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New York judge sets April 15 trial date in Trump ‘hush money’ case

March 26, 2024 10:45 AM IST

New York | judge | trial date | hush money case | US President Donald Trump | criminal trial | Trump

A New York judge has scheduled former US President Donald Trump’s hush money trial to begin on April 15, enabling his first criminal trial to begin this spring following a last-minute delay, as reported by The Hill.

Trump, who has looked to postpone all four of his criminal cases beyond the election, requested the judge toss his case over new documents recently turned over, or at least sanction Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) and postpone the trial.

However, during a hearing on Monday, Judge Juan Merchan rejected all of those requests and ruled in favour of Bragg by refusing to push the trial deeper into the campaign season, setting jury selection for April 15. “The court finds that the people have complied and continue to comply with their discovery obligations,” Merchan said.

Trump’s trial had long been scheduled to begin on Monday, but at the last minute, Bragg’s office agreed to a multi-week delay, according to The Hill. This comes after the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York turned over more than 100,000 pages of records in recent weeks.

Following this, the parties traded blame for why the documents did not come to light earlier. Rather than begin the trial on Monday, the parties instead convened to sort out the document kerfuffle. Trump attended the hearing alongside a roughly half-dozen of his lawyers, who were occasionally whispering to them but otherwise sitting stone-faced.

Moreover, he sat back in his chair for most of the hearing, looking ahead towards the judge, The Hill reported. After the hearing, Trump repeated familiar claims that Bragg’s case was brought to keep him from campaigning for the presidential elections, scheduled for November.

“This is a case that could have been brought three and a half years ago and now they’re fighting over days because they want to try to do it during the election. This is election interference. That’s all that is. Election interference,” he said.

Trump is charged in the case with 34 counts of falsifying business records over reimbursements to his then-fixer, Michael Cohen, who paid adult film star Stormy Daniels USD 130,000 just before the 2016 election to stay quiet about an alleged affair with Trump.

Trump, who has acknowledged the reimbursements but denied the affair, has pleaded not guilty, as reported by The Hill. However, Trump’s team and prosecutors, inside the courtroom, disagreed about how many new and relevant documents there were, with Trump attorney Todd Blanche claiming there were “thousands and thousands” without providing a specific number.

Assistant District Attorney Matthew Colangelo, meanwhile, estimated there were only about 300 new, relevant records. Blanche also went further, asserting that Bragg’s office was obligated to have the new documents months ago so Trump could adequately prepare his defence. Merchan condemned the notion and raised his voice at one point as he pressed Blanche to cite a singular past case supporting his position.

“If you don’t have a case right now, it is really disconcerting because the allegations the defence makes in all of your papers, about the people’s misconduct, is incredibly serious, unbelievably serious,” Merchan said.

“You’re literally accusing the Manhattan DA’s office and the people assigned to this case of prosecutorial misconduct and trying to make me complicit in it. And you don’t have a single cite to support that position?” he added. (ANI)

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Last updated on: 21st April 2024