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Facebook Comment, Later Debunked, Prompts Calls for a Mistrial for Donald Trump
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Facebook Comment, Later Debunked, Prompts Calls for a Mistrial for Donald Trump

An online troll claimed his cousin was a juror and knew the verdict ahead of time.

Donald Trump departs the courtroom after being found guilty on all 34 counts in his hush money trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 30, 2024. (Photo by Justin Lane-Pool/Getty Images)

Less than two weeks after a Manhattan jury found Donald Trump guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records, Judge Juan Merchan sent a letter to attorneys for both the prosecution and defense, highlighting the existence of a Facebook comment that purported to reveal the jury’s verdict before it was officially announced. Jurors were instructed not to reveal the case’s verdict to anyone in advance, but it is unknown whether Merchan sent the letter only out of an abundance of caution or if the court had serious concerns about the verdict being leaked.

“Today, the Court became aware of a comment that was posted on the Unified Court System’s public Facebook page and which I now bring to your attention,” Merchan wrote. The letter identified a comment—posted a day before Trump’s May 30 guilty verdict—from someone who claimed their cousin was a juror and had already told him the jury’s decision: that Trump would be convicted.

“Thank you for all your hard [work] against the MAGA crazies!” it read. “My cousin is a juror on Trumps criminal case and they’re going to convict him tomorrow according to her. Thank you 🙏 New York courts!!!!! ❤️”

The user’s claim was quickly identified as bogus and the product of online trolling, but not before it prompted widespread reactions. A number of Trump supporters, Republican politicians, and online commentators immediately called for a mistrial. “Uh oh! It looks like there was juror misconduct in the #TrumpTrial!” attorney and Townhall contributor Phil Holloway tweeted.* “We knew these jurors would not be able to avoid telling their friends and relatives that were going to get Trump. It’s time for a mistrial ‘with prejudice’ and no retrial!”

The comment in question, which has since been removed, was made on a May 20 post celebrating Associate Justice Jeffrey K. Oing on the New York State Unified Court System’s Facebook page. User Michael Anderson responded to the post, thanking the court for its hard work against Trump and his supporters and claiming that a juror had told him the verdict in advance.

The comment’s veracity was immediately called into question because of the trollish nature of the commenter’s account. On the user’s main page, which has since been made private, they describe themselves as a “professional sh-t poster,” meaning they purposefully post content intended to be provocative, absurd, or offensive. The user’s page also includes an image depicting their account being restricted and a banner reading “Facebook. Wasting peoples lives since 2004.”

Suspicions about the post’s legitimacy were confirmed when the user, copying a definition from Wikipedia, clarified that his posts were “intentionally designed to derail discussions or cause the biggest reaction with the least effort.”

Despite the comment being identified as spurious on June 7, the claim—that Trump’s verdict had been leaked in advance—continued to circulate among pro-Trump influencers. The former president himself reposted an article about the story on Truth Social two days later, adding just one word: “MISTRIAL!”

Clarification, June 11, 2024: This fact check originally identified Phil Holloway as a Fox News legal analyst. He has appeared on Fox News several times in recent months to analyze legal matters, but he is not employed by the network.

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Alex Demas is a fact checker at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in England as a financial journalist and earned his MA in Political Economy at King's College London. When not heroically combating misinformation online, Alex can be found mixing cocktails, watching his beloved soccer team Aston Villa lose a match, or attempting to pet stray cats.