WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Jury selection in the trial of President Donald Trump’s adviser Roger Stone will resume on Wednesday, in a case stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe that detailed Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
FILE PHOTO: Roger Stone, former campaign adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives for the start of his criminal trial on charges of lying to Congress, obstructing justice and witness tampering at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., November 5, 2019. REUTERS/ Tom Brenner/File Photo
The trial got off to a slow start on Tuesday, as an ill-looking Stone got permission to leave court early due to food poisoning and proceedings were temporarily paused after an audience member suffered from a medical emergency and was taken away by paramedics.
By the end of the day on Tuesday, the pool of jurors had been narrowed down from 82 to 34 people. A total of 14 people – 12 jurors and two alternates- will be impaneled on Wednesday morning, according to media reports.
Opening statements could come as soon as the afternoon.
The charges against Stone stem from Mueller’s investigation, although the case is now being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
The 67-year-old veteran Republican political operative – a self-described “dirty trickster” and “agent provocateur”” – has pleaded not guilty to charges of obstructing justice, witness tampering and lying to the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.
Many of the jurors who were questioned by the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers during the selection process on Tuesday expressed dislike for Trump – which was not surprising given that more than 90 percent of Washington, D.C.’s voters cast their ballots for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Early on during the proceedings, Stone’s attorneys had sought to strike out any jurors who harbored negative views toward the president or worked for the federal government.
However, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said negative views on the president or working for the government could not be used to justify striking jurors unless they felt those views might taint their ability to review the evidence fairly and impartially.
Mueller concluded his investigation in March.
The probe documented Russian efforts to boost Trump’s candidacy and led to criminal charges against several Trump advisers and campaign aides. Stone and Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign adviser and a former business partner of Stone, were the only two from this group not to plead guilty.
Manafort was convicted by a Virginia jury last year.
Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan