Uh Oh, the Internet Is Reading the Tea Leaves on the Trump Jury Notes

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

We’re just two days into jury deliberations in Donald Trump’s hush-money trial, but America is already on edge—analyzing and guessing what could be going through the heads of the 12 jurors who will determine the ex-president’s fate.

With the jurors’ identities concealed, and their deliberations shrouded in secrecy until they reach a verdict, the rest of us are left to fill the information vacuum with speculation about what we do know: the jurors already have a few questions for Judge Juan Merchan.

The first came on Wednesday when they asked Merchan if they could re-hear some of the seven-week trial’s witness testimony and if he could repeat a portion of his jury instructions to them. More questions arrived Thursday morning, with jurors asking for more of the same.

Trump Jurors Already Have Several Questions as Deliberations Begin

Those queries are likely proof that the seven male and five female jurors, all New Yorkers, are taking their high-profile jury duty seriously. Still, as their questions stack up, and the waiting game intensifies, some of us are losing our darn minds... and resorting to jokes.

The Babylon Bee, the right-wing copycat of the satire news site The Onion, ran an “article” Thursday with the headline, “Jury Passes Note To Judge Asking To Review 14 Seasons Of The Apprentice.”

“All of them, please. Every episode,” jurors demanded in the fake note, according to the Bee. “We’re at a stalemate here, and there’s really nothing to do here in this room. Please have someone provide us with all 14 seasons of The Apprentice, several 2-liters of Mountain Dew, and some bags of Doritos. And a large tub of Red Vines, please. This is very important to our deliberations.”

Others poked fun at jurors’ lengthy deliberation time, including the right-wing influencer “NotKennyRogers.” He posted to X, “BREAKING: The Trump jury has sent a note to Judge Merchan: At what point will someone actually explain to us what we’re supposed to find him guilty of?”

Standup comic and Fox News Radio host Jimmy Failla also chimed in with a dig at jurors, assuming they must be inherently biased against Trump.

“Another Juror Note: Apparently they want to know how much a CNN Contributorship (sic) will pay if they ignore the facts and find Trump guilty,” he quipped.

Also joining in on the fun was Ryan Teague Beckwith, a journalist at MSNBC, who wrote: “Jury note just said ‘judge merchan check here [ ] if you think Juror #8 is cute.’” As did the New York criminal defense attorney Robert Osuna, who wrote, “Now comes the fun part in People v Trump. Jury notes. Can we have read back of direct and cross of every witness who testified please?”

While the jokes have been aplenty, there’s also been legitimate analysis of the jurors’ actions during deliberations. An MSNBC reporter in the courtroom noted Thursday that, after jurors asked Merchan to repeat his juror instructions and he obliged, each juror appeared to be listening intently and taking notes.

That note-taking is particularly important in a New York trial where, unlike most states, judges are barred from providing a written copy of juror instructions to jurors in the deliberation room.

Jurors had spent more than ten hours deliberating by Thursday afternoon. Some legal experts have speculated that the longer deliberations continue, the more likely the panel is to convict Trump on at least some of his 34 criminal counts.

Kristy Greenberg, a former federal prosecutor, posted to X that Wednesday’s deliberations ending with a string of questions—and not a verdict—“was a good day for Trump’s prosecutors.”

That’s because, according to Greenberg, the jurors’ questions were in line with how prosecutors hoped deliberations would go—that is, analyzing damning testimony specifically from the former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, who was key to Trump’s alleged plan to buy and kill negative stories about him, including that of his alleged affair with Stormy Daniels.

Still, other experts, like the former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance, have warned that reading too much into the slivers of info given by jurors through their notes can be a dangerous game.

“These requests for testimony track the road map prosecutors gave jurors for deciding if Michael Cohen could be believed,” Vance told Salon. She agreed with Greenberg that the juror requests are “a cautiously optimistic sign that jurors are working through the evidence in ways that the government proposed.”

However, she also warned, “It’s dangerous to read the tea leaves.”

Trump hasn’t changed his tone online since the deliberations began. He’s unleashed a firestorm of posts to Truth Social to complain about the trial, Merchan, and the judge’s gag order, and to endorse GOP candidates running this fall.

“Very unfair that I am not being allowed to Campaign,” he posted Thursday afternoon. “Crooked Joe Biden Witch Hunt. Third World Country!!!”

If convicted, Trump could be sentenced to up to four years in prison even before his other trio of criminal trials—in Miami, Washington, and Atlanta—even begin.

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