Judge will not delay Trump's hush-money trial over presidential immunity claim

UPI
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

April 3 (UPI) -- The New York judge, presiding over former President Donald Trump's latest attempt to dismiss the hush-money case against him, has rejected a motion to delay the trial's start over Trump's immunity claim.

Judge Juan Merchan denied the motion Wednesday, saying Trump waited too long to request that the trial be delayed until after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the former president's immunity in another case.

"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 Sept. 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."

Trump requested for the eighth time that the trial -- which is slated to begin April 15 -- be adjourned until after the Supreme Court rules on whether he is protected from criminal prosecution. Trump is accused of ordering a "hush money" payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

In his filing, Trump also cited publicity and media coverage during the trial that could prejudice a jury. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg argued that Trump should not be rewarded with an adjournment over the attention he is drawing to the case.

"Defendant's own incessant rhetoric is generating significant publicity, and it would be perverse to reward defendant with an adjournment based on media attention he is actively seeking," Bragg wrote.

Bragg noted that it is Trump's eighth request for adjournment and that the court rejected another request for adjournment over pretrial publicity in February. He argued the latest request was a transparent delay tactic that the former president could not believe would work.

Trump's request cited a poll commissioned by his team and conducted privately to suggest the case's public attention has prejudiced the jury pool. Braggs said this is the only new information "flagged" in the latest request.

Trump also repeated a complaint about comments Bragg made while campaigning for the district attorney's office in 2019. The comments have already been considered by the court.

Bragg also commented on Trump's continued incendiary rhetoric about the case and those involved, even with a gag order in place. Trump has attacked the district attorney, the judge and the judge's daughter in speeches and social media posts over the past week. He has also held to the claim that the case, like the others against him, amount to election interference.

The gag order was issued against Trump in part over concern that potential witnesses may be threatened and concern over the safety of others involved in the case.

"Defendant simply cannot have it both ways: complaining about the prejudicial effect of pretrial publicity, while seeking to pollute the jury pool himself by making baseless and inflammatory accusations about this trial, specific witnesses, individual prosecutors and the court itself," Bragg wrote.

Trump faces 34 counts on charges related to $130,000 in hush-money payments to Daniels. He is accused of falsifying records in an attempt to hide the scheme while running for president in 2016. He has pleaded not guilty.

Trump is slated to be named the Republican nominee for president at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in July.