Trump’s Stormy Daniels hush money trial set for March 25 in Manhattan courtroom

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

Donald Trump faces a criminal trial in the Stormy Daniels hush money case on March 25, a judge ruled Thursday as he denied Trump’s motion to dismiss entirely the case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Trump appeared before Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan in his lower Manhattan courtroom at 9:30 a.m. for the first time since making history in the same courthouse last April as the first U.S. president to appear before a judge charged with a crime.

Moments after he took the bench, Merchan denied Trump’s motion to dismiss the case. The judge also firmly rejected efforts by his attorney, Todd Blanche, to reschedule the March 25 trial to a later date, with Blanche describing it as “unfathomable” that it would take place mid-primary season and alleging “election interference.”

The defense lawyer has also complained about “millions of pages of discovery to go through” in various legal matters he’s handling for Trump.

“You knew about this case. You willingly chose to accept those cases,” the judge told Blanche.

“You proceeded at your own peril,” the judge said.

Merchan — subjected to online abuse by Trump and a torrent of death threats from his supporters — grew irritated soon into the hearing, telling Blanche to “stop interrupting me.” He estimated the trial would last six weeks.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records that allege that in 2017 he concealed a series of checks to his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to disguise that they were payback for an illegal scheme to bury negative press ahead of the 2016 election and secure his victory.

Along with having Cohen buy Daniels’ silence over an alleged tryst in 2006, Bragg alleges Trump worked to silence Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claims she had an affair with him in 2006 and 2007, and a Trump Tower doorman, who allegedly knew rumors about him fathering a child out of wedlock.

If convicted, Trump could face four years in prison. Should he win the election, he wouldn’t be able to pardon himself as it is a state case, not a federal one.

DA Bragg attended Thursday’s hearing and said he was “pleased” the trial date was locked in.

Trump complained to reporters about being “stuck” at the hearing he was not obligated to attend and said he’d figure out how to manage his clashing campaign schedule and court calendar.

“I’ll be here during the day, and I’ll be campaigning during the night,” he said.

The GOP frontrunner’s Manhattan case is ramping up as he battles numerous others. He’s facing 57 more felony counts in other courtrooms that carry significant prison time if he’s convicted.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to those charges, which stemmed from his alleged efforts to overturn President Biden’s win in 2020 and his handling of classified documents.

The stakes are just as high in Trump’s civil cases. Three weeks ago, he was ordered to pay $83.3 million to writer E. Jean Carroll, which could pale compared to a judgment expected to come down Friday in his civil fraud case. Judge Arthur Engoron is slated to rule on six claims against Trump and his former company executives, a source familiar with the timing told The News. The New York attorney general is seeking at least $370 million.

Before Thursday’s proceedings wrapped, Blanche whispered with Trump and told the court that he “is going to now spend the next two months working on this trial instead of out on the campaign trail,” which is “something that should not happen in this country.”

Merchan asked if Blanche had a legal argument to make.

“That is my legal argument,” Blanche said.

“That’s not a legal argument,” the judge said.

Before the hearing, Trump put on a bit of swagger as he entered the courtroom by elaborately giving a finger gun gesture to journalist Jeffrey Toobin, who was seated in the gallery. After the hearing, Trump winked at Toobin as he walked out.