This case is about the companies of Donald Trump, not about the man himself,” prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told a group of 18 potential jurors in New York state court on Tuesday as jury selection for the Manhattan trial continued.
“Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, or not in the room -- Donald Trump is not sitting there,” Steinglass said, indicating the defense table. “That’s because he has not been charged with a crime. We don’t have to prove anything at all about whether he knew anything about this.”
Steinglass then put it to them directly.
“Can you promise us that we don’t have to prove that Donald Trump himself knew about this?”
Prosecutors with the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and defense lawyers are questioning the potential jurors from a pool of about 60 to get to a jury of 12 and six alternates.
The questioning comes a day after jury selection began, when prospective jurors were excused by the dozen after the judge read out a list of people who might be called as witnesses or simply be mentioned during the trial. The list included Trump, his two older sons and his daughter Ivanka, among many others.
The DA’s office will try to show at trial that the firm routinely understated its tax exposure by paying senior executives with perks like company cars and rent-free apartments. The only defendants are two units of the Trump Organization.
Trump has described the prosecution as “the greatest witch hunt in American history.”
--With assistance from Patricia Hurtado.
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