Judge Denies Trump’s 3rd Appeal to Delay Start of ‘Hush Money’ Trial

An appeals court judge has rejected former President Donald Trump’s latest attempt to delay the start of his criminal trial in New York, marking the third such failed attempt this week.

Associate Justice Ellen Gesmer issued an order on April 10, denying President Trump’s request for a stay of proceedings that cited the alleged “unconstitutional effects” of New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan’s recent rulings that the former president’s attorneys said prevent him from getting a fair trial.

Justice Merchan imposed a gag order on President Trump on March 26, then expanded it on April 1 to prohibit the former president from making comments about the judge’s and the district attorney’s family members.

The gag order came after President Trump accused Justice Merchan of bias and corruption and later alleged that his daughter, Loren Merchan, has a partisan interest in the case because she leads a political marketing firm that has represented President Trump’s political opponents, receiving millions from them.

It was later reported that Lara Merchan, the wife of Justice Merchan, once worked for New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the massive $350 million civil fraud case against the former president, a development that further fanned claims of bias and calls for the judge’s recusal.

During an earlier hearing, Trump attorney Emil Bove argued that the trial should be delayed because Justice Merchan, who is overseeing the case, has not yet ruled on the Trump legal team’s request for his recusal.

“We are scheduled to begin trial under circumstances that will violate President Trump‘s rights,” Mr. Bove said at the hearing before Justice Ellen Gesmer at a mid-level state appeals court called the Appellate Division.

Steven Wu, a lawyer for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office, said that the former president’s lawyers were too late with bringing their requests to postpone the trial.

“There is a powerful public interest in ensuring that this criminal trial go forward,” Mr. Wu said.

The trial, which will be the first criminal trial of a former president, is set to begin on April 15.

The case charges President Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records, which prosecutors allege is tied to a “hush money” payment scheme to kill unfavorable news stories during the 2016 presidential election cycle.

The Epoch Times has reached out to President Trump’s attorney with a request for comment on the latest ruling.

It’s unclear whether Trump attorneys plan to file another appeal.

More Details

Earlier this week, President Trump twice attempted to delay the trial while he challenges the gag order and seeks a venue change.

A panel of appellate judges will consider President Trump’s appeals but judges ruled in emergency hearings on April 8, April 9, and now April 10 that these pending appeals will not pause the upcoming trial.

The April 8 rejection was tied to a change of venue request. Defense attorneys had argued that President Trump would not be able to seat an impartial jury in heavily Democrat-leaning Manhattan. The judge found that jurors’ personal political beliefs are not disqualifying factors unless they are unable to act without bias.

The April 9 ruling was related to Justice Merchan’s gag order. President Trump’s legal team has argued that he has a strong First Amendment right to make public statements about what he believes is a politically motivated prosecution.

In the case, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged President Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records, alleging a scheme to influence the 2016 election with payments meant to bury unfavorable news coverage of an alleged affair with adult film performer Stormy Daniels, which the former president has denied.

On April 10, President Trump shared a photograph on social media of a document bearing the heading “Official Statement of Stormy Daniels” that’s dated Jan. 30, 2018, and bears her signature.

“I am not denying this affair because it was paid ‘hush money’ as has been reported in overseas owned tabloids,” the statement reads. “I am denying this affair because it never happened.”

The trial was initially scheduled to start on March 25 but has been delayed until at least mid-April because of a dispute over the large amount of discovery materials produced by prosecutors.

Catherine Yang and Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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