Judge Delays Start Of Trial In Trump Hush Money Case

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In what is widely regarded as the weakest of the cases against former President Donald Trump, the judge in the Stormy Daniels hush money case has made a massive decision.

Fox News reported that after prosecutors dropped late evidence, the judge decided to delay the trial by an additional 30 days to give defense attorneys time to review the new evidence.

Judge Juan Merchan agreed to postpone the trial for 30 days and set a hearing date of March 25 to address questions about the new evidence from the Department of Justice.

“The Justice Department had notified Trump’s legal team and the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg that it planned to produce 15,000 records of potential evidence on Friday. The DOJ investigated the hush-money payment matter while Trump was president,” Fox News reported.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office said much of the material is unrelated to the state case against Trump. The federal prosecutors have already provided at least 104,000 pages of records — 74,000 of which initially went just to Bragg’s office and not to Trump’s lawyers.

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“Bragg’s office has since turned over those 74,000 pages to the defense,” it said.

The records touch on the alleged hush money payments to adult movie actress Stormy Daniels, which led to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen doing time behind bars.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said he was not opposed to giving the defense a 30 day delay to review the new evidence.

The former president’s attorneys wanted a longer delay until after the Supreme Court decided on the presidential immunity matter.

“The Court should adjourn the trial pending Supreme Court review of the scope of the presidential immunity doctrine in Trump v. United States, which is scheduled to be argued before the Supreme Court on April 25, 2024,” the motion states. It adds that the case should also be adjourned “following an evidentiary hearing outside the presence of the jury, preclude evidence of President Trump’s official acts at trial based on presidential immunity.”

Merchan said the trial was expected to last about six weeks when he set the court date.

Fox News added:

Bragg indicted Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree in April. Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Trump and his attorneys sought to have the case dismissed altogether, but Merchan denied the request last month. 

Bragg claims Trump “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.”

In 2019, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York chose not to pursue charges against Trump in connection with the payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Additionally, the Federal Election Commission concluded its investigation into the matter in 2021.

Trump’s attorneys filed the motion following the Supreme Court’s decision last week to schedule arguments on the issue of presidential immunity for April 25, with a ruling anticipated in late June. The question currently before the high court originated from Trump’s appeal in response to charges arising from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s election interference case, Fox News reported.

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“By agreeing to hear arguments on the matter, the Supreme Court has paused the Smith trial altogether. That trial was initially expected to begin on March 4 – the day before Super Tuesday,” the outlet noted further.

In requesting the high court’s review of his immunity claim, Trump’s attorneys argued, “If the prosecution of a President is upheld, such prosecutions will recur and become increasingly common, ushering in destructive cycles of recrimination.”

“Criminal prosecution, with its greater stigma and more severe penalties, imposes a far greater ‘personal vulnerability’ on the President than any civil penalty,” the filing continued. “The threat of future criminal prosecution by a politically opposed Administration will overshadow every future President’s official acts – especially the most politically controversial decisions.”

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