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Five teens injured in shooting at senior skip day gathering in Maryland park: Police

Douglas Sacha/Getty Images/STOCK

(GREENBELT, Md.) -- Five teenagers were injured after gunfire rang out at a large gathering of high school students taking part in a senior skip day in Maryland, police said.

Officers from several law enforcement agencies were responding to help control a crowd of 500 to 600 students who had gathered in Schrom Hills Park in Greenbelt Friday afternoon when they heard multiple shots ring out, according to Greenbelt Police Chief Richard Bowers.

Five male victims ranging between the ages of 16 and 18 were located with gunshot wounds, Bowers said. All five victims were transported to local hospitals.

Three victims were released from the hospital and the sole victim listed as critical has been upgraded to stable condition, Greenbelt Police said Saturday.

A suspect in the shooting is believed to have fled the park when the crowd dispersed following the gunfire and has not been located at this time, Bowers said. Police believe there was only one shooter, he said.

The police chief called the shooting a "horrible, tragic, senseless act."

"These were kids on senior skip day who were looking to have a good time in a local park, and to have something like this occur is just maddening," Bowers said.

The students had initially gathered in Bowie, Maryland, for senior skip day and were asked to disperse by local law enforcement, a Greenbelt Police Department spokesperson told ABC News. Many of those students then moved to Schrom Hills Park, where they participated in a large water gun fight prior to the shooting, police said.

Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan said the gathering was "informally organized" on social media.

"We don't condone skipping school, but it's the senior skip day," Bowers said. "It's just a tragedy."

Students from multiple high schools in the area are believed to have been at the park, the chief said.

A motive remains unclear.

The shooting remains under investigation. Bowers urged anyone with footage from the incident to reach out to police. Investigators will also be looking over body-worn camera footage, he said.

"We know that the person involved is definitely on a camera somewhere," Bowers said.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Parkland dad reflects on Harris tour of Stoneman Douglas site

ABC News

(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- Last month, Vice President Kamala Harris toured Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, site of a 2018 mass shooting, with families of the 17 victims of the massacre and vowed to do more to curb gun violence.

Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter Jaime in the shooting, was one of the parents who pushed for elected officials to take the tour and meet with the families about tackling gun violence.

He spoke with ABC News' Rachel Scott shortly after the visit.

ABC NEWS LIVE: I do want to start with you telling me about your push to get the vice president here. Where did that come from?

FRED GUTTENBERG: I guess about 10 months ago, when the building was turned over from the state attorney to the school district, one of the other dads, Max Schachter, had this idea of walking through political people to see what's happening in that building, or what happened in that building.

The blood is still there, the DNA is still there. The shards of glass are still there, the books and all the coursework, it's still out there on the desks as if the kids just went out for a fire drill. It's all still there. And we wanted to walk people through so that they could receive the lessons of why something like this happened. And a day of mass carnage, leading to 17 dead and 17 injured, but not only why it happened [but also] what kinds of things can we do to stop the next one.

And I reached out to the Office of Gun Violence Prevention folks, which are an amazing group of people, and the vice president's office, and I told them what we were doing. And I said, "I'd really like you all to come."

This was scheduled to be a three-hour day. She was here, not three hours, [but] almost five.

Because she wanted to know about those we lost. She wanted to know about the work that we're doing.

Today was an incredibly consequential, meaningful day.

ABC NEWS LIVE: You told me that this building is going to be demolished.

GUTTENBERG: Yeah.

ABC NEWS LIVE: And that this was sort of the final chapter.

GUTTENBERG: The final lesson.

ABC NEWS LIVE: The final lesson.

GUTTENBERG: Yeah.

The vice president can now go forward and talk specifically about what she saw in this building and relate it to what she needs to do [and] what we need to do as a country. Whether it's on gun safety policy, whether it's on school construction, any of those things. She saw it today. She can talk about it now.

ABC NEWS LIVE: What do you believe needs to be done? We know that the president signed the most comprehensive gun safety legislation into law in decades. But still, that did not go as far as the president and the vice president were hoping.

GUTTENBERG: I wish we could have gone further. And I hope people vote in the next election to ensure we get to go further. But it went, and it got a lot of things done. I'll give you this. I'll just tell you this, for the first time in months, the homicide rate related to gun violence, for the first time in years, is trending down. I was just at the FBI facility in West Virginia, where they conduct threat assessment and background checks last month. And they're doing the new enhanced under 21 background checks which are a part of that legislation. And they were talking about the abundance of young people now that they've been able to stop from getting a weapon because of that new enhanced under-21 background check.

Red flag laws save lives. Let me be clear, had a red flag law been in place in Florida before February 14, 2018, in all likelihood, this shooting never happens. Had a red flag law been in place before February 14, 2018, I'd be visiting my daughter at the University of Florida, not at a cemetery.

ABC NEWS LIVE: I do want to ask you about your daughter and just what we should know about her and how you have been able to cope with the loss of a daughter so young.

GUTTENBERG: My daughter will forever be the toughest person I ever knew. And if you saw the way she died on the third floor, running down the hallway for her life, because she got locked out of a room – knowing there was a shooter at her back with an AR-15. And she made it to within 1 second of her life, turning into the stairwell.

It does not surprise me that she was fighting for her life that way. She's the toughest person I've ever known. I get through every day because she stands on my shoulders pushing me forward. I get through every day because I know no matter how hard this fight is, I will never ever, ever have anything as hard as what she did running down that hallway.

I am her voice now. My daughter was 14 when she was killed. Forever 14. She should be 20 now.

And I have a dream now of ending gun violence in America and I'm dedicating my life to it.

ABC NEWS LIVE: You've been through that building. You've walked that hall. What was that like for you?

GUTTENBERG: When you walk through it, you see the blood of the victims still there. You see DNA of the victims. It's still there.

I sat in the spot where my daughter took her last breath. And for me, it's something I'll never ever get over, I'll never comprehend how it was possible. I'll never forgive those who failed to deal with the reality of gun violence, because we were listening to too many of the wrong people. And I will do everything I can to ensure we fire every single elected person who continues to fail on this issue. All I want to do is stop the next one.

ABC NEWS LIVE: We are now in a critical election year. What do you want Americans to know heading into this election year?

GUTTENBERG: What I want America to know is there is only one president and vice presidential candidate – they're the ones running for re-election, President [Joe] Biden and Vice President Harris, who stand for doing something about gun violence

So here's what I want America to know. This is not an election to sit home. If you're any of the many people across this country who think I'm gonna stay home on my couch, I don't need to vote. Yes, you do. Let me be clear: If there's anybody in your life that you love, and because of that, you want to reduce gun violence, you know how to vote and you know you need to vote.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Survivors of Columbine shooting discuss struggles with PTSD, anxiety

ABC News

(LITTLETON, Colo.) -- When 12 students and one teacher were gunned down in a mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, the tragic event marked a turning point for America.

Twenty five years later, some survivors recall how they have dealt with the physical and mental impact of PTSD, anxiety and depression.

"It's a big part of my identity and who I am and not necessarily that day, but more who I've become," Heather Martin, a Columbine survivor, told ABC News Live. "And a large part of that is because of the aftermath overcoming."

America endured school shootings before Columbine, but never one quite like the April 20, 1999, shooting.

"We didn't have any context for a school shooting, couldn't name a school shooting," teacher Kiki Leyba a survivor, said.

According to an ABC News review of the Gun Violence Archive, a website that tracks all shootings in the United States, 415 people have been killed in school shootings since the Columbine attacks. As of April 2, 2024, 907 have been wounded.

The Columbine High School shooting was one of the first instances where authorities brought in psychological experts to help the survivors cope with PTSD.

It took 47 minutes for SWAT teams to enter the school after the shooting started. It took five hours for law enforcement to declare the school under control.

"What we learned over the time was, certainly back then, you know, it was surround, wait for SWAT," Grant Whitus, one of the first SWAT officers to run inside Columbine High School, said. "But later on, everybody was going in. So that's what we were teaching. You get in small group of people, we first started with four, you first four go immediately. Then it cut down to one- and two-man's response to the active shooter. But no matter what, the first person was through that door, engaging the shooter. At least, they may not be able to take him out, but he can't be off shooting people when he's in a firefight with the cops."

The survivors of that day say they have suffered from trauma for 25 years, and the tragedy still haunts them.

"That six weeks of therapy after it initially started, I received the insomnia diagnosis as well as the question of PTSD," Melissa Missy Mendo said. "Somebody had asked my mom, you know, 'Why did you feel that Melissa was going to be, or that Missy was going to be different?' And she said 'I knew this: It was going to be different because she was 14 years old, sleeping with her shoes on in between her parents every night for weeks.'"

As the years passed, the survivors of the shooting sought to connect with like-minded individuals who could understand their pain. In a snowball effect of grief and loss, the survivors of the Columbine shooting became the first modern iteration of mass shooting survivors. They found solace in their similarities in a group that only grew.

The Columbine group connected with other mass shooting survivors, such as survivors from the Aurora movie theater shooting in 2012 and the Washington Navy Yard shooting in 2013.

The group calls themselves The Rebels Project, a network of people who support one another across the country.

"I feel fortunate to have a large survivor network from The Rebels Project because there were other moms in there that had gone through it," Mendo said. "And they were like, when you start to talk to them about them, make sure that it's going to be age appropriate and make sure that it's situational. Because the story you want to give them at the beginning is going to be something that they can understand."

While the former students, now adults, are using unity to move forward, the teachers nearing retirement are handling their past experiences differently. Retired Columbine High School Principal Frank DeAngelis is embracing the lessons he learned from the tragic incident and using them to teach others.

He is a safety and emergency management adviser for the school district and travels the world, sharing his 25 years of experience.

"Every morning before my feet hit the ground, I recite the names of my beloved [students]: Cassie Bernell, Stephen Curnow, Corey DePooter, Kelly Fleming, Matt Kechter, Daniel Mauser, Danny Rohrbough, Dave Sanders, Rachel Scott, Isaiah Shoels, John Tomlin, and Lauren Townsend. They give me the inspiration to do what I'm doing right now," DeAngelis said. "I'm going to continue doing it because I am not going to allow them to die in vain, along with all the other students and staff members who have lost their lives. And that's a promise that I can guarantee."

Before his retirement in 2014, DeAngelis said he had to check himself into the emergency room over 10 times because of anxiety attacks. He added that he was able to reduce the frequency of his attacks by consoling former students who faced similar problems.

On April 20, 1999, the survivors who shared their experiences with ABC News described it as the worst day of their lives. However, 25 years later, they said some positive outcomes have emerged. One of them is the bond the survivors share with each other and the strength they derive from it. One survivor said some outstanding individuals are really tough, capable of enduring challenging situations and fighting through them.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


USC cancels all commencement speakers after canceled valedictorian speech

Mario Tama/Getty Images

(LOS ANGELES) -- Amid the decision to cancel this year's valedictorian speech, the University of Southern California announced it would be eliminating all outside speakers and honorees from its main-stage commencement taking place next month.

In a memo released on Friday, the university said, "To keep the focus on our graduates, we are redesigning the commencement program. Given the highly publicized circumstances surrounding our main-stage commencement program, university leadership has decided it is best to release our outside speakers and honorees from attending this year's ceremony."

Scheduled keynote speakers included USC alumnus filmmaker Jon M. Chu, director of "Crazy Rich Asians" and "Wicked." Sports icon Billie Jean King was also scheduled to speak.

Asna Tabassum, a first-generation South Asian-American Muslim, was scheduled to give a commencement speech on May 10. School administrators, however, decided to cancel her speech citing safety concerns.

USC said the decision was based on potential threats regarding the selection of the valedictorian.

"After careful consideration, we have decided that our student valedictorian will not deliver a speech at commencement," provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs at USC, Andrew T. Guzman, said in a letter to students on Monday. "While this is disappointing, tradition must give way to safety."

The college senior spoke about the situation with ABC News Live's Phil Lipof on Wednesday.

"The valedictorian honor is ultimately a unifying honor, right? It's emblematic of USC's unifying values. And I think I take that to heart."

"I wanted my speech to be in the genre of a valedictory speech, and so that being said, I wanted to impart a message of hope. I also wanted to impart a message of responsibility," Tabassum said to Lipof.

USC -- which expects a crowd of 65,000 for the commencement festivities on May 10 -- said the focus of the ceremony should be "on the tremendous accomplishments of our 19,000-plus graduates, their friends, their families, and the staff and faculty who have been such a critical part of their journeys."

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Trump hush money trial live updates: Judge sets opening statements for Monday

SimpleImages/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York City, where he is facing felony charges related to a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. It marks the first time in history that a former U.S. president has been tried on criminal charges.

Trump last April pleaded not guilty to a 34-count indictment charging him with falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to Daniels in order to boost his electoral prospects in the 2016 presidential election.

Here's how the news is developing:

Apr 19, 5:14 PM
Trump, exiting court, reiterates his plans to testify

Former President Donald Trump reiterated his plans to testify in his criminal trial as he exited the courtroom at the end of the day.

"We just had another hearing and the trial starts on Monday, which is long before a lot of people thought," Trump said. "The judge wants to go as fast as possible."

The former president again, without evidence, called the trial a witch hunt orchestrated by his political rivals.

Apr 19, 4:46 PM
Judge won't order prosecutors to disclose 1st witness

Judge Juan Merchan declined to order prosecutors to disclose their first witness after defense attorneys remade a request from yesterday.

"I still think that under the circumstances, the people's response is understandable, and I am not going to compel them to do anything," Merchan said, citing the hearing set for Tuesday to hold Trump in contempt for violating the judge's limited gag order.

Yesterday, prosecutors expressed concern that Trump might attack the initial witnesses if he learned their names. Today, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass offered a compromise -- that they would turn over the first witnesses name on Sunday with a strict condition.

"If that should be tweeted, that will be the last time we extend that courtesy," Steinglass said.

Steinglass said that while the testimony of the first witness will likely begin on Monday, it is unlikely the witness finishes their direct examination by the end of the day.

Court was subsequently recessed for the day.

Apr 19, 4:43 PM
Judge denies Trump's request for emergency stay

An appeals court judge has denied the defense's request for an emergency stay of the trial.

Trump earlier Friday filed the emergency appeal as he sought to change the venue of the trial based on some of the responses prospective jurors gave during the jury selection process.

The appeals court judge denied Trump's request to delay the start of the trial.

Trump's prior attempts to move the trial out of Manhattan have failed.

Apr 19, 4:28 PM
Judge sets opening statements for Monday

"We're going to have opening statements on Monday morning," Judge Juan Merchan declared.

He made the pronouncement after admonishing the defense to stop filing letters "targeting individual decisions one by one by one."

"There comes a point where you accept my rulings," he told Trump and his defense team.

"I've entertained your motions. I've entertained your arguments," Merchan said. "There's nothing else to clarify. There is nothing else to argue. We are going to have opening statements on Monday. We are starting on Monday."

Apr 19, 4:12 PM
Judge to rule tomorrow on Trump's cross-examination

Judge Juan Merchan plans to issue a ruling tomorrow about the bounds of Donald Trump's cross-examination if the former president decides to testify during the trial.

After hearing a brief oral argument this afternoon, Merchan told the parties he is reserving his decision, which he plans to issue sometime tomorrow.

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo argued that Trump's alleged prior bad acts as demonstrated by a variety of civil and criminal determinations should be fair game during cross-examination.

Apr 19, 3:55 PM
DA seeks to question Trump about earlier gag order

The Sandoval hearing on Trump's potential testimony got underway with prosecutors pushing to cross-examine former president Donald Trump about his alleged violation of the limited gag order in his civil fraud trial.

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo asked Judge Merchan to permit them to ask the former president about his testimony during his civil fraud trial when the former president claimed he was not referring to Judge Arthur Engoron's law clerk during remarks in the hallway of the courthouse last year.

Engoron determined that Trump's brief testimony rang "hollow and untrue."

Colangelo asked Merchan to allow cross-examination about Trump's testimony and the gag order violation last year in order to probe his credibility.

"He lied," Colangelo said of Trump. "It is very hard to think of something more probative of a testifying defendant's credibility."

Apr 19, 3:37 PM
Court resumes for afternoon session

Judge Juan Merchan began the court's afternoon session but did not mention the self-immolation incident this afternoon in the park across from the courthouse, and Trump did not respond to questions about the incident when asked by a reporter in the hallway outside the courtroom.

The judge plans to hold a Sandoval hearing this afternoon to determine the bounds of Trump's cross-examination if he decides to testify.

In a filing earlier this week, prosecutors said they planned to question the former president about his past civil cases, including $464 million business fraud judgment, the defamation and battery cases brought by E. Jean Carroll and a lawsuit Trump filed against Hillary Clinton claiming she conspired to rig the 2016 election.

Prosecutors also want to question Trump about the Trump Organization's 2022 criminal trial for tax evasion and the civil case against the Trump Foundation for misusing charitable donations to further Trump's political interests.

Trump is seated at counsel table between his lawyers Emil Bove and Todd Blanche. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is not present in the courtroom.

Apr 19, 3:10 PM
Trump files emergency appeal to move trial

Former President Trump has filed a new emergency appeal to change the venue of his criminal trial.

Oral arguments are scheduled for this afternoon to determine whether the trial should be temporarily paused.

The motion is expected to cite some of the responses prospective jurors gave during the jury selection process.

Trump's prior attempts to move the trial out of Manhattan have failed.

Apr 19, 2:02 PM
Man apparently sets himself on fire outside courthouse

A man apparently set himself on fire outside the courthouse while Trump was inside during the trial.

The person was badly burned and taken away from the scene on a stretcher.

It was not immediately clear if the incident was related to the criminal proceedings.

Apr 19, 1:52 PM
Hearing on potential Trump testimony set for afternoon

The hearing on the scope of former President Trump's potential testimony will occur today at 3:15 p.m.

Known as a Sandoval hearing, it will determine the extent of the prosecution's cross-examination.

Prosecutors have indicated they would like to question Trump about matters beyond the criminal case, including his recent $454 million civil fraud judgment, the two verdicts in the E. Jean Carroll cases and a lawsuit he filed against Hillary Clinton that resulted in legal sanctions.

Trump exited the courthouse when today's jury selection proceedings concluded, following the swearing in of the alternate jurors.

Apr 19, 1:43 PM
Alternate jurors sworn in

The six alternate jurors have been sworn-in, raising their hands.

"We have now completed jury selection for this case," Judge Merchan said.

The alternate jurors are five women and one man.

Alternate Juror No. 6 lives on the Upper East Side and is a project manager for a construction company and a mother of three children who "does whatever my kids want me to do in my spare time."

Her father was convicted of a federal crime when she was in high school. She said she was "shielded" from the details at the time.

Apr 19, 1:37 PM
Full jury panel now selected

“We have a full panel,” Judge Merchan said after alternate jurors 5 and 6 were selected.

Alternate Juror No. 5 is originally from Texas and has spent four years in New York.

She works in creative operations for a clothing company and ejoys concerts, restaurants and music.

Apr 19, 1:33 PM
Man with connection to Cohen's podcast is excused

The defense successfully challenged a man who said he owns a minority stake in the company that produced Michael Cohen's "Mea Culpa" podcast and said he has a "fairly negative" opinion of former President Trump based on his "negative, divisive rhetoric."

The judge confronted the man with several social media posts, including one referring to Trump with the words "sociopathic incompetence" and another saying of Trump, "I do believe that he is actually the devil."

The judge asked if that reflected his opinion. "I would say it's not far off base," the man replied, and he was immediately excused.

Apr 19, 1:26 PM
Judge excuses man who attended rally

Judge Merchan excused a retired teacher who attended what he considered to be a women’s rights rally near the United Nations but that the defense considered to be an anti-Trump rally.

“I did go there because I wanted to take pictures,” he said.

The judge confronted him with his social media post of a sign from the rally with a comment that said. “My sentiments exactly.”

Merchan said he wasn’t sure those sentiments were anti-Trump sentiments, but said he had concerns about the nature of the rally, which, in one post, the man suggested was a “massive anti-Trump rally.”

Apr 19, 1:20 PM
New alternates include audio pro, fintech employee

Alternate Juror No. 3 is an audio professional who offered to assist Judge Merchan with a microphone that kept cutting out. He expressed his opinion that "Donald Trump is a man, just like I am."

He said growth results from correcting their prior wrongful actions. "Every man should respond to their wrongdoings if found," he said. "If there is evidence found against a man, there should be consequences."

Alternate Juror No. 4 is a woman who said "I have no really strong opinions about President Trump."

She is married with two boys that she likes to take to Knicks games and Rubik's Cube speed competitions. She has been a contract specialist for 20 years, currently employed at a publicly traded fintech company.

The woman who participated in the Women's March and said Trump enabled homophobic and racist comments was excused. The judge called it "the safer course."

Apr 19, 1:11 PM
5 alternate jurors now seated

The has seated four more alternate jurors, joining the alternate juror who was seated Thursday. Two more are still needed.

One of the new alternates is a woman originally from Spain who said she has no strong opinions about former President Trump.

The woman said she is not on social media and doesn’t watch the news besides skimming through headlines. She said her husband will inform her of the news and that “I don't really go in depth into anything”

The defense was trying to eliminate the young woman who said she heard Trump followers express homophobic and racist things at the boxing gym.

“It’s almost like they’re devout to him,” the woman said of Trump’s followers. She is currently being questioned by the judge to assess her views and her ability to be fair and impartial.

Apr 19, 12:56 PM
Prospective alternates voice varied opinions of Trump

Many of the prospective alternates having been speaking freely about their opinions of former President Trump during individual questioning by defense attorney Susan Necheles.

As the former president looked on, one man said there were many categories to Trump: "He's a family man. He's a businessman," the man said. "Clearly he has brought a lot of value to the economy."

But he said his opinion was split over Trump himself.

"I really like lower taxes in this country. I like lower regulation," the man said. "When I think about the Republican Party and why we bring religion and women's rights with their own bodies," that's where he said he splits from Trump, concluding his impression is both "neutral and positive."

Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal in New York, April 19, 2024.
Another man conceded he posted online a handful of times about Trump in 2016 and "around the time of the insurrection." Asked for his impression of Trump, he responded, "I'd say it's fairly negative."

"You continue to hold that opinion of a strong dislike?" Necheles asked him. "Based on his rhetoric," the man answered, though he declared himself open-minded.

"What is your opinion?" Necheles asked another prospective alternate, the management consultant who likes the outdoors.

"I think not in agreement with a lot of policies. But it's also something that I've had to take a step back and really talk to a lot of people who are close to me that he has connected with," he responded. "You need to take both sides."

Apr 19, 12:39 PM
'That's an issue for me at the ballot box,' woman says

Defense attorney Susan Necheles has been questioning a woman who works for the New York City Law Department and who indicated she participated in the Women's March.

"Do you have strong feelings about former President Trump?" Necheles asked. "Not at the moment," the woman said. "I think my personal biases or opinions about President Trump are focused on his base. I think his rhetoric at times gives people permission to act on their negative impulses."

The woman said she used to box at the gym where she heard homophobic comments or racist comments "that would cite President Trump," but she said "that's an issue for me at the ballot box to deal with, not in the courtroom."

Trump turned in his seat to listen to the woman's responses.

The former president also appeared interested when a different prospective alternate complimented his "family unit," which she said "seems strong."

Earlier, as Necheles was questioning jurors about weighing the credibility of witnesses, a woman interrupted to ask Judge Merchan, "May I approach the bench?"

The woman indicated she was uncomfortable with what Necheles was asking.

"I feel that, through this line of questioning, I'm getting the same feeling of anxiety and self-doubt," the woman said.

The judge excused her after a short conference at the bench.

Apr 19, 12:16 PM
'I thought I could do this,' woman tearfully tells attorneys

The prospective alternate who said her father was a friend of Chris Christie's broke down crying during the individual questioning of prospective jurors, telling assistant DA Susan Hoffinger, "This is so much more stressful than I thought it would be."

Hoffinger was quizzing potential alternates about their views of the burden of proof that prosecutors are required to meet.

"I have to be honest, I feel so nervous and anxious right now," the woman said, breaking into tears. "I'm sorry, I thought I could do this. I wouldn't want someone who feels this way to judge my case."

The judge called her up to the bench for a private conversation and excused her from the pool.

When the questioning resumed, another prospective alternate turned the tables on Hoffinger. "May I ask you a question?" he said. "The burden of proof is subjective to each individual juror?"

Hoffinger explained that "there is only one burden of proof" and that prosecutors are obligated to prove Trump's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The man said he accepted that, and that he would not hold prosecutors to an even higher standard because Trump is a former president.

Apr 19, 11:37 AM
Some jurors reveal unexpected connections

As the prospective alternates continue to answer the questionnaire questions one by one, some jurors have revealed loose connections to Trump and others surrounding the case.

A young woman who works in financial services said that her father is a "lifelong friend" of Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who then ran Trump's 2016 transition team before becoming a critic of the former president.

The mention of Christie's name drew a rare laugh from Trump.

The woman also revealed a loose connection to Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen.

A man who lives in Midtown and said he uses his spare time to "try to find a wife" said he has multiple family members who work for the New York State Court -- and is related to a court officer who's currently present in the courtroom. Trump attorney Todd Blanche let out a laugh.

The man said it wouldn't affect his ability to be fair and impartial.

One woman stood up and tearfully explained she served time in Massachusetts over 10 years ago. Trump appeared to crane his neck and turn all the way to look at her, before Judge Merchan called her to the bench for a sidebar.

"I apologize for crying," the woman said as she continued with her questionnaire.

Trump has been sitting at the defense table flipping through papers that contain either charts, photos or graphics.

Apr 19, 11:00 AM
Several prospective alternates have read 'The Art of the Deal'

After a prospective alternate said he has a minority stake in a company that produces Michael Cohen's "Mea Culpa" podcast, Trump leaned forward and turned toward the man at the mention of his former attorney's name.

The man also said he had volunteered for a Democratic get-out-the-vote effort during Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign.

Several of the prospective alternates said they had read Trump's "Art of the Deal," including a management consultant who likes to be outdoors when he's not working.

A retired teacher made the requisite pledges, saying, "I will solely make my decision solely based on the evidence in the courtroom. There is no reason why I can't be a fair and impartial juror."

"I believe that everyone should obey the law," he said.

A woman with an MBA in information systems who likes to "cook, bake, watch hockey" inquired about the court's schedule for Passover. Told the court was planning to break early this coming Monday and Tuesday, she said that would give her plenty of time to travel to her seders in New Jersey.

A contract specialist for a fintech company said she likes to take her two boys to Knicks games and Rubik's Cube speed competitions.

Another prospective alternate skipped the questionnaire and told the judge she could not be impartial.

"After thinking about this yesterday after hearing the questions, I don't think I can be impartial," the woman said before Judge Merchan excused her without objection.

Apr 19, 10:22 AM
'I don't think I can be impartial,' says woman who's excused

Asked to share her responses to the jury questionnaire, one prospective alternate said she wanted to "jump ahead" to Question 34, which asks whether any strong opinions of Trump would interfere with the ability to be fair.

"The last day, after some introspection, I don't think I can be impartial," the woman said. "I had every intention when I first started, but I think after the questions posed to prospective jurors and asking the questions to myself, I don't think I can be impartial."

Judge Merchan excused her without objection from the attorneys.

A prospective alternate who works for the New York City Law Department said in response to a question that she had read Trump's "Art of the Deal." Trump, who appeared to have his eyes closed, opened them right away at that response and looked at the woman.

The woman also said she had been sexually assaulted "a couple of times on the train."

Trump also appeared to have been chewing on something. He has been conferring with defense attorney Emil Bove throughout the more mundane parts of the questionnaire responses.

A chef for a "large hospitality group" said he follows the White House account on Instagram, "so when Mr. Trump was president, obviously I was receiving updates." Trump turned his head to look at the man after he had been slumped over the defense table looking down.

Apr 19, 9:55 AM
Prospective alternates begin tackling questionnaire

Members of the remaining pool of jurors are reading aloud their answers to the jury questionnaire in order for the parties to pick the final alternates needed for the trial -- but even before the first prospective alternate began, she said, "I have really bad anxiety" about people possibly finding out who she is.

"I might not be able to be completely fair and that concerns me," the woman said. "More and more people in my life know I'm here without me even telling them, just by putting the pieces together."

She was immediately excused by Judge Merchan without objection from the lawyers.

There are 22 prospective alternates in the jury box that will respond to the questionnaire before the lawyers question them individually. The court must seat five additional alternate jurors after one was seated on Thursday.

Apr 19, 9:44 AM
Court back in session for Day 4

Court is back in session for Day 4 of the trial, kicking off what is widely expected to be the last day of jury selection.

Former President Trump is in his usual seat at the defense table, along with his lawyers. His aide Steven Cheung and attorney Cliff Robert are sitting in the back row of the courtroom.

"Good morning, Mr. Trump," Judge Merchan said as he entered the courtroom, which, like yesterday, is quite chilly.

"We're still working on the temperature in the courtroom," Merchan told all those assembled.

Apr 19, 9:29 AM
'I want to be open,' Trump tells reporters

Entering the courthouse this morning, Trump again criticized the limited gag order in the case, telling reporters, "Every time I come out to speak to you, I want to be open because we did absolutely nothing wrong."

It was a continuation of his campaign against Judge Merchan's limited gag order, which prevents him from targeting potential witnesses in the case, as well as jurors, lawyers, court staff, and the families of Merchan and District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

"The gag order has to come off. I should be allowed to speak," he said.

Apr 19, 7:58 AM
Alternate jurors expected to be picked today

The temperature is rising in Donald Trump's New York criminal trial -- just not in the courtroom itself.

As the parties worked to select the jury Thursday, prosecutors alleged that the former president had violated the limited gag order in the case seven additional times beyond the three instances they flagged on Monday. The accusation came a day after Judge Juan Merchan scolded the former president for muttering within earshot of the jury.

As for the actual temperature, Trump and his attorneys complained it was too cold.

"I'm sitting here for days now from morning till night in that freezing room," Trump told reporters Thursday during a break in the proceedings.

Trump attorney Todd Blanche asked Judge Merchan if he could turn up the heat in the courtroom "just one degree," but the judge politely declined, saying he feared a one-degree bump in the nearly century-old building could increase the temperature by 30 degrees.

But the parties persevered, seating the jury's 12 members by the end of the day. Today they'll work to seat the jury's six alternates, in the hope of starting opening arguments on Monday.

Apr 18, 5:44 PM
'I'm supposed to be in North Carolina,' Trump tells reporters

Following court, Trump exited the courtroom where he reiterated to reporters that he spent the day in the courtroom instead of campaigning for president.

"I'm supposed to be in … New Hampshire … I'm supposed to be in Georgia. I'm supposed to be in North Carolina, South Carolina. I'm supposed to be in a lot of different places campaigning, but I've been here all day on a trial that really is a very unfair trial," he said.

The former president went on to claim that legal experts and various media outlets suggest there's no case.

"The case is ridiculous," he said. "It's missing fraud. There is no fraud."

A reporter, referring to a juror who had characterized Trump during questioning as "selfish and self-serving", shouted, "The juror called you selfish. How does that make you feel?" but Trump did not respond and exited the hallway.

Apr 18, 5:31 PM
Court recessed for the day

Judge Juan Merchan has recessed court for the day.

Proceedings will resume tomorrow with plans to choose the remaining alternates for the jury.

Apr 18, 5:13 PM
Citing concerns, prosecutors mum on identity of 1st witnesses

Prosecutors are keeping their cards close to vest regarding who the first witnesses called at trial will be.

When defense attorney Todd Blanche requested the names of the first three state witnesses, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass declined to provide the name of the first planned witnesses following opening statements.

“Mr. Trump has been tweeting about the witnesses,” Steinglass said. “We are not telling you who the witnesses are.”

Blanche attempted to ease that concern by vowing that the former president would not post about the likely witness.

“I don’t think you can make that representation,” Judge Juan Merchan said.

On a separate matter, Merchand said that if time permits tomorrow, he plans to hold a planned hearing on the bounds of Trump’s cross-examination if he opts to testify.

Apr 18, 5:06 PM
Judge says goal is for opening statements on Monday

Judge Merchan indicated that his goal is to have opening statements in the trial begin on Monday morning.

“We can't start until every single one of you is here,” Merchan said to the newly sworn-in jury members, urging them to inform him if they encounter any delay.

After the jury was sworn in, former President Trump sat stone-faced at the defense table with his hands locked, staring at the jury as they left the courtroom.

Apr 18, 4:58 PM
5 new jurors include several transplanted New Yorkers

Following the seven jurors chosen earlier, here is basic biographical information on the remaining five jurors, whose identities are being kept private for security reasons.

Juror No. 8 is a former wealth manager who moved to New York in the 1980s. He is originally from Lebanon.

Juror No. 9 is a speech therapist who grew up in New Jersey.

Juror No. 10 has lived in Murray Hill for six years and worked in commerce for an eyewear company.

Juror No. 11 is originally from California and works as a production development manager for a multinational apparel company.

Juror No. 12 is a physical therapist whose husband works as a coach for a professional sports team.

Apr 18, 4:41 PM
12 jurors now seated, alternates to come

A full jury of 12 members has now been seated following the addition of five more jurors.

The court is now working to select the six alternate jurors for the case.

"We have our jury," Judge Merchan said.

The 12 jurors then rose, raised their right hands, and were sworn in.

Apr 18, 4:27 PM
'Oops, that sounds bad,' potential juror says of past social posts

Trump's lawyers sought to strike a potential juror by confronting her with her own social media posts about the former president.

"These posts are vitriolic," defense lawyer Susan Necheles said. "There is no question that this is as strong language as you can get for Donald Trump."

Necheles cited past posts including one where the potential juror said Trump was "anathema" to her beliefs.

"I wouldn't believe Donald Trump if his tongue were notarized," another post allegedly said.

When the potential juror was questioned about the posts, she said that she did not immediately recall making them.

Merchan then asked her to read back some of her posts, including one when she called Trump a "racist, sexist, narcissist."

"Oops, that sounds bad," the potential juror said. "I was in a disturbed frame of mind during that election cycle."

After questioning, the prospective juror apologized to Trump, saying of her posts, "I don't think it's appropriate."

The judge ultimately struck her from consideration for the jury.

"Those were pretty strong views," Judge Marchan said.

Apr 18, 4:20 PM
2 new jurors seated

Two new jurors have been seated, including a man with an MBA in finance who follows Trump on Truth Social and also follows Michael Cohen.

"I do not have any beliefs that would prevent me from being fair or impartial," the man said while answering attorneys' questions.

"Except for following Michael Cohen or someone like that I don't follow any anti-Trump organizations," he said.

The second new juror is a security engineer who is married with three children, whose wife is a teacher.

The new additions bring the number of jurors selected so far back to seven, after two jurors were excused earlier today.

The court is now looking for eleven more jurors, six of them alternates.

Apr 18, 4:13 PM
Prospective juror once stayed at defense attorney's house

After individual questioning, Judge Merchan dismissed a prospective juror after prosecutors raised concern about her preexisting knowledge of the case and asked to strike her for cause.

"I'm worried that I know too much," she said under questioning. "I am worried that it is going to seep in in some way."

Trump's lawyers attempted to strike another juror who previously interacted with defense attorney Susan Necheles in a personal setting.

"She stayed at my house overnight," Necheles said.

Merchan declined to strike the potential juror after she said she could follow the court's instructions and be a fair juror.

"One time in 50 years," Merchan said about the overnight stay.

"I know her husband very well," Necheles acknowledged.

"He is not in the jury," Merchan responded.

Apr 18, 3:55 PM
3rd group of prospective jurors sworn in

A third batch of 100 prospective jurors has just been sworn and sent home, while prosecutors and defense attorneys ponder which potential jurors who they just questioned individually should be excused for cause or with a peremptory challenge.

It's the third group of jurors who have been sworn in for consideration, after 96 jurors arrived Monday and another 96 arrived Tuesday.

The 18 people who were being in the jury box left the room when the new group of jurors entered, creating a brief traffic jam.

Defense attorney Susan Necheles ended her individual questioning by asking prospective jurors if they would be capable of returning a not guilty verdict if the prosecutors did not prove their case.

“If they do not prove it, I will not be returning a guilty verdict,” said a woman.

The court is looking for seven more jurors and six alternates.

Apr 18, 3:49 PM
Trump hears differing views of his personality

Former President Trump, sitting at the defense table, just finished listening to opposite reviews of his presidency and character.

First, a prospective female juror bluntly said, "I don't like his persona," when asked if she has any strong opinions about him.

"The way he presents himself in public ... he is just very selfish and self serving," the prospective juror said. "So I don't really appreciate that in any public servant. I don't know him as a person ... but just how he is in public, and how he carries himself in public, it's not my cup of tea."

Trump seemed to be leaning forward listening carefully to her answer, at times fidgeting. He leaned back and crossed his arms when she finished.

Then, a male prospective juror took the mic and said he found Trump "pretty amazing."

"He was a businessman in New York. He forged his way," the prospective juror said. "He kind of made history ... I’m impressed with that.”

Trump leaned forward again, listening to this new answer.

"I started as an entrepeneur as well ... made a lot of things happen," the prospective juror said. "Just like he has."

A lifelong New Yorker who works in law enforcement, he said that his love of hockey also made him feel warmly toward Trump.

“As a wannabe hockey player, I still thank him for fixing that Wollman Rink that nobody could fix,” he said of the ice skating rink in Central Park that Trump had refurbished in the 1980s.

Apr 18, 3:34 PM
Defense attorney probes jury prospects for bias

Defense attorney Susan Necheles is now questioning the potential jurors to probe for any bias they might have regarding the former president.

"Do you have strong feelings about President Trump?" Necheles asked a prospective juror who lives on the Upper West Side and works in publishing.

"I disagree with most of his policies," she responded, though she added she did not have a strong opinion of Trump personally. "It is purely a political opinion."

A woman who lives in Inwood and works as a paralegal at a major law firm acknowledged that she might have made some negative social media posts about Trump.

"His politics aren't always my politics," she said of the former president.

"Is this going to affect how you are going to look at the evidence of this case, even if you want to be fair?" Necheles asked the jurors broadly.

"Will you keep an open mind?" Steinglass asked.

Few of the prospective jurors took issue with it.

One prospective juror said she's "100% confident" she can keep an open mind.

"I'd have to wait to hear everything and see if it's compelling or not," said another.

Apr 18, 2:50 PM
Court resumes with questioning of prospective jurors

Court resumed after the lunch break with the individual questioning of 18 prospective jurors, who are seated in the jury box.

Assistant District Attorney Josh Steinglass began with a rhetorical question for the group: "How am I considered for this case of all cases?"

Steinglass said the case was not a referendum on the Trump presidency or anyone's politics. "This case is about whether this man broke the law," he said, gesturing toward Trump.

"I could be objective," one of the prospective jurors, the security officer with Rangers seats and a flip phone, said.

Before the questions resumed, Judge Juan Merchan addressed the temperature in the courtroom.

"I want to apologize that it's chilly in here," Merchan said.

Earlier, when defense attorney Todd Blanche asked to make the courtroom warmer, the judge had said he feared a one-degree bump in the nearly century-old building could increase the temperature by 30 degrees.

Apr 18, 1:16 PM
Prospective juror born in Italy is excused

A prospective juror was promptly excused after he explained he was born and raised in Italy, where he said the media has a "strong association" between Donald Trump and scandal-plagued former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi that would prevent him from being fair.

"Now that I'm sitting here, it's going to be hard for me to retain my impartiality and fairness," the man said before he was excused.

Court subsequently recessed for lunch, with the questioning of potential jurors scheduled to resume after the break.

Apr 18, 12:59 PM
Long Island native answers attorneys' questions

After losing two jurors, the selection process is stretching on this afternoon with prospective jurors standing up one-by-one to read the questionnaire.

"This is so bizarre," said a Long Island native when time came for her turn.

The woman is married with two children and has served on a jury three times before. She said her son is some sort of rating analyst, but conceded, "I don't actually know what he does."

Defense attorney Todd Blanche appeared to laugh at that answer. Donald Trump did not.

In response to the question of whether she can put aside bias, the prospective juror answered, "Yes, I will be unbiased. I will be very impartial."

Trump has appeared at times interested in some of the jurors as they work through their questionnaires. As one woman read her answers out loud, Trump turned his body to face her, slid is arm over the back of his chair, and crossed one leg over the other, listening.

Apr 18, 12:18 PM
2nd juror excused, leaving 5 seated for now

Judge Juan Merchan has excused Juror No. 4 after he returned to the courtroom to speak with the judge.

There are now five jurors seated, after Juror No. 2 was excused earlier.

Judge Merchan said the man "expressed annoyance" at how much personal information about him had been publicized.

Trump looked on from his seat, alone, as the attorneys spoke to the judge.

The judge said the sidebar discussion would be sealed and omitted from the daily transcript.

Apr 18, 12:04 PM
Judge, attorneys question Juror No. 4

Juror No. 4, who the DA's office said apparently failed to disclose prior encounters with the judicial system when he was picked for the jury, returned to the courtroom where he was questioned by Judge Merchan and attorneys for the two sides.

The discussion took place at the bench, out of earshot, in a private sidebar. Trump remained seated.

Assistant District Attorney Josh Steinglass questioned the juror, a grandfather originally from Puerto Rico who earlier indicated he found Trump "fascinating."

At one point, the juror broke out laughing. Defense attorney Todd Blanche also appeared to be laughing.

The man was then escorted from the courtroom, after which the judge said he would give the attorneys a few minutes to discuss the circumstances with the juror, who prosecutors determined had ripped down political posters in Westchester County in the 1990s. The posters leaned to the "political right," Steinglass had said.

There was also a prior deferred prosecution agreement the juror's wife entered into with the Manhattan district attorney's office, which he also failed to disclose while responding to the jury questionnaire.

Apr 18, 11:42 AM
Law enforcement officer draws chuckles

"Good morning and thank you for having me," a prospective juror boomed, shaking a sleepy courtroom to attention and drawing a chuckle when he revealed he served as a court security officer.

The man proudly declared he's "born and raised" in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, and has been in law enforcement for 34 years, assigned by the New York State court system to the Court of Claims.

He said he's a New York Rangers season ticket holder and does not have a smartphone.

"I still use a flip phone," he said.

He also said the only news he gets is from the Daily News and the New York Post.

Apr 18, 11:24 AM
MBA, woman in publishing among prospective jurors questioned

A prospective juror with an MBA in finance told the court that he follows Trump on Truth Social but takes no part in political rallies for or against the former president.

"Except for following Michael Cohen or someone like that, I don't follow any anti-Trump organizations," the man said.

"I do not have any beliefs that would prevent me from being fair or impartial," he said.

A woman from the Upper West Side whose husband served as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn said she read "the first ten pages or so of 'Disloyal,'" Michael Cohen's book. The woman, who works in publishing, quickly added, "for business reasons."

Another prospective juror, a woman who lives in Greenwich Village, said she read Trump's "Art of the Deal," decades ago.

Trump appears to be actively listening to many of these responses. At one point he called over a court security officer to ask him something.

Apr 18, 11:05 AM
Attorneys questioning prospective jurors

Attorneys assessing the newest group of prospective jurors are questioning a woman who works at a big law firm, who said she discussed the Trump hush money case "at length" with her coworkers.

The woman said she has both criminal and civil law experience and has "discussed the legal merits of the this case with many co-workers."

Asked by the judge whether she could be fair, the woman pledged to "put that aside" but added "it's hard to un-ring a bell."

The woman, who lives with her fiancé on the Upper East Side, said she took part in the women's march.

She also said she discussed a book by Mark Pomerantz, who had been hired by then-district attorney Cy Vance to work on the Trump investigation. The book was critical of decisions Bragg made about the case, but the prospective juror sought to assure Judge Merchan she could put anything she has heard or read about the case aside.

"I will follow your instructions," the woman said.

Apr 18, 10:53 AM
9 more prospective jurors excused from pool

Nine additional prospective jurors from the second group of 96 were excused after they signaled they could not serve for other, unexplained, reasons.

Fifty-seven of the 96 in the second pool of prospective jurors have now been excused.

The remaining 39 are now giving their responses to the seven-page questionnaire.

Following the departure of Juror No. 2 this morning after she expressed concerns about her ability to serve, the court must now seat six jurors and six alternates. The court deferred dealing with the potential issue over Juror No. 4.

Apr 18, 10:46 AM
Half of new jury group excused due to impartiality

Addressing the new group of 96 prospective jurors, Judge Merchan asked for a show of hands "if you believe you cannot be fair and impartial."

Forty-eight people -- half the pool -- raised their hands.

Apr 18, 10:42 AM
New group of prospective jurors enters courtroom

A new group of 96 prospective jurors has entered the courtroom for the next round of jury selection.

Several in the group registering surprise upon seeing Trump at the defense table.

As Judge Merchan delivered his opening remarks, Trump’s eyes often remained closed. He appeared more attentive when Merchan ticked through the names of potential witnesses, which read like a Who’s Who of the Trump family, campaign and administration.

Apr 18, 10:08 AM
Another juror under scrutiny after one is excused

Following the loss of Juror. No. 2, attorneys are now discussing an issue with yet another juror -- Juror No. 4 -- after Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass said the the DA's team did research that "possibly called into question the veracity" of the answers he gave on the jury questionnaire.

Steinglass said a person with the same name as Juror No. 4 -- the Puerto Rican man who said he found Trump "fascinating and mysterious" -- had been arrested in the 1990s in Westchester for "tearing down political advertisements."

“I actually believe the propaganda that was being ripped down was political posters that were on the right -- the political right," Steinglass said.

He suggested that Juror No. 4's answer to question 19 on the questionnaire -- if you have ever been accused or convicted of committing a crime -- then "was not accurate."

Steinglass added they discovered the juror's wife had been embroiled in a "corruption inquiry" that resulted in her "entering in a differed prosecution agreement ... with the Manhattan DA's office."

MORE: Who are the first 7 jurors of Trump's historic criminal trial
Steinglass said they felt they were "ethically and legally obligated to bring this information to the court."

Judge Merchan said he instructed Juror No. 4 to be in court at 9:15, but he still has not shown up.

Trump attorney Todd Blanche said he did not consent to dismissing the juror without first hearing from him. They will revisit the issue later.

Apr 18, 9:58 AM
Prosecutors again accuse Trump of violating limited gag order

Prosecutors are now bringing up what they say are more violations of the limited gag order on former President Trump.

Since they last brought up the issue earlier this week, Trump violated the gag order seven more times, prosecutors claimed.

"It's ridiculous, it has to stop," they said.

Prosecutors said they would like to discuss the seven new posts at the hearing on the matter that is scheduled next week.

"We are asking you to hold the defendant in contempt," they said.

But they indicated they could seek harsher penalties than just financial penalties, saying they are still "considering their options."

Trump attorney Emile Bove pushed back, saying the posts "don't establish there were any willful violations."

Apr 18, 9:44 AM
Jury 'just lost' one member, says judge

"We just lost what would have probably been a very good juror on this case," Judge Merchan said about Juror No. 2, who appears to have been excused.

That would bring the total number of seated jurors down to six, instead of seven.

Juror No. 2 said she "definitely has concerns now" regarding about what has been reported about her publicly. She said she received questions about her identity after colleagues and family said she may have been identified.

Judge Merchan admonished the press for revealing too much information about the jurors, and asked the press to "please refrain" from writing about jurors' physical appearance. He also said there was "no need" to mention one of the jurors had an Irish accent.

"It has become a problem," Marchan said.

Merchan then said he would be redacting some information from the public, including questions 3a and 3b from the jury questionnaire.

Apr 18, 9:39 AM
Juror tells court she has 'concerns' about serving

Court is off to a rocky start this morning after Judge Merchan said the court received a call from already-seated Juror No. 2, who conveyed that "after sleeping on it overnight, she had concerns" about serving on the case.

Marchan said he called that juror back this morning. She is now answering questions.

"I don't believe at this point that I can be fair and unbiased," the juror said.

Apr 18, 9:31 AM
Court is back in session

Court is back in session this morning for Day 3 of jury selection. Former President Trump is in the courtroom in his usual seat between Todd Blanche and Emile Bove.

Two members of Trump's campaign, Jason Miller and Steven Chueng, are also in the courtroom on the last bench in the back of the room.

Trump sat conferring with his attorneys as he waited for Judge Marchan to take the bench.

"Good morning Mr. Trump," the judge said as he gaveled in in proceedings.

Apr 18, 7:37 AM
Jury selection to resume

Jury selection resumes today in former President Trump's criminal hush money case when a new batch of 96 prospective jurors tackles the seven-page questionnaire that begins the whittling-down process.

Seven jurors were seated and sworn in on Tuesday. They were told to be prepared to return to court as soon as Monday when opening statements could begin.

Among the seated jurors is a school teacher, an oncology nurse and a grandfather born in Puerto Rico who said he found Trump "fascinating and mysterious."

The court needs five additional jurors and six alternates.

On Tuesday, each side used six of its 10 peremptory strikes, which eliminate a prospective juror from the pool for almost any reason. The judge may give each side additional peremptory challenges for seating alternate jurors.

Apr 17, 3:39 PM
Prosecutors want to question Trump about civil cases

If former President Trump opts to testify in the trial, prosecutors want to question him about all the times he has been held liable in civil court, according to a new court filing in the case.

Prosecutors have asked Judge Juan Merchan to hold a hearing, known as a Sandoval hearing, to determine the scope of what they can ask Trump on cross-examination.

"We are prepared to do a Sandoval hearing now, later or whenever the court desires," Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass said on Monday.

The judge has not set a date for the hearing but suggested it could be Friday.

In their filing, prosecutors outlined the civil cases they'd like to bring up during the criminal trial, including the $464 million judgment in Trump's civil fraud case, the defamation and battery cases brought by E. Jean Carroll and a lawsuit Trump filed against Hillary Clinton claiming she conspired to rig the 2016 election, for which Trump and his lawyers faced legal sanctions after the case was thrown out as frivolous.

Prosecutors also want to question Trump about a criminal case his company lost in 2022, when the Trump Organization was convicted of tax evasion by providing non-cash compensation to top executives.

They also want to bring up a civil case the New York attorney general won against the Trump Foundation for misusing charitable donations to further Trump's political interests.

Apr 17, 12:06 PM
Trump criticizes jury selection process

On his day off from his New York criminal trial, Donald Trump is complaining about the jury selection process on his social media platform.

The former president is claiming that in the process of picking the jury, he doesn't have enough strikes -- i.e., allowances to remove prospective jurors that his legal team objects to.

"I thought STRIKES were supposed to be 'unlimited' when we were picking our jury?" Trump wrote on his social media platform. "I was then told we only had 10, not nearly enough when we were purposely given the 2nd Worst Venue in the Country."

Trump does get unlimited strikes to remove a juror for cause, which means for a specified reason -- but both the defense and prosecutors have a limited number of preemptory challenges, which allow for the removal of a juror for any reason.

-Soo Rin Kim, Lalee Ibssa and Peter Charalambous

Apr 17, 8:27 AM
Court is in recess today

Court is not in session today in former President Trump's criminal hush money trial, as the trial schedule has a full-day recess every Wednesday.

Yesterday saw the first seven jurors in the case seated. Eleven more jurors -- six of them alternates -- remain to be chosen.

The selection of the first jurors was one of the four big takeaways from Day 2 of the trial Tuesday.

Apr 16, 5:58 PM
Trump vows to continue fight against judge

Former President Donald Trump vowed to continue his effort to have the judge overseeing his case removed, as he exited the courtroom after a lengthy trial day.

"We are going to continue our fight against this judge," Trump told reporters, acknowledging he is having a "hard time with the New York state system."

Judge Juan Merchan denied Trump's second recusal motion on Monday, and an appellate court denied his effort to have the case delayed over the recusal effort last week.

"We have a very conflicted, highly conflicted judge. He shouldn't be on the case. He's rushing this trail, and he's doing as much as he can for the Democrats," Trump said, without evidence, before his motorcade departed the courthouse.

Apr 16, 5:50 PM
Day ends with seven jurors selected, 11 more to go

After seating the seventh juror in the case, Judge Juan Merchan reiterated his hope that opening statements could commence Monday if the remaining jurors are selected by then.

Until then, "put the case out of your mind," Merchan told the seventh juror. "Don't think about it, don't talk about it."

The judge then concluded the proceedings for the day. Court will be in recess on Wednesday, and jury selection will resume Thursday with the fresh batch of 96 prospective jurors.

With seven jurors now seated, 11 more jurors -- six of them alternates -- remain to be chosen.

Apr 16, 5:40 PM
Judge swears in seventh juror

Judge Juan Merchan has sworn in and seated a seventh juror, selecting the North Carolina-born civil litigator who now resides on the Upper East Side, after neither party challenged his selection.

Prosecutors used two preemptory strikes on the real estate developer and former police photographer, who had both made it to the final round of questioning.

Merchan excused them both before swearing in the seventh juror.

The trial's first six jurors were sworn in and seated earlier Tuesday.

Apr 16, 5:30 PM
First six jurors represent cross-section of New York

The first six jurors selected to serve in Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial represent a diverse cross-section of New York City, according to their biographical information. Here's a brief sketch of each juror, whose identities are being kept private for security reasons:

Juror No. 1 is a middle-aged salesman who immigrated to the United States from Ireland. He lives in West Harlem and said he normally gets his news from the New York Times, Daily Mail, Fox News and MSNBC. In his spare time, he said he enjoys doing "anything outdoorsy."

Juror No. 2 works as an oncology nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering. She lives with her fiancé and enjoys taking her dog for walks in the park. She said she gets her news from The New York Times, CNN, Google, and Facebook.

Juror 3 is a corporate attorney who moved to New York from Oregon five years ago. He has worked at two major white-shoe law firms in New York. He said he normally gets his news from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Google. In his spare time, he said he enjoys hiking and running.

Juror No. 4 said he finds the former president to be "fascinating and mysterious." Originally from Puerto Rico, he has lived in the Lower East Side for the last 40 years. He is a self-employed IT consultant who attended one year of college and has been "married for a long time." He normally gets his news from the Daily News, The New York Times, and Google.

Juror No. 5 was the only potential juror who raised her hand when lawyers asked if they had ever heard of Trump's other criminal cases. A life-long New Yorker, she currently works as an ELA teacher in a charter school and lives in Harlem. She normally gets her news from Google and TikTok but said that she "doesn't really care for the news."

Juror No. 6 is a software engineer who works for the Walt Disney Company, which is the parent company of ABC News. She grew up in New York City and lives in Chelsea with three roommates. She said she gets her news from The New York Times and TikTok. In her spare time, she said she enjoys plays, restaurants, dancing, and watching TV.

Apr 16, 5:21 PM
Three prospective jurors remain from original 96

Three prospective jurors now remain from the first group of 96, and they're facing questions from Trump attorney Todd Blanche after fielding questions from prosecutor Susan Hoffinger regarding their jury questionnaire.

The three are a civil litigator, a real estate developer, and a retired New York Police Department photographer.

Asked what he thought about Trump's book The Art of the Deal, which he previously stated that he had read, the real estate developer said, "I felt it was entertaining." He added that, as a developer, he was "an admirer from afar of some of the work" Trump has done, but he has no opinion on "how he conducts himself."

The civil litigator claimed to know "virtually nothing" about criminal law.

Trump, watching from the defense table, leaned back in his chair slightly and alternated looking ahead and in the direction of the prospective jurors as they read aloud their answers from the questionnaire.

Apr 16, 5:10 PM
Handful of jury prospects remain from initial group of 96

Four of the six remaining prospective jurors from the initial batch of 96 have ticked through their jury questionnaire, after which two were excused, leaving two still in the running to be selected.

A fifth prospect, a retired New York Police Department photographer, was going through his questionnaire.

A prospective juror who is a real estate developer advanced to the next round. He said he read The Art of the Deal a "long time ago" and alerted the court to tangential relationships with the former president.

"There are people that I know that know the president," he said. "It wouldn't in any way influence my thinking ... but I just wanted to state for the record that that's out there."

Among prospective jurors who were excused in the latest round was a North Carolina-born civil litigator and a doctor who asked to be excused to care for her patients. A history teacher at an all-girls' school was excused after she said her opinions about Trump might interfere with her ability to serve impartially.

Apr 16, 4:20 PM
Judge swears in second group of 96 prospective jurors

With six seats filled on the jury that will determine the outcome of Donald Trump's first criminal trial, a new group of 96 New Yorkers was ushered into the courtroom and sworn in as prospective jurors.

Many of them craned their necks to get a look at the defendant.

"Ma'am, ma'am, put your cellphone away," a court security officer told one woman who tried to pull out her phone after spotting Trump.

One man and woman were seen whispering feverishly to one another.

After members of the group were sworn in, Judge Merchan told them he was sending them home for the day.

"I know that you've been sitting around all day, waiting for something to happen, and I want you to know that that wasn't lost on us," Merchan said, telling them the proceedings would start right away when they return Thursday morning following Wednesday's day off.

Before the new panel was brought in, the judge asked Trump's defense team to confirm that the social media posts it's been digging up are all are public. Trump attorney Todd Blanche confirmed they were.

Apr 16, 4:01 PM
Judge suggests arguments could begin early next week

After selecting and swearing in the first six jurors, Judge Juan Merchan asked them to return on Monday unless they hear otherwise from the court -- suggesting that opening statements could happen as soon as early next week.

The judge, however, cautioned that seating the remaining jurors may not happen by then.

"We don't know exactly how long that will last," Merchan said.

Apr 16, 3:48 PM
Six jurors now seated

Judge Juan Merchan has now seated and sworn in six jurors to sit in judgment of former President Trump, after each side used several preemptory strikes and other prospective jurors were stricken over politically-charged social media posts.

"You are the first six jurors selected for this trial," Merchan said.

Juror No. 1, the foreperson, is a man born in Ireland who works in sales and lives in West Harlem.

Juror No. 2 is an oncology nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering who lives on the Upper East Side.

Juror No. 3 is an attorney who lives in Chelsea.

Juror No. 4 is an IT consultant who lives on the Lower East Side and is originally from Puerto Rico.

Juror No. 5 is a charter school teacher from Harlem.

Juror No. 6 is a software employee who works for Disney and lives in Chelsea.

Apr 16, 3:42 PM
First 3 jurors seated

Three jurors from the first batch of 96 prospects have been selected for the jury.

After the defense raised a series of motions to remove jurors for cause, citing their social media posts, Judge Juan Merchan formally approved three jurors:

- an Irish-born salesman;

- an oncology nurse; and

- an attorney who lives in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood.

The selections came after Judge Merchan blocked one other motion from the defense to strike a juror for cause and granted another.

The juror Merchan agreed to remove was an Upper West Side bookseller who recently re-posted an AI video to social media mocking Trump, which included a fake Trump saying, "I'm dumb as f---."

"I thought it would be funny," the juror said.

The government then used three of its ten preemptory strikes and the defense used four.

Apr 16, 3:18 PM
Judge removes juror whose post said 'lock him up'

After declining to strike a potential juror for her Facebook content, Judge Merchan granted a defense motion to strike another juror for a social media post.

"Good news!!" the post read. "Trump lost his court battle on his unlawful travel ban!!!"

If the post ended there, Judge Merchan said, he would allow him to remain in contention. But the post didn't stop there.

"Get him out and lock him up," the post continued.

Those post shows the prospective juror expressing "the desire that Trump be locked up," Merchan said. "Everyone knows that if Mr. Trump" is found guilty, he could face prison time.

"I don't think I can allow this juror to remain," the judge said, before agreeing to strike the juror.

Apr 16, 3:06 PM
Judge declines defense's motion to remove juror

Judge Merchan declined to strike for cause the prospective juror who posted what the defense called "hostile" Facebook videos, explaining that he believed the juror when she told the court that she would follow the facts of the case.

"I don't want a juror on this panel who lies to us. I don't want a juror on this panel who misleads us," he said. "And for this reason, I did want to hear from the juror."

Ultimately, Merchan found her assurances to be honest.

"I was able to see her demeanor, I was able to hear her voice," he said. "That juror looked me right in the eye, and when she said she could be fair and impartial, she meant it."

"I find her to be credible," Merchan concluded, before denying the defense motion to remove her from the jury.

Apr 16, 2:54 PM
Judge scolds Trump for 'muttering' at prospective juror

As jury selection resumed for the afternoon session, Judge Juan Merchan scolded former President Trump over his audible "muttering" while a prospective juror was speaking.

"Your client was audibly muttering something," the judge told Trump's attorneys. "He was speaking in the direction of the juror. I will not tolerate that. I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom. I want to make that crystal clear. Take a minute and speak to your client."

The interaction occurred after Trump's defense attorney sought to immediately strike potential jurors for cause based on social media posts that he said contradicted their assertions of fairness.

"There's a number of the jurors that we have social media posts for very much contrary to the answers that they gave," defense attorney Todd Blanche said.

Blanche pointed to a woman who he said has a "series of extraordinarily hostile Facebook posts."

One of the posts read, "So I've been in the middle of the ocean for the last few weeks. What's going on?"

Another post included a video of people celebrating near Manhattan's 96th Street and the words, "Full-on dance party at 96 Street."

Judge Merchan seemed baffled. "Show me the bias," the judge said. "I'm trying to understand. How does this call into question what the juror said when that juror was answering questions?"

Blanche insisted the post, a day after the 2020 election, was a celebration of Trump's loss.

"This is ridiculous," prosecutor Josh Steinglass said.

The judge determined "there are enough questions here" to allow the defense to question the woman about her posts.

"I think I went to the car to alternate-side parking or something like that and there were people dancing in the street," the woman said, adding that it reminded her of the pandemic-era cheer for health workers.

"I understand that bias exists," the woman said. "The job of the juror is to understand the facts of the trial."

When the woman left the room, that's when the judge scolded Trump.

Apr 16, 2:41 PM
Jury selection resumes after break

Former President Trump is back at the defense table as court resumes after the lunch break.

While on break, Trump shared on his social media platform a newspaper opinion piece calling his former attorney Michael Cohen a "serial perjurer" and a "legal thug."

The former president, who is under a limited gag order prohibiting him from targeting witnesses in the case, did not add any comment of his own.

Apr 16, 1:24 PM
'Feelings are not facts,' prospective juror says

Defense attorney Todd Blanche finished questioning the first group of potential jurors, including asking them to think about their social media usage and whether it affects their opinion of Trump.

Blanche asked a man born in Mexico who became a U.S. citizen when Trump was president if that would color his jury experience.

"I think the media and the opinions of my Facebook friends are inconsequential to this trial," the man said. "Feelings are not facts."

A woman who had said she had been living in a WiFi-free lake house for much of February and March said she didn't know much about the case, but she knew about Trump's policies. She said she had "very little agreement policy-wise" with Trump, but told Blanche she "didn't sleep last night" because she was thinking so hard about fairness and impartiality.

"You want your client to have a fair shake. I will do my level-headed best to make sure that happens," she said.

This part of the day clearly interested Trump. He turned his body in the direction of the jury box, shifting his gaze from his lawyer to the people who may sit in judgment of him.

Judge Juan Merchan subsequently recessed the court for a lunch break.

Apr 16, 1:14 PM
Prospective jurors asked how they see Trump

What do you make of Trump?

In answering that question from attorneys, prospective jurors are painting a portrait of the man seated at the defendant's table -- complete with his complexities and his merits.

"President Trump speaks his mind," said one juror, a young black woman who teaches at a charter school. "And I'd rather that than someone who's in office who you don't know what they're thinking."

"He walks into a room, and he sets people off -- one way or another," the juror said. "I find that really interesting. Really -- this one guy can do all of this. 'Wow' -- that's what I think."

Trump smirked when another prospective juror said, "He stirs the pot."

"He speaks his mind," she said. "You can't judge him because he speaks his mind."

Apr 16, 12:56 PM
'I find him fascinating,' prospective juror says of Trump

Trump attorney Todd Blanche sought to "test" jury candidates on their assurances that his client would "get a fair shake" as he began his questioning of the first group of prospective jurors.

"This isn't a baseball game," Blanche said, referring to a sports reference Assistant District Attorney Josh Steinglass had made during his questioning of jurors. "This is extraordinarily serious."

Blanche pressed jurors on their opinion of Trump, asking each of them whether they harbored any views about him in any capacity -- political or otherwise.

"If we were sitting in a bar, I'd be able to tell you," said the bookseller from the Upper West Side. But in the courtroom, he continued, that opinion has "absolutely no bearing on the case."

"I walk in here, and he's a defendant," he said. "That's all he is."

When another juror indicated that her awareness of Trump comes in part through the lens of her gender -- "I'm a female," she said -- Blanche asked her to elaborate.

"I know that there have been opinions on how he doesn't treat females correctly, stuff like that," she said. "I honestly don't know the story. So I don't have a view on it."

Another juror, an older male, drew laughter from courtroom when he said Trump "makes things interesting."

"I find him fascinating. He walks into a room, and he sets people off," the juror said. "I find that really interesting."

"Um, all right," Blanche said. "Thank you."

Apr 16, 12:35 PM
Defense begins its questioning of prospective jurors

Assistant District Attorney Josh Steinglass has finished questioning the current group of prospective jurors, with defense attorney Todd Blanche now beginning his questions.

Steinglass wrapped up his questioning by asking the prospective jurors to "look inside yourselves" to make certain they could return a guilty verdict against the former president.

"Bottom line is, there are people who for a variety of reasons feel uncomfortable about returning a verdict of guilty in a criminal case," Steinglass said. He sought to make sure these prospective jurors could do it.

"If we do prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, you have to be able to come back in here after deliberations, look the defendant in the eye," Steinglass said. "Look at the defendant and take a look inside yourselves. Will you be able to render a verdict of guilty?"

Trump appeared to be looking at the prospective jurors in the jury box as they each answered "Yes" to Steinglass's question. Trump tilted his head once or twice as they were answering.

Apr 16, 12:25 PM
'I'm going to listen to all the facts,' juror tells court

Under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass, prospective jurors agreed to weigh the evidence before them and nothing else -- vowing to set aside any personal feelings toward the former president or outside influences, in order to deliver a fair verdict.

"The particulars of this case -- it doesn't really have anything to do with my political inclinations," said the IT professional who earlier elicited a smile from Trump. "I can judge this case on the merits."

"I'm going to listen to all the facts," one woman said.

A retired MTA official who lives in the Lower East Side pledged to "give this man a fair shake." She described the judicial system as "great," but added that it could "use some tweaking in some places."

Trump, meanwhile, has been craning his neck, trying to look past his attorney Todd Blanche to get a view of the jurors as they field questions from Steinglass.

Apr 16, 12:15 PM
'I'm not 100% sure I could be fair,' says juror who is excused

A woman who works for New York City told the court, "I'm a public servant and I've built my entire career trying to serve the city I live in and I see this as an extension of that," as individual questioning of prospective jurors continued.

She had signaled she had strong views about campaign finance, but said "I don't believe so" when Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass asked whether that would affect her ability to judge the case fairly.

Earlier, a self-employed woman who has lived on the Upper East Side for 25 years let out an audible sigh.

She had reached the part of the questionnaire that asked whether she can decide the case solely on the evidence and whether she had strong beliefs about Trump that would inhibit her from being fair.

"I'm not 100% sure I could be fair," the woman said, and was excused.

When a school teacher from Harlem who is in her late 20s answered the same question, she spoke about the 2020 election.

"There was a divide in the country and I can't ignore that," she said. "However, I never equated that to one individual." She remained in the jury pool.

Apr 16, 12:07 PM
Lawyer asks for 'honest answers' as individual questioning begins

Jury selection is moving into a new phase with lawyers beginning the individual questioning of prospective jurors who made it through Judge Merchan's initial cuts.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass, up first, reminded prospective jurors that the case is not a referendum on their politics.

"Really give us the most honest answers you can," Steinglass said. "No one is suggesting you can't be a fair juror because you've heard of Donald Trump." He added, "We don't expect you to have been living under a rock for the last eight years or the last 30 years."

Steinglass first asked whether anyone felt like the district attorney's office had to prove more than the law requires "because of who he is."

Not a single hand went up.

"I think the job of the jury is to understand what's facts," one woman said. "I don't think it matters what my political views are. We listen to the facts of the case."

Trump is engaged with some of the responses at times, and at other times he leans back in his chair with his eyelids heavy.

Apr 16, 11:56 AM
Excused juror says jury pool's attitudes seem 'pretty even'

A prospective juror who went through questioning but was ultimately excused from the case told ABC News outside the courthouse that she didn't like the former president, but that it was important he get a fair trial.

"I don't like him, I don't approve of what he did as president," said Kara McGee, when asked by ABC News about her feelings on Trump. "But the right to a fair trial is extremely important. And if this would serve to uphold that, then that would be my priority."

McGee was excused from the case because of scheduling conflicts with her job.

"No matter what you think about someone as a person, or what other things they may have done, what he is on trial for is a very specific thing that even he deserves the right to a fair trial," she said.

Asked about the sentiment of the other prospective jurors on their opinions of Trump, McGee said it "seemed pretty even, surprisingly."

"I thought because this is Manhattan it might be a little bit more liberal, but there were a number of people who said 'Yes, I listen to Fox, I watch Fox, I have been on Trump mailing lists in the past,'" she said. "So not really leaning towards one side or the other, that I can tell."

"You got a sense that people were really trying to put anything that they had brought to this aside, and step in and do their civic duty," she said. "And that people really were being honest."

Apr 16, 11:41 AM
Prospective juror who read 'Art of the Deal' gets a smile from Trump

Several more prospective jurors have moved on to the next round of the screening process after some were excused after saying they could not serve impartially.

Among those who remain following the initial questionnaire are a senior living professional from the Upper West Side, a native Mexican who became a U.S. citizen in 2017, a corporate lawyer who lives in Chelsea, and a Disney employee.

A twice-married man who lives in Battery Park earned a tight smile from former President Trump when he said he had read some of his books, including "The Art of the Deal." He said he read that book, as well as "How to be Rich" and a third title that he couldn't quite remember, prompting a chuckle from Trump.

The man said his daughter was the victim of a violent sexual assault that he described as "traumatic," but he said it left him with a "generally favorable view of the legal system."

He said that relatives on his wife's side lobby and fundraise for the Republican Party, and that he followed Trump on Twitter during his presidency.

"I don't think there's anything that would prevent me from being a fair and impartial juror," the man said. "I feel that no one is above the law."

He said, however, that he "would be lying" if he said he would promise not to discuss the case "to some degree" with his wife. When the judge said he could say nothing of substance, the man replied, "That would be tough."

Apr 16, 10:27 AM
Questioning of prospective jurors resumes

A prospective juror who was feeling under the weather was excused before jury selection resumed this morning.

The proceedings resumed when Judge Merchan returned to the bench after a 15-minute absence, which he said was prompted by a few tardy prospective jurors.

The judge said that one prospective juror was experiencing flu-like symptoms and asked to be removed from consideration. The parties did not object.

As the prospective jurors filed in, Trump appeared to be motionless in his seat, staring straight ahead.

Questioning of the jurors has resumed, with one prospective juror -- a finance professional -- being excused after he said his "unconscious bias" might prevent him from being an impartial juror.

Apr 16, 10:12 AM
DA files formal request to hold Trump in contempt

The Manhattan district attorney's office has filed its formal request to hold former President Trump in contempt over a series of recent social media posts that, among other things, call witnesses Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels "sleaze bags."

Prosecutors said yesterday that three of Trump's social media posts this month "plainly violate" Judge Merchan's limited gag order because they target known witnesses who will testify at the trial.

"And defendant's violations were knowing and willful -- indeed, they are the latest in what this Court has already recognized as a deliberate strategy to impede this criminal trial," prosecutors wrote in Tuesday's filing. "To be sure, defendant has loudly and repeatedly complained that the order is unlawful, in both court filings and other public statements. But no court has agreed with his objections, and a defendant's mere disagreement with a court's order is no defense to criminal contempt."

Defense attorneys have insisted Trump was responding to "repeated, salacious, demon attacks" by Daniels and Cohen.

The judge has scheduled a hearing on the matter next Tuesday.

Apr 16, 10:00 AM
Trump seated at defense table as court gets underway

Former President Trump has reclaimed his seat at the defendant's table, Judge Juan Merchan is back on the bench -- and the second day of the criminal trial of the former president is underway.

Trump greeted court officers upon arrival, mouthing to one, "How are you?" as he made his way down the aisle accompanied by lawyers Todd Blanche, Susan Necheles and Emil Bove.

Trump is once again seated between Blanche and Bove.

The three men appeared to be in and out of conversation as they awaited the judge, with Trump periodically looking down at the desk or at the monitor in front of him.

Apr 16, 9:52 AM
Trump says Cohen payments were 'legal expense'

Former President Trump, addressing reporters on his way into court, defended the way payments were made to his former attorney Michael Cohen, pushing back on the crux of the DA's case that they were improperly labeled as legal expenses.

"I was paying a lawyer and I marked it down as a legal expense, some accountant," Trump said. "I didn't know. That's exactly what it was."

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has accused Trump of improperly labeling the money as legal expenses to Cohen in order to hide that the funds were to repay hush money paid to Stormy Daniels to boost Trump's electoral prospects.

"Legal expense -- that's what you're supposed to call it," Trump said.

"This is a trial that should never happen, it should have been thrown out," he said.

Apr 16, 9:00 AM
Trump arrives at courthouse

Former President Trump has arrived at the courthouse for the second day of jury selection.

Unlike Monday when a small group of supporters and protesters greeted the former president, there were essentially none at the courthouse this morning.

Apr 16, 8:24 AM
Jury selection to continue on Day 2 of proceedings

Jury selection will continue today on Day 2 of former President Trump's hush money trial.

Attorneys on Monday began the process of narrowing down the first group of 96 juror prospects, but none were seated by the end of the day.

Attorneys today will continue their questioning of the remaining juror prospects from that group, with a new group of prospective jurors scheduled to arrive in court this morning.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Man sets himself on fire outside courthouse where Trump is on trial

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- A man set himself on fire in a park across the street from the New York City courthouse where former President Donald Trump is on trial.

The man, Maxwell Azzarello, was badly burned and taken to a hospital in critical condition, officials said.

Trump was inside the downtown Manhattan courthouse at the time and was made aware of the fire outside, sources told ABC News.

The NYPD said there were no threats to public safety but the NYPD Bomb Squad was sweeping the area out of an abundance of caution.

Azzarello took pamphlets out of his backpack and threw them around the park before pulling out a canister, pouring a liquid on himself and lighting himself on fire, Jeffrey Maddrey, NYPD's chief of department, said at a news conference.

He eventually fell to the ground and civilians, police and court officers ran into the park to try to extinguish the blaze, Maddrey said.

"He doused himself and threw these pamphlets across the park ... and immediately just lit himself on fire," one witness told ABC News.

The witness said the flames "were just massive immediately."

"Pretty horrific thing to see," he said.

The pamphlets appeared to be "propaganda-based," officials said.

Officials described Azzarello as a "conspiracy theorist."

Azzarello is from St. Augustine, Florida, and arrived in New York earlier in the week, officials said. It appears he acted alone, officials said.

"We’re very concerned," Maddrey said. He said the NYPD will review security protocol because of the "gravity of the event going on," referring to the Trump trial.

Trump is facing felony charges related to a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. It marks the first time in history that a former U.S. president has been tried on criminal charges.

The trial began on Monday with jury selection. The full jury panel was selected by midday Friday.

Opening statements will take place Monday.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 for free, confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


What made the preacher’s wife kill her husband?

ABC

(SELMER, Tenn.) -- On March 22, 2006, minister Matthew Winkler was found dead, shot in the back in his Selmer, Tennessee, home.

Winkler’s wife, Mary, and the couple’s three children were missing in the aftermath of the grisly discovery, and there was growing concern that the family had been kidnapped.

So, when 24 hours after Matthew Winkler’s death a gray minivan matching the description of the Winklers’ missing vehicle was spotted in Orange Beach, Alabama, 400 miles from the family’s home, police officers stopped the van and approached the vehicle with guns drawn.

In the minivan, they found Mary Winkler and her three daughters.

Local law enforcement escorted the children out of the minivan and ran a search of the vehicle. A shotgun was found in the trunk of the minivan and Mary Winkler was brought in for questioning.


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In that moment, Mary Winkler went from being a potential kidnapping victim to a suspect in the murder of her husband. According to Jason Whitlock, an Orange Beach police officer, Winkler was stoic and didn’t ask any questions.

“She got out and she never asked why she was stopped, why there were officers pointing guns at her or anything,” Whitlock said. “She really made no expression on her face. And she was detained.”

A “20/20” episode airing Friday, April 19, at 9 p.m. ET and streaming on Hulu the next day features new footage of Mary Winkler’s arrest and a case that brought national attention to a small town in Tennessee.

Stan Stabler, then a corporal with the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation, questioned Mary Winkler but kept wondering why Winkler would drive her girls hundreds of miles away from their home.

“This is my last time to be with them,” Winkler said. “I just want to be with them before they had bad days. Have a happy day.”

According to Stabler, Winkler was very subdued and did not disclose much detail about what happened the night her husband was killed. After two hours of questioning, Winkler admitted she was holding the gun but said she neither pulled the trigger nor remembered doing so.

Winkler implied her motive behind killing her husband had to do with the way he treated her.

“I love him dearly but, gosh, he could just nail me in the ground,” she said. “I have nerves now and I have self-esteem. And so my ugly came out.”

In her police interview, Mary Winkler described her husband as a good man but seemed to imply she had thought about killing him in the past. When asked by Stabler, “You thought about doing it before?” Mary replied, “it’s crossed minds.” “I’ve been battling it, not to do that, forever and I don’t know why,” Winkler said.

On March 25, 2006, Winkler waived her right to an extradition hearing and returned to Selmer. She was held in McNairy County Jail and faced charges of first-degree murder.


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The small town of Selmer, Tennessee, was now at the center of a high-profile trial, with media converging from all over the country to cover the Mary Winkler case. The town was on edge and people wondered why Mary Winkler killed her preacher husband.Mary Winkler’s sisters told ABC News they saw a change in her once she got married.

“I don’t remember hearing her laugh,” Tabatha Freeman, Mary’s sister, said. “She was not a happy person.”

In recounting seeing a bruise on Mary, her sister Amanda Miller said, “I didn’t say anything cause, I didn’t know how to,” Amanda Miller, Mary’s sister, said. “If I was to say, ‘Who gave that to you?’ and that would make her mad, I wouldn’t see her again.”

And Mary Winkler’s father, Clark Freeman, who also claimed to have seen bruises on Mary, said she wasn’t the Mary that he knew.

“One day I confronted her. I said, ‘Mary Carol you are coming off as a very abused woman, very battered,’” Freeman said. “Mary Carol would hang her head and say, ‘No, everything is all right.’”


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“And several times, I talked seriously to her about leaving him,” Freeman said. “And she just did not want to.”

As investigators dug deeper into the Winklers' lives, they came to believe that Matthew’s killing may have been about money.

Mary Winkler became entangled in an alleged “lottery scam,” according to investigators. Scammers would send an email or letter to the so-called winner with a fraudulent check worth thousands of dollars. In these scams, the recipient is usually instructed to pay taxes and fees before they are eligible to receive a bogus lump-sum payment.

Prosecutors say that Mary Winkler never paid the required “fees.” Instead, they claim she cashed the counterfeit checks and, when the bank learned the funds were not available and the checks would not clear, ultimately owed more than $16,000. Investigators argue that’s when Mary plotted to cover her alleged losses.

Investigators allege that Winkler then began writing checks from one bank to cover checks at another bank, a practice known as “check-kiting.”

“She knew that she didn’t have the funds in the bank to cover the charges,” John Mehr, retired Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Supervisor, said. “And that is an illegal act.”

According to investigators, Mary Winkler went to great lengths to hide her financial woes. They say she opened a personal account out of town in her name only, changed her mailing address to a P.O. Box and tried to remove Matthew’s name from one of the bank accounts.

On April 9, 2007, the murder trial began with the prosecution pushing for a first-degree murder conviction. Mary Winkler testified in her own defense.

The prosecution argued Mary Winkler killed her husband to cover up her alleged financial schemes. But when it was the defense's turn, Mary testified that Matthew was the one who ordered all of the bank deposits.Although investigators believe that the money was the motive in this case, they never charged Mary with any financial crimes.

Mary testified at length about her relationship with her husband. “He threatened me with a shotgun many times,” Mary Winkler testified. “Putting it in my face. He told me, if I ever talked back to him, that he would cut me into a million pieces.”

District Attorney Walt Freeland told ABC News, "There was no indication from any of the people interviewed that Mary had ever disclosed it to them as a friend or it never came out about any physical abuse. She described Matthew as being a fine man and there was never a hint of any abuse."

Mary Winkler’s testimony of alleged abuse then shifted to what she described as unnatural sex acts. On the stand, Winkler was asked to pull out a white platform heel and a wig that she alleged Matthew would make her wear during sex.

“When they brought out the shoe and the wig, and put those on the witness stand, there was a gasp in the courtroom. It was just a moment in this case, I think, that everything turned,” Jamey Tucker, a local reporter covering the trial, said. “Hearing the preacher’s wife accuse her dead husband of all these things that were not allowed in the Churches of Christ congregations. These were sins.”

On April 18, 2007, the jury convicted Mary Winkler of voluntary manslaughter. She was sentenced to 3 to 6 years in prison and, with time already served, Mary would spend only one more week in jail and 60 days in a mental health facility.

During Mary's sentencing, Matthew Winkler’s mother, Diane, denied Mary’s claims that her son was abusive and confronted her about the abuse allegations. “The monster you have painted for the world to see I don’t think that monster existed,” Diane Winkler said. “There’s been no remorse from you. You’ve never told your girls you’re sorry. Don’t you think you at least owe them that? You’ve never told us you’re sorry. I think you at least owe us that.”

During her detention, Mary Winkler’s three daughters were living with Matthew’s parents. Mary had been allowed supervised visitations, but Matthew’s parents filed a petition for the adoption of the children and termination of Mary’s parental rights.

Following the verdict, Mary Winkler was locked in a battle to regain custody of her daughters. Winkler appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” saying she agreed to the interview in order to speak out for those in similar situations to what she claimed she experienced with Matthew, and to express the importance of getting her girls back.

In 2008, Mary Winkler and Matthew Winkler's parents, Dan and Diane, reached an informal agreement out of court, giving her custody of her three daughters.

A few years later, Mary sat down for one more exclusive interview with a local television station to reveal a setback in her life.

“I had found out that Mary had been diagnosed with MS, multiple sclerosis,” Janice Broach, a local reporter, said.

It has been 17 years since Mary Winkler killed her husband and she now lives a quiet life with her daughters. ABC News correspondent John Quinones reached out to Mary and says she told him she doesn’t want to talk about what happened all those years ago.

“We’ve moved on,” Winkler said. “I’m busy taking care of my three daughters.”

Marc Dorian, Tami Sheheri and Taigi Smith contributed to this report.
 

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Five big takeaways from Day 3 of Trump's hush money trial

Former President Donald Trump, flanked by attorneys Todd Blanche and Emil Bove, arrives at Manhattan criminal court with his legal team as jury selection continues in New York, NY on Thursday, April 18, 2024. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

(NEW YORK) -- Twelve jurors have been seated in the historic criminal hush money trial of former President Donald Trump.

After a setback in the morning resulting in the dismissal of two jurors who were seated on Tuesday, lawyers for both sides quickly exhausted their strikes Thursday and landed on a jury of seven men and five women to sit in judgment of the former president.

Jury selection is scheduled to resume on Friday to find the remaining five alternate jurors for the case.

Opening statements are expected as early as Monday.

Here are the five top takeaways from Day 3 of the trial:

Twelve jurors, one alternate selected after three days

A full jury of 12 members was seated late Thursday, in addition to one alternate juror.

"We have our jury," Judge Merchan said.

A breakdown of the jurors is as follows:

Juror No. 1: Male, in Sales [Foreperson]

Juror No. 2: Male, Investment Banker

Juror No. 3: Male, Attorney

Juror No. 4: Male, Security Engineer

Juror No. 5: Female, Teacher

Juror No. 6: Female, Software Engineer

Juror No. 7: Male, Attorney

Juror No. 8: Male, Retired Wealth Manager

Juror No. 9: Female, Speech Therapist

Juror No. 10: Male, works for Eyewear Company

Juror No. 11: Female, Product Development Manager

Juror No. 12: Female, Physical Therapist

Alternate No. 1: Female, Analyst for Asset Manager

Trump hears differing views of his personality

Former President Trump, sitting at the defense table, spent the afternoon listening to opposing reviews of his presidency and character.

First, a female juror who was seated for the trial bluntly said, "I don't like his persona," when asked if she has any strong opinions about him.

"The way he presents himself in public ... he is just very selfish and self-serving," the juror said. "So, I don't really appreciate that in any public servant. I don't know him as a person ... but just how he is in public, and how he carries himself in public, it's not my cup of tea."

Trump seemed to be leaning forward listening carefully to her answer, at times fidgeting. He leaned back and crossed his arms when she finished.

Then, a male prospective juror took the mic and said he found Trump "pretty amazing."

"He was a businessman in New York. He forged his way," the prospective juror said. "He kind of made history ... I'm impressed with that."

Trump leaned forward again, listening to this new answer.

"I started as an entrepreneur as well ... made a lot of things happen," the prospective juror said. "Just like he has."

A lifelong New Yorker who works in law enforcement, he said that his love of hockey also made him feel warmly toward Trump.

"As a wannabe hockey player, I still thank him for fixing that Wollman Rink that nobody could fix," he said of the ice skating rink in Central Park that Trump had refurbished in the 1980s.

The male juror did not make it onto the jury but the female one did. Trump was asked about her as he left the courtroom on Thursday.

"The juror called you selfish. How does that make you feel?" a reporter asked, but Trump didn't respond.

Two jurors had to be replaced

Court began with a rocky start Thursday morning after Judge Merchan said the court received a call from originally-seated Juror No. 2, who conveyed that "after sleeping on it overnight, she had concerns" about serving on the case.

She told Merchan she "definitely has concerns now" regarding what has been reported about her publicly. She said she received questions about her identity after colleagues and family said she may have been identified.

"I don't believe at this point that I can be fair and unbiased," the juror said, who was ultimately dismissed.

Another juror was excused after prosecutors expressed concerns about a past incident involving removing political posters and an alleged fraud related to his wife.

Prosecutors again accuse Trump of violating limited gag order

On Thursday, prosecutors accused Trump of more violations of the limited gag order in the case.

Since they last mentioned the issue earlier this week, Trump violated the gag order seven more times, prosecutors claimed.

"It's ridiculous, it has to stop," they said. "We are asking you to hold the defendant in contempt."

Prosecutors indicated they could seek harsher penalties than just fines, saying they are still "considering their options."

Trump attorney Emile Bove pushed back, saying the posts "don't establish there were any willful violations."

A hearing on the issue is set for next week.

Citing concerns, prosecutors mum on identity of first witnesses

Prosecutors are keeping their cards close regarding who the first witnesses called at trial will be.

When defense attorney Todd Blanche requested the names of the first three state witnesses, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass declined to provide the name of the first planned witnesses following opening statements.

"Mr. Trump has been tweeting about the witnesses," Steinglass said. "We are not telling you who the witnesses are."

Blanche attempted to ease that concern by vowing that the former president would not post about the likely witnesses.

"I don't think you can make that representation," Judge Merchan said.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Twenty-five years after Columbine, survivors say they're still haunted by the attack

Craig Scott said he survived the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999, in Littleton, Colorado, by hiding under desk in the library. (ABC News)

(NEW YORK) -- The epicenter of the Columbine High School mass shooting was the library, where Craig Scott was studying for a biology test on April 20, 1999. Scott, then 16, said he had just sat down next to his friend, Matt Kechter, when his life turned upside down.

This week marks 25 years since two seniors at the Colorado high school committed one of the most infamous school shootings in American history, killing 12 students and a teacher. The shooting left 21 others with gunshot wounds and three with injuries suffered in the ensuing chaos.

Now, at age 41, Scott told ABC News that he still vividly recalls the horror and the carnage he witnessed that day while hiding under a desk in the library "paralyzed with fear" as the two gunmen were just inches away.

"Some people were begging for their life. And [the gunmen] treated it like it was a game and seemingly having fun doing it, and just totally disconnected with the life that they were robbing," Scott said.

"They came over to where I was," Scott continued. "They saw my friend, Isaiah (Shoels). At my school, Isaiah was one of the very few African American students. One of them called the other one over and started to call Isaiah racial slurs. They tried to drag him out from under the table. And they shot and killed Isaiah, shot and killed my friend, Matt. They left me under there. I thought I was going to die."

By some miracle, Scott said, he got out safely, covered in the blood of another injured classmate whom he helped escape, only to learn his own sister, 17-year-old Rachel Joy Scott, was the first victim slain in the rampage.

Also killed were Daniel Rohrbough, 15; Kyle Velasquez, 16; Steven Curnow, 14; Cassie Bernall, 17; Lauren Townsend, 18; John Tomlin, 17; Kelly Fleming, 16; Daniel Mauser, 15; Corey DePooter, 17; Dave Sanders, 47; and 16-year-old Kechter and 18-year-old Shoels.

The shooters took their own lives in the library that day, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said.

415 killed in school shootings since Columbine

At the time, the massacre in the suburban Denver suburb of Littleton was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. There had only been a few of note before it. The 1979 shooting at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego left two dead and nine wounded; A 1989 shooting at another Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California, left five dead and 32 wounded. Two were killed and 25 were injured in the 1998 Thurston High School shooting in Springfield, Oregon.

The only other tandem school shooters in U.S. history were a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old who killed four classmates and a teacher in 1998 at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas. The pair were tried and convicted as juveniles and were released from prison when they turned 21.

The Columbine shooting wasn't eclipsed until nearly eight years later when on April 16, 2007, a 23-year-old student fatally shot 32 people at Virginia Tech -- the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Like the Columbine shooters, the Virginia Tech shooter died by suicide.

Since the Columbine attack, 415 people have been killed in school shootings as of April 2, 2024, and 907 have been wounded, according to an ABC News review of the Gun Violence Archive, a website that tracks all shootings in the United States. Fifty-five of the attacks were mass shootings, which the Gun Violence Archive defines as four or more people injured or killed, not including the perpetrator.

In 1999, Columbine was among six school shootings in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive. In 2024 alone, there have already been 47 shootings at U.S. schools as of April 2, including one on Jan. 4, 2024, that left a student dead and seven people injured, including the principal, at Perry High School in Iowa.

"I truly believe that it was the beginning of the 24/7 news cycle. And it was brought into the living rooms," Frank DeAngelis, who was the principal at Columbine High School at the time of the massacre, said of why that attack has left an indelible mark on the nation.

"And what really haunts me a little bit is thinking that we're still talking about Columbine to the fact that when there is another school shooting ... they make references to 'another Columbine attack,'" the 69-year-old DeAngelis, who retired in 2014 after 35 years as a teacher and school administrator, told ABC News.

But DeAngelis said that while each new school shooting immediately brings him back to the Columbine attack, there have been an incalculable number of lives saved since the mass shooting because of a dramatic shift in training and preparedness.

"Back in 1999 ... the only drills we did at Columbine were fire drills," DeAngelis said.

Named in honor of the retired principal, the Frank DeAngelis Center for Community Safety in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, has provided active-shooter training to more than 170,000 school resource officers, SWAT team members and other law enforcement officers, paramedics and even Navy SEALs, said DeAngelis.

"The police, at that time, had something called 'secure the perimeter' where they had to wait for the SWAT team to get there," DeAngelis said. "So now we're training single officers to go in. And it really is a center that prepares to stop these things from happening."

DeAngelis added, "We are doing some things differently that are saving lives. But we can't give up hope because there are perpetrators out there who are still planning these events. And we just can't accept it as a way of life."

'The last time I would see her'

Craig Scott said that on the day of the attack, he made himself and his sister, Rachel, late for school, recounting that "I had to have my hair just perfect."

"We got into this fight," Scott said. "She pulled up and actually dropped me at the front of the school and then went to go park even though I was making us late. I got out and slammed the car door shut on her and walked in the school. I had no idea that that would be the last time I would see her."

He said about a month before his sister was slain, she wrote an essay for a class titled, "My Ethics, My Codes of Life." He said he adopted it as his mantra for life.

"She talked about showing mercy and forgiveness to people who had wronged her," he said. "She said, 'I have this idea that if one person will go out of their way to show compassion, it will start a chain reaction of the same and people will never know how far a little bit of kindness can go.'"

Around the same time his sister was writing the essay, the two shooters -- 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold -- were making videotapes in the basement of one of their homes, talking about starting a revolution and creating a chain reaction, according to investigators. In the aftermath of the attack, Jefferson County officials allowed some of the victims' families and several media outlets to view the video of the killers planning their attack. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said it destroyed the tapes in 2011.

For the past 25 years, Scott said he has traveled the country sharing his sister's story. He said he plans to launch a new podcast on Saturday, "Pain into Purpose" to tell inspirational stories.

"The biggest factors of my healing were my family, my faith, but also forgiveness," Scott said. "For a couple years, I used to fantasize about killing the shooters. I used to hate them," Scott said. "As I was beginning to travel and share my sister's story, I was meeting people who had been through far worse than I had been and they weren't these angry, bitter people. They were very free and open. And someone told me once, it was very helpful, that 'forgiveness is like setting a prisoner free and finding out that prisoner is you.'"

He said that after his sister's death, his family was going through her journals and belongings. They found on the back of a chest of drawers, an outline Rachel made of her hands when she was 13.

"In the center of one of the hands, she said, 'These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott, and will someday touch millions of people's hearts.' She had a deep belief that she would have a positive impact and she has," Scott said. "When I survived, I think I immediately felt this deep sense that God had a purpose for me. Whether people have that belief or not, that belief helped me and it's helped me since to believe that there was a deep reason for why this has happened. And I was able to see through the tragedy to purpose."

'Trauma sticks inside our bodies'

Another Columbine survivor, Krista Hanley, told ABC News that she is still coping with the trauma and diagnosed PTSD.

"Every time there's a shooting it brings back the trauma. I think that trauma sticks inside of our bodies. We feel it viscerally," Hanley said.

Hanley said she also has dealt with a lot of survivor's guilt over the last 25 years.

"I even have guilt now that I'm going through life, that I'm able to make decisions to buy a home, to do all these things and my peers, their lives were cut short and they never had those opportunities," Hanley said. "And so there's an incredible amount of guilt that I think comes with surviving. And again, all we can do is live our lives."

She recalled being in the lunch line in the school cafeteria on the day of the attack.

"It was three days after the prom, so I'm sure that prom was on my mind, and I still had my red painted fingernails from prom," Hanley said. "Someone ran through the room ... yelling, 'Get down!' We didn't know about school shootings in 1999. It was not something that I thought of immediately. I thought it was a senior prank. That was something we did in 1999."

She said that at some point, "something shifted in the energy of that cafeteria, and everyone bolted away from the windows that were toward the parking lot and started going up the stairs."

Still on the ground, Hanley said she and some friends scooted around a corner and found themselves in a little hallway she previously didn't know existed.

"We stayed in this hallway a few minutes and then this door opened. To me, it felt like this magic door opened. One of the teachers had opened the door into the auditorium and we went in the auditorium," she said.

From the auditorium, she and other students with her went to the second floor and out a side door.

"We ended up having to climb over a chain link fence, and then we walked through this parking lot that's in the park behind the school," Hanley said. "One person we knew had a cell phone, you know one of those big cell phones. He was graciously letting everyone call people who wanted to call."

Hanley said she called her mother, who was a teacher at a school near Columbine that was on lockdown. But then the phone went dead. She said she eventually walked to a restaurant about a mile away where a parent gave her a ride home.

"I spent the rest of the day glued to the television at home alone, watching things unfold at my school," Hanley said.

In the two-and-a-half decades since the attack, Hanley said she has tried therapy, yoga, acupuncture and massage to help get over her trauma.

After a person she knew became one of 12 people killed in a 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, she said she faced "a turning point."

"I felt so helpless to be with my friends, who had lost their best friend. And again to have survived, and then to not be able to do anything or say the right words or address this, that it just is devastating," Hanley said.

She said the experience motivated her to become an advocate and she co-founded the self-defense organization We Are Safer Together.

"It's directly related, of course, to my experience being a survivor of a mass shooting and sort of the subsequent lack of safety that I've felt in my life and in the world," Hanley said. "I took a few self-defense classes in the mid-2000s and they changed my life. Like it really helped my healing process. Learning self-defense, it really helped me feel safer and feel like I could actually … go through the world with more empowerment."

She said her organization focuses on adaptive self-defense for people with disabilities, marginalized people and those "who may not feel like the self-defense world is actually serving them." She said she is teaching more than just physical self-defense, but also delves into active shooter training, emergency preparedness and emergency planning for businesses and groups.

Hanley said part of her motivation is driven by having "very little hope that things will change."

"Things should have changed after Columbine. Columbine should have been the last shooting in America, the last school shooting. And then especially after Newtown," Hanley said, referring to the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that killed 26 people, including 20 children. "That hit me so hard, and the fact that we're just continuing to let this happen."

'My worst nightmare becomes a reality'

DeAngelis said he has dealt with "a lot of survivor's guilt" and credits years of counseling for helping him cope. He said the teacher who died in the Columbine attack, Dave Sanders, likely saved his life.

The former principal said he was in his office getting ready to offer a student-teacher a full-time contract when his secretary informed him there had been reports of gunfire and pipe bombs in the school.

"As I come out of my office, my worst nightmare becomes a reality because the gunman is coming towards me and I remember it's like he just stopped and the barrel of the shotgun looked about the size of a cannon," DeAngelis said. "I kept thinking what it was going to feel like to have a bullet pierce my body."

Instead of retreating, DeAngelis said he ran toward the killer just as 20 to 25 girls were coming out of a locker room to go to a physical education class.

"I knew if I got the girls into the gymnasium, I would be able to put them in a safe place," he said.

As DeAngelis sprinted toward the killer, Sanders was evacuating students up a staircase and distracted the gunman, who fatally shot him.

At the same time, DeAngelis said he took the moment to try to open the gymnasium but found it locked.

"We hear the sounds of the shots getting louder and he (the gunman) is getting ready to come around the corner," DeAngelis said. "I literally had 30 to 35 keys on a keyring. I reached in my suit pocket. The first key I stick in the door opened it or we wouldn't be having this conversation."

He added, "There's a sign on the highway, and every time I see it, it's the Dave Sanders Memorial, I just point, saying, thank you."

DeAngelis, a devout Catholic, said he believes the only reason he survived the shooting is because "God's got a plan."

He said a few years ago, something happened that "really hit home for me." He was attending a championship game for the Columbine High School softball team, when a woman approached him. He said the woman, now a mother, was one of the girls he let into the gymnasium on the day of the attack.

"She turns me around and said, 'Mr. D, I don't know how to tell you this. I just want to thank you for finding the key because if you didn't, that girl in right field wouldn't be playing in this game because that's my daughter.' And that hit pretty hard," he said.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Columbia University protest: Over 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators, including Rep. Omar's daughter, arrested

WABC-TV

(NEW YORK) -- More than 100 pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University were arrested Thursday afternoon and an on-campus tent encampment was removed after the school's president gave the New York Police Department the green light to clear the protesters, officials said.

The demonstrators had occupied Columbia's south lawn for over 30 hours "in violation of the university's rules" and did not leave despite "numerous warnings," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said.

Columbia President Nemat "Minouche" Shafik announced in a letter to the Columbia community Thursday that she has authorized the New York Police Department to clear demonstrators from campus, writing, "This morning, I had to make a decision that I hoped would never be necessary."

"I regret that all of these attempts to resolve the situation were rejected by the students involved. As a result, NYPD officers are now on campus and the process of clearing the encampment is underway," Shafik said.

She added, "I have always said that the safety of our community was my top priority and that we needed to preserve an environment where everyone could learn in a supportive context."

Columbia also released a letter to the NYPD authorizing the action.

Around 1:30 p.m. ET, police moved in and arrested dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters, placing their hands in zip ties and escorting them to buses. Other protesters chanted "Shame!" and "Let them go."

Some 108 people were arrested for trespass without incident, officials said. Among those, two were also arrested for obstruction of governmental administration, officials said.

"Students have the right to free speech but do not have the right to violate university policies and disrupt learning on campus," Adams told reporters during a press briefing Thursday evening.

Isra Hirsi, the daughter of Rep. Ilhan Omar, was among those arrested for trespass and will be getting a summons, officials said.

Earlier Thursday, Hirsi said she was among several students suspended from Columbia University for participating in pro-Palestinian protests -- a development that emerged a day after her mother and other members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce grilled the school's president about growing antisemitism on the campus.

Hirsi, the daughter of the Minnesota representative, one of three Muslims in Congress, said on the social media platform X that she was one of three students suspended by the Ivy League college due to her involvement in the protests.

Hirsi, who described herself as an organizer for the Columbia University Apartheid Divest, a coalition of campus student organizations, said in a post on X that in her three years at Barnard College, one of four Columbia undergraduate colleges, "I have never been reprimanded or received any disciplinary warnings."

"I just received notice that i am 1 of 3 students suspended for standing in solidarity with Palestinians facing a genocide," Hirsi wrote in a series of posts on X.

In another post, she wrote, "those of us in Gaza Solidarity Encampment will not be intimidated. we will stand resolute until our demands are met."

The Apartheid Divest coalition, according to its website, is demanding the university "divest its stocks, funds, and endowment from companies that profit from the State of Israel's violations of international law and Palestinian human rights through its ongoing system of settler colonialism, military occupation, and apartheid."

Columbia University did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment.

Protesters opposed to Israel's war in Gaza continued demonstrating on campus Thursday, including some who have set up a tent encampment on the South Lawn of the upper Manhattan campus.

The demonstrations at Columbia also included pro-Israel supporters, who waved Israeli flags and held signs reading, "#End Jew Hatred."

As demonstrators on both sides chanted and clanged pots, a U-Haul truck passed by with a sign demanding that Shafik, who was appointed president of the school in July 2023, resign from her position.

University officials sent out a warning Wednesday to student demonstrators camping on campus to clear out by 9 p.m. Wednesday or else the school would "take the interim measure of suspending you."

"This notice is a final request from the University that you immediately cease your participation in this encampment and leave the campus," the school's letter to the protesters said.

At least five people were arrested Wednesday night at the college for disorderly conduct, according to the NYPD.

On Wednesday, Shafik was questioned for hours by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce about antisemitism on the Columbia campus.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., chair of the committee, opened the hearing by calling some elite U.S. colleges "hotbeds of antisemitism and hate."

"Columbia University is one of the worst of those hotbeds and we've seen too little, far too late done to counter that and protect students and staff," Foxx said. "Columbia stands guilty of gross negligence at best and, at worst, has become a platform for those supporting terrorism and violence against the Jewish people."

In her opening statement, Shafik told the committee that Columbia "strives to be a community free of discrimination and hate in all forms and we condemn the antisemitism that is so pervasive today."

She said a "major challenge" has been reconciling free speech with the rights of Jewish students to go to school in an environment free of discrimination and harassment.

"Regrettably, the events of Oct. 7 brought to the fore an undercurrent of antisemitism that is a major challenge and like many other universities Columbia has seen a rise in antisemitic incidents," Shafik said.

During the hearing, Rep. Omar asked Shafik if she had specifically seen anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim demonstrations at Columbia.

In one of several moments in which Shafik appeared to struggle to answer members' questions, Shafik said she had not seen those types of demonstrations.

Omar asked, "I wanted to get a clarification, earlier one of my colleagues asked you, have you seen anti-Muslim protests on campus?"

Shafik responded, "I have seen -- we have had pro-Israeli demonstrations on campus."

Omar asked again if Shafik had seen protests against Muslims, Arabs or Palestinians.

Shafik answered, "No, I have not."

Omar continued, "Have you seen one against Jewish people? Have you seen a protest saying we are against Jewish people?"

Shafik replied, "No."

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Maryland teen accused of threatening school shooting after 'memoir' raises alarms

Montgomery Cty Maryland Police Department

(NEW YORK) -- A Maryland teenager has been arrested on a charge of threatening mass violence after investigators say they uncovered evidence that he made plans to carry out a shooting at a Montgomery County school.

Eighteen-year-old Alex Ye, of Rockville, whose legal name is Andrea Ye, was arrested on Wednesday after law enforcement was alerted to a 129-page "memoir" he allegedly authored that included descriptions of shooting up both a high school and elementary school, court records show.

While Ye had previously described the writings as a piece of fiction -- and it featured a disclaimer as such, including that it doesn't "represent the author's beliefs" -- a witness with whom Ye shared the writings contacted authorities in early March because the witness said the writings bore "striking similarities" to Ye, according to the court documents.

The witness also believed the writings indicated Ye was prepared to carry out a mass shooting imminently, the court documents state, and Ye later described the writings as "his memoir" when speaking with law enforcement.

Authorities determined, based on their investigation, that the writings appear to contain "portions of fictional and non-fictional qualities," according to the court records.

Court documents state that the witness told police that Ye's "memoir" was about "a transgender main character" named "James Wang" who was "being bullied in school and other issues that [the witness] believed were directly from Ye's life and not indicative of fiction."

Police said in court records that Ye's sex is female but he uses male pronouns.

The writings included detailed descriptions of how the character would carry out a shooting, saying he would "cherry pick the classrooms that are the easiest targets."

The character allegedly states in Ye's writings, "I have also considered shooting up my former elementary school because little kids make easier targets."

Law enforcement said they found concerning social media posts and internet searches by Ye, reviewed as part of the investigation, including him allegedly querying "gun range near me," descriptions of an AR-15 and the phrase "But, I do recognize that my plan is fully unethical. It's selfish and evil."

Chat records obtained by police show Ye discussing thoughts of shooting up his school with another online user in September. In December, Ye allegedly wrote to another user, "My homicidal ideation has been getting worse lately to the point I might act on it eventually," adding in another message that month, "I'd want to kill a lot of people or it wouldn't be worth it."

There's no allegation in the documents that Ye had possession of any firearms leading up to the time of his arrest.

Ye has not yet entered a plea and is being held at the Montgomery County Central Processing Unit where he is awaiting a bond hearing.

An attorney for him could not immediately be reached for comment.

Montgomery County Public Schools said that while Ye is an active student at Wootton High School in Rockville, he has been attending classes through a virtual program and hasn't "physically attended" school since late 2022.

Ye has a lengthy recent history of receiving inpatient care for apparent mental health issues including openly expressed thoughts of homicidal and suicidal ideation and what he described as a history of suffering abuse, the court records state. The witness who first alerted law enforcement to what police also called Ye's "manifesto" knew him from when they were both in inpatient treatment at a psychiatric care facility.

According to the court documents, Ye was previously hospitalized "for threatening to 'shoot up a school'" as well as other issues.

Ye was evaluated at his home and then hospitalized again in March, shortly after the police investigation began, as part of an emergency evaluation petition, the court records show. The hospital then raised an alarm with school and law enforcement officials because of "the threat posed by Ye."

A counselor who had worked with Ye told authorities that he "would express violent thoughts such as shooting up the school" and "would smile while saying it," according to court documents.

The counselor also said Ye was "patient and okay with his plan being the 'long game' and wanted to be famous from this event."

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San Francisco sues Oakland over proposed airport name change

onurdongel/Getty Images

(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The city of San Francisco is suing the nearby city of Oakland over the latter's plan to modify its airport name to include "San Francisco," arguing that the proposed name infringes on its trademark and would "cause confusion and chaos."

San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit on Thursday, a week after the Port of Oakland Board of Commissioners preliminarily approved a plan to rename Metropolitan Oakland International Airport to San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport.

The lawsuit alleges that the proposed name would infringe on San Francisco International Airport's (SFO) trademark.

"We had hoped Oakland would come to its senses, but their refusal to collaborate on an acceptable alternative name leaves us no choice but to file a lawsuit to protect SFO's trademark," Chiu said in a statement. "This new name will cause confusion and chaos for travelers, which will damage the travel industry for the entire region."

Chiu said that at least one airline has already started using the modified Oakland airport name, "indicating that SFO has already suffered economic harm."

"We want to see the entire Bay Area thrive as a tourist destination and expand our offerings to visitors, but the renaming is not a legal or practical way to go about it," he said.

In a statement to ABC News, the Port of Oakland denied that the proposed renaming infringes on SFO's trademark.

"We will vigorously defend our right to claim our spot on the San Francisco Bay," the Port of Oakland said. "We are standing up for Oakland and our East Bay community."

The Port of Oakland announced in a press release on March 29 that it was considering changing the airport's name from Metropolitan Oakland International Airport to San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport. The city of San Francisco claimed in its lawsuit that the city of Oakland notified the SFO airport director of the proposed name change only 30 minutes prior to issuing the release.

The Oakland Board of Port Commissioners voted unanimously to modify the airport's name on April 11 in a first reading vote. A second reading is scheduled for May 9, at which point the Port Commission would give its final approval and staff would then move forward with the formal renaming, according to the Port of Oakland.

"This will boost inbound travelers' geographic awareness of the airport by highlighting the airport's location on the San Francisco Bay," Port Commission President Barbara Leslie said in a statement following the April 11 vote. "This name will make it clear that OAK is the closest major airport, for 4.1 million people, three national laboratories, the top public university in the country, and California's Wine Country."

The airport code OAK and visual brand would not change, the Port of Oakland said.

The city of San Francisco said it has raised concerns to the city of Oakland that the proposed name will likely lead to confusion among consumers but that Oakland has "refused to engage with the City for the three weeks since it announced its renaming plan," the lawsuit stated.

"The proposed renaming of Oakland International Airport will have a detrimental impact on the passenger experience, creating confusion and frustration for travelers, especially those from foreign markets," SFO airport director Ivar Satero said in a statement. "For these reasons, we support this legal challenge and urge the Port of Oakland to find a solution that puts all Bay Area airport customers first."

San Francisco has owned the U.S. federal trademark registration for the mark "San Francisco International Airport" with the first date of use in commerce in 1954, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief to immediately stop the use of the proposed name and orders declaring that Oakland has infringed on SFO's mark and requiring the city to destroy any materials containing the new name. The lawsuit is also seeking unspecified damages and fees.

There were 11.2 million passengers who came through Oakland International Airport in 2023, while San Francisco International Airport saw 50 million passengers last year.

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Judge rejects Trump effort to pause Jan. 6 civil lawsuits while criminal case ongoing

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(NEW YORK) -- A federal judge has rejected an effort by former President Donald Trump to pause several civil lawsuits filed against him seeking to hold him accountable for his actions leading up to the Jan. 6 riot, according to a newly posted ruling.

Trump had asked D.C. District Judge Amit Mehta to stay proceedings in the lawsuits -- brought by several members of Congress and police officers who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6 -- while his federal criminal case brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith was ongoing.

Trump's attorneys reasoned that defending himself from the lawsuits could improperly impact his defense strategy in his criminal case, which Mehta rejected in his ruling Thursday afternoon.

Mehta wrote that while, "it is true in a sense—both cases center on the former President’s actions in the lead up to and on January 6, 2021... [Trump ] overstates the significance of that factual overlap in the present posture of these matters."

Trump's team also cited the Supreme Court's upcoming arguments regarding the former president's claims of immunity from prosecution in his criminal case, which they argue could impact how Mehta ultimately rules on Trump's immunity claims for what he believes are "official acts" outlined in the civil lawsuits.

"...There is no reason to wait on the Supreme Court’s decision," Mehta responded. "This court is unlikely to make an immunity determination before the end of the Supreme Court’s term. Thus, if the Court’s ruling on criminal immunity is relevant to the outcome here, it can easily be applied."

Trump faces four felony charges, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction, in the indictment brought by Smith last year, in which prosecutors detailed what they said was his plot to remain in power after his electoral loss to President Joe Biden. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has denied any wrongdoing.

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Trader Joe's recalls basil amid salmonella outbreak, investigation

Via FDA

(NEW YORK) -- Trader Joe's shoppers with an affinity for homemade pesto, Caprese salad or other dishes that utilize fresh basil should check their fridge for a newly recalled plastic clamshell container of the organic herb.

"Do not eat Infinite Herbs-brand organic basil sold at Trader Joe's stores in 29 states and D.C.," the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned on Wednesday amid an ongoing salmonella investigation being carried out in tandem with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This product should no longer be for sale at Trader Joe's and is likely past shelf-life. If you already bought organic basil from Trader Joe's and removed it from the packaging or froze it and cannot tell if it was Infinite Herbs-brand, do not eat or use it and throw it away," the FDA urged consumers.

The popular grocer announced a voluntary recall of its 2.5-ounce plastic clamshell containers of organic basil on April 17 "as the product may have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella."

The product is marked with the UPC code 8 18042 02147 7 and was sold between Feb. 1 and April 6, 2024, in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

"If you purchased the product during this date range, please discard it or return it to any Trader Joe's for a full refund," the retailer said in its recall announcement.

Those with questions about the recall can contact Trader Joe's customer relations at (626) 599-3817 or by emailing the company through the product feedback form on its site.

Trader Joe's did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for additional comment.

As of time of publication, based on epidemiological information collected by CDC, 12 people have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium reported in seven states and linked to the Infinite Herbs organic basil.

"Seven of eight cases with information available reported exposure to fresh organic basil purchased from Trader Joe's before becoming ill," the FDA stated this week. "Additionally, traceback data collected by FDA determined that Infinite Herbs, LLC, in Miami, FL, was the supplier of the 2.5-oz packages of organic basil sold at Trader Joe's stores."

According to the CDC, most people infected with salmonella experience diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps, and symptoms typically begin six hours to six days after swallowing the bacteria.

Most people recover without treatment after four to seven days. But some -- especially children younger than 5 years and adults 65 years and older, or people with weakened immune systems -- may experience more severe illnesses that require medical treatment or hospitalization, the CDC states.

According to the FDA, Infinite Herbs, LLC is cooperating with the agency's investigation and agreed to initiate the voluntary recall.

In a post on the company's website, Infinite Herbs CEO Gregorio Berliavsky wrote, "I am heartbroken at the thought that any item we sold may have caused illness or discomfort. We simply will not rest until we can once again be confident in the safety of this product."

He continued, "All farms we source from must comply with U.S. food safety regulations, meet buyer requirements, and submit documentation verifying food safety practices. We sourced the recalled basil from a single farm, which is no longer in production, and we are working with the farmer to conduct an internal investigation of the food safety practices. Through this investigation, our goal is to determine the cause of this recall and apply measures to prevent it from happening again."

"Your safety and satisfaction are of utmost importance to us, and we deeply regret any concerns this may have caused," he added.

According to Berliavsky, customers impacted by the recall may contact the company's customer service team at 305-599-9255 (extension 148) Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET, or via email at customer_service@infiniteherbs.com.

The FDA and CDC investigation is ongoing to determine the source of contamination and whether additional products are linked to illnesses. The FDA said it would post updates via its online advisory.

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USC valedictorian speaks out after school canceled her commencement speech

USC Valedictorian Asna Tabassum. Via ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The University of Southern California's campus has been in the spotlight after school administrators canceled a student valedictorian's commencement speech due to safety concerns over her pro-Palestinian views.

Asna Tabassum, a first-generation South Asian-American Muslim, was scheduled to give a speech on May 10. School administrators, however, decided to cancel her speech citing safety concerns.

"The intensity of feelings, fueled by both social media and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, has grown to include many voices outside of USC and has escalated to the point of creating substantial risks relating to security and disruption at commencement," Andrew T. Guzman, the school's provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said in a letter to students on Monday.

"This decision is not only necessary to maintain the safety of our campus and students, but is consistent with the fundamental legal obligation – including the expectations of federal regulators – that universities act to protect students and keep our campus community safe," he added.

Tabassum has openly criticized the decision and several Muslim rights groups have also called out the school. Pro-Israel associations, however, have commended the school for its decision.

The college senior spoke about the situation with ABC News Live's Phil Lipof on Wednesday.

ABC NEWS LIVE: I want to start with this statement that the college provost said, in part, that "The intensity of the feelings around allowing you to speak escalated to the point of creating substantial risk relating to security and disruption at the commencement, pointing out harassment and violence seen on other campuses."

But I know you had a meeting with them. I'm wondering, did they tell you anything specific, a specific threat that was made against you, or have you had any specific threats made against you?

ASNA TABASSUM: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me. I will have to say no. Nothing specific was offered to me, no specific details regarding security threats or safety concerns were offered to me.

Another person created this [site], we should point out you did not create it, you posted it to a site [that] some believe contains anti-Semitic views, really some violent anti-Semitic views, including calling for the abolishment of the State of Israel.

So do you think that's part of it? And do you believe the State of Israel should be abolished?

TABASSUM: So when it comes to abolishing the State of Israel, I do want to point out the rest of the link, and so the very next sentence talks about the peaceful coexistence of Arabs and Jews.

And I think it points to what I've been saying since the beginning of this issue, which is that I'm committed to human equality and to human rights. And so this link, I encourage people to look at it in its entirety rather than looking at one specific example.

For example, it's discussing both the one-state and the two-state solution and it's discussing the history of the region. And I think that there's important information for people to understand on their own and come to their own conclusions about.

When it comes to abolishing the state of Israel. I will say I want to abolish apartheid.

ABC NEWS LIVE: If there is one-state and two-state in there, you could see a two-state solution. I think the abolishment of Israel is what bothered a lot of people. But you would advocate for a two-state solution, so Israel would still exist, and then there would be a Palestinian state? Is that what I'm hearing?

TABASSUM: So no, I'm not necessarily committing to a one-state or a two-state solution. I'm simply saying that this information on the website offered information from multiple perspectives, and so my endorsing of any one single perspective is unfounded.

ABC NEWS LIVE: OK. So USC has said this is not meant to infringe upon your free speech. Do you feel like it's doing just that?

TABASSUM: So in its most technical terms, the ability to give a speech at commencement is a privilege, right?

It's not necessarily free speech, but what I will say that I expressed my views and I express my views online, and the hatred that was leveled at me because of myself expressing these views I think ultimately was part of the reason why USC caved in.

And so whether free speech in its most technical terms is being debated here is maybe up for debate. But I will say speech is an issue and speech is being stifled.

ABC NEWS LIVE: What were you going to speak about? There's a lot of talk about what you posted, that link, and what your beliefs may be. Were you going to talk about that at graduation, or were you going to give a different kind of speech?

TABASSUM: So, the valedictorian honor is ultimately a unifying honor, right? It's emblematic of USC's unifying values. And I think I take that to heart.

I wanted my speech to be in the genre of a valedictory speech, and so that being said, I wanted to impart a message of hope. I also wanted to impart a message of responsibility.

We are given a wonderful set of higher education. We have been given the knowledge of learning how to learn. And so I wanted to encourage my peers to learn about the world and come to their own conclusions and then act to change the world in the ways that they see fit.

And so ultimately, taking in my role as valedictorian, I wanted to be a unifying voice for all students, and that was preemptively taken away from me.

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