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GOP rep makes curious ‘plea’ to prospective jurors in Trump case

Rep. Byron Donalds hasn’t yet seen the prosecutors’ case against Donald Trump. The GOP congressman is pleading with jurors to find him not guilty anyway.


While criminal trials often have dramatic moments, the process of selecting a jury isn’t exactly riveting. An NBC News report on the first day of Donald Trump’s criminal trial noted, “The quest to find a jury of 12 people and six alternates got off to a slow start Monday, as more than half of the 96 potential jurors summoned to the Manhattan courtroom said they couldn’t be ‘fair and impartial’" when it comes to the former president.

But as the day got underway in New York, one of the presumptive GOP nominee’s congressional allies appeared on national television and suggested that prospective jurors shouldn’t be overly concerned with impartiality. They should instead, the lawmaker said, simply rule in Trump’s favor. As a New Republic report summarized:

The Republican Party is all in on Donald Trump, so much so that at least one representative is trying to sway his legal proceedings. Ahead of the start of the Republican presidential pick’s first criminal trial on Monday, Representative Byron Donalds pleaded with the people of Manhattan to give his party leader a break.

During an appearance on Newsmax, the Florida congressman delivered a message I’ve never heard a member of Congress present to the public.

“My plea is to the people of Manhattan that may sit on this trial: Please do the right thing for this country,” Donalds said. “Everybody’s allowed to have their political viewpoints, but the law is supposed to be blind and no respecter of persons. This is a trash case; there is no crime here; and if there is any potential for a verdict, they should vote not guilty.”

Just so we’re all clear, Donalds hasn’t seen the prosecutors’ case. Prospective members of the jury haven’t seen the prosecutors’ case, either, since the trial probably won’t reach that phase until May. The congressman has nevertheless concluded that what jurors will see, hear, and learn over the course of the upcoming trial doesn’t much matter because, according to Donalds, Trump didn’t commit a crime — the grand jury’s findings notwithstanding.

As it turns out, the Florida Republican wasn’t the only one trying to lobby prospective jurors from afar. A conservative media personality named Clay Travis pushed a similar message online, on his radio program, and on Fox News, urging Trump supporters to “do everything” possible to serve on the jury in the hopes of “dooming the case.”

Keep in mind, jurors raise their right hand and take an oath, which they’re supposed to take seriously, vowing to be impartial. Evidently, some of Trump’s allies like the idea of these New Yorkers ignoring their responsibilities in order to advance the former president’s political interests, regardless of the evidence against him.

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California suggested such public lobbying might constitute “jury tampering,” which in turn makes me wonder whether we’ve heard the last of this story.