As former U.S. President Donald Trump appeared in New York Supreme Court on Monday for the beginning of a civil fraud trial, over 30 advocacy organizations released a letter stressing the need to protect juries in his four ongoing criminal cases.
Trump faces a total of 91 felony charges: four in the federal 2020 election case; 40 in the federal classified documents case; 34 in the New York case that stems from alleged hush money payments during the 2016 cycle; and 13 in the Georgia election case.
“Jurors — past, present, and future — are under attack from Donald Trump and those who do his bidding,” states the groups’ letter, which came just hours after the 2024 Republican front-runner’s social media tirade about the civil case that will be decided by a judge.
Trump, at an NYC courthouse, attacks the judge and prosecutors involved in his fraud case pic.twitter.com/LqjNW7x5AC
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 2, 2023
“Self-serving assaults on institutions and individuals are what Trump and his enablers do,” the letter argues. “These attacks threaten centuries-old American institutions designed by the Framers to hold to account any leader who would be king.”
The letter highlights that in early August, after a Washington, D.C. grand jury indicted Trump, he wrote on social media, “If you go after me, I will come after you.”
A few days later, he said, “No way I can get a fair trial, or even close to a fair trial, in Washington, D.C.” The letter says that “it’s hard to miss the import of this message in a jurisdiction that draws its jury pool from a population of which 45% are Black Americans.”
As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — which exclusively reported on the new letter — noted:
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has sought increased protections after Trump supporters posted personal details about the grand jury that indicted the former president, leading to angry threats and harassment.
And Willis, herself, said she’s been targeted by threats and racial slurs, forcing her to take steps to protect her daughters, father, and ex-husband.
Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee recently banned reporters and the public from identifying jurors in the trial against Trump and 18 co-defendants or disclosing other personal details about them. He also required lawyers to refer to them only as their numbers in court.
In addition to detailing examples of the ex-president and his allies’ recent attacks on juries, the letter points out that Trump claimed the 2016 and 2020 elections would be “rigged” against him, and after his loss last cycle, he spread the “Big Lie” that he won and “successfully eroded faith in democracy and elections among his followers.”
“Trump is now deploying the same, pre-judgment playbook upon the jurors and system of justice positioned to decide his fate in criminal court,” asserts the letter. “His attacks are designed to eviscerate an institution of justice inherited from English law and in existence in America before the Constitution that enshrined it. Juries protect individual freedom.”
“Trump, by undermining institutions that check both government power and lawless individuals, aims to release himself from all constraints. For this reason, his vicious attacks on juries are sure to escalate,” the letter warns, concluding with a call for all “who believe in the rule of law and the jury system” to “speak up and defend such institutions under attack.”
The letter was organized by the Not Above the Law coalition. Signatories include Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Common Cause, Free Speech for People, Government Accountability Project, Indivisible, People for the American Way, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, and Stand Up America.
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