Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial to commence on April 15, Judge

Former President Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial in New York will begin with jury selection on April 15, Judge Juan Merchan announced at a Monday hearing.

The new trial date comes after Merchan removed Trump’s previous March 25 trial start date earlier this month. State prosecutors agreed to the delay after federal prosecutors provided Trump over 100,000 pages of material last month that could be related to the case. Merchan initially stated in response that the trial would not commence until mid-April.

Following the hearing, Trump spoke at a brief news conference in the foyer of his Wall Street skyscraper, saying he will continue to seek a postponement in the hush money trial until after Election Day on November 5. He also stated that he wants a thorough dismissal. “I shouldn’t have a trial.”

The probable Republican presidential nominee is facing 34 criminal counts for falsifying New York business documents to conceal a $130,000 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who claims she had a sexual encounter with Trump. Trump has refuted the claim.

Trump is accused of fabricating records to conceal the true purpose of reimbursement payments to Michael Cohen, a former Trump lawyer who made the original $130,000 payment to Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election.

Donald Trump's New York hush money trial to commence on April 15, Judge

Prosecution ‘not at blame’ for late documents, judge rules

Merchan dismissed Trump’s lawyers’ assertions that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office should have secured and turned over the materials earlier. The Trump campaign argues that the entire case should be dismissed because the prosecution “actively sought to prevent President Trump from obtaining critical materials.”

At least some of the documents concern Michael Cohen, who pled guilty to federal tax and campaign finance offenses in 2018 and may be summoned by state prosecutors in the hush money investigation.

However, Merchan decided that prosecutors went “above and beyond” their responsibilities. He stated that the federal prosecutors’ office is not directed or controlled by Bragg’s office.

Trump’s team had previously stated that they would require at least a 90-day trial delay to evaluate the additional documents if Merchan did not dismiss the entire case. When that was denied on Monday, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche requested court permission to make a move to delay the trial due to pre-trial publicity. Merchan said Blanche might file the motion, but highlighted that the trial is set for April 15.

The 34 felony counts carry a maximum penalty of 136 years in jail, but legal experts think it is unrealistic, even if Trump is convicted on all counts.

Trump is also facing three other criminal charges with no set trial date: a federal and a state prosecution in Georgia over whether he illegally sought to steal the 2020 presidential election, as well as a federal case alleging that he mishandled sensitive documents. Trump has pleaded not guilty in each of his criminal matters.

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