Judge Rejects Trump’s Request to Delay ‘Hush Money’ Trial

Catherine Yang
By Catherine Yang
April 3, 2024Judiciary
The judge overseeing former President Donald Trump's criminal case in New York rejected his last-minute bid to delay the start of the trial until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on President Trump's presidential immunity claim.

New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan on April 3 denied former President Donald Trump’s latest request to delay his upcoming trial, based on a presidential immunity defense that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court 10 days after the Manhattan trial begins.

“Defendant’s motion is DENIED in its entirety as untimely,” the judge wrote. “The Court declines to consider whether the doctrine of presidential immunity precludes the introduction of evidence of purported official presidential acts in a criminal proceeding.”

The defense also argued that the prosecution’s evidence related to President Trump’s official acts should be excluded based on presidential immunity, which the judge rejected.

In Manhattan, the district attorney is prosecuting President Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records, alleging a payment scheme to kill unfavorable news stories to influence the 2016 elections.

Trial will begin with jury selection on April 15, and in recent weeks the defense has made several requests to delay the trial, citing among other things a late discovery production of more than 100,000 pages.

On March 25, the judge delayed trial until April 15 because of the late evidence produced, but has criticized the defense for “repeatedly” seeking delays in recent orders.

The defense has another motion to delay the trial still before the judge, this one arguing that the sheer publicity surrounding the case would prevent President Trump from being able to seat an impartial jury.


The judge explained he decided against delaying the trial based on “timeliness,” describing the defense’s arguments as “excuses.”

“In reviewing the excuses proffered by the Defendant for the timing of his motion, this Court finds that they are inadequate and not convincing,” he wrote.

Justice Merchan found that the prosecutors had outlined the evidence they intended to show at trial in February, and wrote the defense should have raised the presidential immunity objections at that time, not with days to trial.

“The Defendant had ample notice that the People were in possession of, and intended to use, the various statements allegedly made by Defendant on social media, in public, and in various interviews,” the judge wrote. “He was also well aware that the defense of presidential immunity, even if unsuccessful, might be available to him.”

The judge noted that the defense had touched on presidential immunity last year in an attempt to move the case to federal court, yet did not argue it. He said the timing of the new motion “raises real questions about the sincerity and actual purpose of the motion.”

“The circumstances, viewed as a whole, test this Court’s credulity,” he wrote, finding that the defense had “myriad opportunities” to raise this defense earlier.

‘Pressure Campaign’

In arguing presidential immunity, the defense had also renewed arguments to exclude or otherwise counter evidence prosecutors intend to show regarding a “pressure campaign” they allege President Trump exerted over the star witness.

Michael Cohen, formerly a personal attorney to President Trump, had made public claims that he paid off an adult actress alleging an affair with President Trump in order to keep the story out of the news. He claimed President Trump falsified business records to pay him for these alleged bribes, and prosecutors argue that the claims and case were not brought until well after the alleged payments because of this “pressure campaign.”

The judge had rejected defense efforts to block Mr. Cohen from testifying, but the defense argued that they should be allowed to claim at trial that Mr. Cohen has never shied away from speaking about President Trump and would not have caved to the alleged “pressure.”

Presidential Immunity

Separately, special counsel Jack Smith is prosecuting President Trump on four counts of conspiracy and obstruction for his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Originally scheduled for a March trial, the case has ended up before the Supreme Court with an April 25 hearing on the defense of presidential immunity.

Last year, defense attorneys had filed a motion to dismiss the case based on presidential immunity. The motion was rejected by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan in December, and the defense appealed the decision.

An appeals panel accepted and heard the appeal on an expedited schedule, and then issued the unusual decision that the court would not allow a stay in the event of a rehearing by the appeals court. It gave President Trump a six-day deadline to seek review from the Supreme Court.

President Trump applied for a stay from the Supreme Court, which the court dismissed, instead granting the special counsel’s request to treat the application as a request for review and scheduled an April hearing.

The arguments will be limited to applications of presidential immunity as it relates to official acts in criminal prosecutions.

From The Epoch Times

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