Judge Warns Trump He Could Be Arrested for Missing Court Dates

Judge Warns Trump He Could Be Arrested for Missing Court Dates
(Left) Judge Juan M. Merchan poses in his chambers in New York on March 14, 2024. (Right) Former President Donald Trump at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on March 25, 2024. (Seth Wenig/AP Photo; Spencer Platt/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

The judge overseeing the Trump “hush-money” case on Monday warned former President Donald Trump that he could be arrested for missing court dates, although his attorney signaled that he would show up.

“If you do not show up there will be an arrest … do you understand?” Judge Juan Merchan asked President Trump, according to court reporters. “I do,” the former president replied.

According to the New York Court System, a defendant who is free on bond—like President Trump—who does not deliberately show up to court could face a “warrant for [their] arrest,” and they “will be subject to separate prosecution and separate punishment for bail jumping no matter what happens in this case. Do you understand?

The former president’s attorney, Todd Blanche, told the judge that President Trump intends to be present at his trial, in which he faces 34 counts of falsifying business records, but noted there may be an absence. The lawyer said that the former president also wants to be present at every conference during the jury selection process.

In Monday’s hearing, his lawyers requested the trial not be held on May 17 so the former president could attend his son Barron’s graduation from high school. A lawyer in the case also told the judge he wants June 3 off so he could attend his own son’s graduation.

The judge said he wasn’t prepared to rule on those requests, but he said he would be willing to adjourn for one or both days. “It really depends on how we’re doing on time and where we are in the trial,” Judge Merchan said.

The trial is scheduled to last about eight weeks, four days per week, which is likely to severely limit President Trump’s campaigning during that time. The former president has contended that the trial—and three separate cases—are a form of election interference meant to derail his 2024 presidential campaign.

The former president has said that he may hold campaign-related events in the evening, while he’s also suggested he may testify in the case. During a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, President Trump said that “I will be forced to sit” through what he described as a “show trial.” In February, he told reporters that “they want to keep me nice and busy, so I can’t campaign so hard.”

On multiple occasions, the former president’s lawyers have contended that Judge Merchan should step down from the case. They’ve accused him of bias and a conflict of interest, citing his daughter’s work as the head of a firm whose clients have included President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and other Democrats.

On Monday, the judge again denied a motion for him to recuse himself from the case and said he wouldn’t bring up the issue again until an appeals court renders its ruling on the matter.

In the case, President Trump is accused of doctoring his company’s records to hide the real reason for payments to adult film performer Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, via his former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Both Ms. Clifford and Mr. Cohen are expected to testify in the case.

President Trump pleaded not guilty last year to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. His lawyers argue the payments to Mr. Cohen were legitimate legal expenses, while they have argued that Mr. Cohen lacks credibility.

The former president’s lawyers also maintain that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee faces “real potential prejudice” in heavily Democrat-leaning Manhattan. Election data has shown that only about 12 percent of Manhattan residents voted in favor of the former president in 2020’s election.

The New York case is the first of his four criminal indictments slated to go to trial and would be the first criminal trial ever of a former president. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A day before the trial, the former president wrote on Truth Social that Judge Merchan is “conflicted” and only gave the defense “a short period of time to read and study hundreds of thousands of pages of documents that [Manhattan District Attorney] Alvin Bragg illegally hid, disguised, and held back from us.”

“Of course, and as the Judge knows, we need far more time than that,” President Trump added. “They could have started this Fake Biden Trial many years ago, not right in the middle of my campaign for President, and time would not be a problem. This is a blatant and unprecedented attack on Crooked Joe Biden’s Political Opponent.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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