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Can Donald Trump Get a Mistrial After Judge Merchan Letter?

Donald Trump’s supporters have pointed to the possibility of a mistrial in his criminal hush money case after the Manhattan court flagged a social media post alleging that a juror discussed the former president’s verdict outside of the courthouse.

However, legal analysts told Newsweek on Saturday to not jump the gun.

On May 30, Trump was found guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush money paid to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election. Daniels alleges she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, which he denies. The ex-president has maintained his innocence, claiming the case was politically motivated against him. His legal team intends to appeal the verdict.

In a letter on Friday, Judge Juan Merchan, who oversaw Trump’s trial, informed the prosecution and defense that a comment was left on the New York State Unified Court System’s Facebook page by a user claiming to be a juror’s cousin. The commenter said that their relative “says Trump is getting convicted,” adding, “Thank you folks for all your hard work!!!!”

The comment made by a user under the name “Michael Anderson” was left under a Facebook post made by the court on May 29. Merchan did not specify which day the comment was made but said in his letter that it was “labeled as one week old.”

Conservative activist Laura Loomer said on X on Friday that the Facebook comment “means [Trump] could now be entitled to a mistrial because the jury pool was tainted and compromised,” adding “This is further evidence that President Trump didn’t receive a fair trial!”

Charlie Kirk, founder of the conservative group Turning Point USA, noted on X on Friday, that “nothing has been proven yet. But if this is true, and a juror was revealing to others that they planned to convict during deliberations, that is juror misconduct and grounds for a mistrial. Fascinating turn of events!”

Trump himself posted on his social media platform TruthSocial twice on Saturday, “MISTRIAL!”

Rsquare Media emailed Trump’s spokesperson, Steven Cheung, who referred to the former president’s TruthSocial post. Newsweek also emailed Trump’s lead lawyer in the hush money case, Todd Blanche, for comment.

Legal analysts said the flagged Facebook post can’t be taken at face value.

“It is far too early to judge the merits of this allegation,” Jonathan Turley, a lawyer who has been critical of the prosecution of the case against Trump, told Newsweek via email on Saturday. “With the armies of trolls on the Internet, there should not be an assumption of veracity or accuracy until there is confirmation of this source.”

Lawyer Alan Dershowitz, echoed Turley in an emailed statement to Newsweek on Saturday, stating, “An investigation is warranted to determine authenticity and facts.”

“There is no chance of a mistrial because this post has been debunked as the work of a self-admitted online troll who likes to pull stunts like this for attention. It is not real and will not affect the guilty verdict in this case,” Dave Aronberg, the Democratic state attorney for Florida’s Palm Beach County, told Newsweek via email on Saturday. While the profile has raised some eyebrows online, it yet to be debunked by the court.

Cheryl Bader, a clinical associate professor of law at Fordham University, said in an email to Newsweek on Saturday, “Judge Merchan is sharing the letter at this point out of an abundance of caution for transparency. Before this post can have any significance for the verdict, there would need to be verification that it was posted prior to the verdict, and that the person posting does have a relationship with a juror and discussed the case with the juror prior to the verdict.”

Bader continued: “Juror misconduct can be grounds to overturn a conviction, but we can’t assume juror misconduct from this letter alone. If their is actual evidence that the person who posted the message discussed the case with a juror during the course of the trial, the judge would likely hold a hearing on whether there was juror misconduct and whether that conduct improperly influenced the verdict requiring a mistrial.

“Even if someone claims a juror spoke to them about the case, the defense would likely not be successful in meeting their burden for a mistrial without hearing from the juror themself or other concrete evidence of jury tampering.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Weissmann, legal analyst for MSNBC and former U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor, wrote on X, “This happens in every high-profile case I’ve seen.”

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