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Did a Trump juror leak info before verdict?

In Manhattan, Judge Juan Merchan continues to deliver surprises, though none are the sort that you'd want to find in your Christmas stocking. Yesterday he served up another one, sending a notification to Donald Trump's attorney Todd Blanche informing him that a comment had been submitted to the court's Facebook page prior to the verdict being rendered. The post claimed to be from someone who had a cousin on the jury who informed them that the verdict had already been decided and Trump was guilty. If true, this is highly disturbing, of course, but it's unclear what impact (if any) it could have on the proceedings. It would also be good to know how it is that Merchan didn't inform the defense team of this until long after the fact. 

From the NY Post:

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan revealed Friday that a Facebook user claiming to be a “cousin” of a juror in former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial suggested he had advanced knowledge of last week’s guilty verdict.

“Today, the Court became aware of a comment that was posted on the Unified Court System’s public Facebook page and which I now bring to your attention,” Merchan wrote in a letter to Trump attorney Todd Blanche and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

“In the comment, the user, ‘Michael Anderson,’ states: ‘My cousin is a juror and says Trump is getting convicted … Thank you folks for all your hard work!!! ….’” the judge explained.

The Facebook post in question was reportedly submitted by someone going by the name of Michael Anderson. But the reporter was unable to find any such post on the page. I suppose the poster could have thought better of it and retracted it himself or perhaps a moderator took it down. But it seems as if it almost certainly happened. Judge Merchan wouldn't have created such a firestorm over a rumor unless he fell for a massive hoax.

Even if the post was real, how are we to prove that the person didn't simply make the story up? We're not supposed to know or reveal the names of the jurors unless they choose to speak out publicly. But the court has all of their names. They could check to see if any of them really do have a cousin named Michael Anderson, which is unfortunately a very common name. 

And what if they do find such a match? Unless the juror is willing to confess to blabbing about the trial to their relatives, it doesn't seem as if there would be much to be done in terms of corrective action. Also, it is against the rules for jurors to discuss the trial with others before it has ended, but it's apparently not technically a law. In other words, you're definitely told not to do it but nobody is going to arrest you if you do.

That brings us back to what this news might mean for Donald Trump if the story is confirmed to be true. Unfortunately, the answer appears to be essentially nothing. Keep in mind that the time period when this communication between a juror and their cousin could have taken place would have been well after the prosecution and the defense had both rested and their closing arguments had been made. Their part in the trial was over. The judge read the jury his highly flawed instructions and they went to work. On the first day, they were still asking for witness transcripts and clarifications of the judge's instructions, so they almost certainly hadn't reached a verdict yet. But the jury finished up incredibly quickly. 

The communication would have needed to have taken place after they reached their 34 unanimous verdicts but before they were read out in the courtroom. How would the juror even be able to contact their cousin during that brief window? Weren't they still sequestered without their phones and devices at that point? Something about this story simply isn't adding up, but it adds another layer of rottenness to the disgraceful way that Judge Juan Merchan handled the entire case from the beginning. 

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