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Judge refuses to delay Trump's "hush money" trial while Supreme Court weighs presidential immunity

Trump gag order expanded in hush money case
Trump pays $175 million bond in fraud case, judge expands gag order in hush money case 03:19

Washington — The judge overseeing former President Donald Trump's criminal case in New York rejected his last-minute bid to delay the start of the trial until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on Trump's presidential immunity claim. 

Trump had asked to push back the start date for his trial, which is related to a "hush money" payment made by an attorney for Trump to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election, until after the Supreme Court rules on whether he is shielded from criminal prosecution by "presidential immunity" in another one of his criminal cases. The trial is slated to begin April 15

Manhattan Judge Juan Merchan denied the request Wednesday, saying it was "untimely" and that Trump's lawyers had months to raise the issue before the motion was filed in March. 

"This Court finds that Defendant had myriad opportunities to raise the claim of presidential immunity well before March 7, 2024," Merchan wrote. "Defendant could have done so in his omnibus motions on September 29, 2023, which were filed a mere six days before he briefed the same issue in his Federal Insurrection Matter and several months after he brought his motion for removal to federal court on May 4, 2023." 

Merchan noted in his ruling that pre-trial motions are supposed to be filed within 45 days of arraignment. Trump was arraigned in this case last April. The judge also said that the fact that Trump had waited until "a mere 17 days prior to the scheduled trial date of March 25, 2024, to file the motion, raises real questions about the sincerity and actual purpose of the motion."

Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsification of business records tied to payments reimbursing his then-attorney Michael Cohen, who had paid $130,000 to Daniels, who alleged she had an affair with Trump years earlier. Trump, who denies having an affair with Daniels, has pleaded not guilty and denies all wrongdoing.

The trial was initially set to start on March 25, but was delayed until later this month after a dispute over roughly 100,000 documents turned over by federal prosecutors. Trump's team sought to delay proceedings even further, or an outright dismissal of the case, accusing prosecutors of misconduct for failing to turn over the new tranche of documents sooner. 

At the hearing last week addressing the matter, Merchan said prosecutors "went so far above and beyond what they were required to do that really it's odd that we're even here taking this time." 

Trump has been busy defending himself in several criminal cases as he runs for the White House. 

A judge in Florida has yet to finalize a trial date for the case involving Trump's alleged mishandling of classified documents after he left the White House in 2021. His trial in Washington, D.C., in which he's accused of plotting to overturn the 2020 election, has been put on hold as the Supreme Court considers the immunity issue. He's also charged in Georgia in an election interference case. He has pleaded not guilty to all of those charges as well. 

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