NY Judge Quashes Trump Subpoena of ‘Stormy’ Documentary Records for Hush Money Trial

Catherine Yang
By Catherine Yang
April 5, 2024Judiciary
NY Judge Quashes Trump Subpoena of ‘Stormy’ Documentary Records for Hush Money Trial
Former President Donald Trump speaks to guests at a rally in Green Bay, Wis., on April 2, 2024. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan on April 5 granted a motion to quash former President Donald Trump’s subpoena of evidence related to NBC Universal’s “Stormy” documentary for his upcoming trial.

President Trump is being charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records, and his defense attorneys filed a subpoena on March 11 for all materials related to the documentary. On March 20, NBC filed a motion to quash the subpoena.

The documentary features Stephanie Gregory Clifford, better known by her stage name Stormy Daniels, who alleged an affair with President Trump and is a key witness in the case. Prosecutors allege the charges against President Trump are tied to a payment scheme to influence the 2016 elections, and included an alleged bribe to Ms. Clifford.

The defense had requested documents related to the premiere, release date, editing, promotion, and marketing of the documentary, as well as any form of compensation to Ms. Clifford relating to the documentary including rights and agreements. They had also requested any agreements between either NBC or Ms. Clifford with the prosecutors or Michael Cohen, another key witness in the case.

The judge found the subpoena “too broad.”

“In the instant matter, the Defendant seeks ‘all’ documents, including but not limited to vague and overbroad requests for ‘the trial in People v. Trump,'” the order reads.

Documentary Timing

The defense argued there was an agreement between NBC Universal and Ms. Clifford around the release of the documentary, timed to coincide with the start of the trial.

This would prejudice President Trump while maximizing the network and a key witness’s financial interests, they argued and sought the documents as evidence.

The network rebutted this, arguing that these claims were “devoid of factual support or corroboration,” the judge wrote. An executive had stated that Ms. Clifford had no authority over the content or release of the documentary.

“Because Defendant’s claims are purely speculative and unsupported, his subpoena and the demands therein are the very definition of a fishing expedition,” the judge wrote.

The judge added that even if he found the request not speculative, the defense’s request was so broad as to seek “unfettered access” to the media’s materials, in violation of civil laws.

April 15 Trial

More rulings from Justice Merchan are imminent as the trial is fast approaching.

Trial is set to begin with jury selection on April 15, marking the first time in American history a former president has been criminally tried.

Originally scheduled for March 25, the judge scheduled a modest delay to the trial date after a last-minute and more-than-expected 100,000 pages of documents were produced to the defense last month.

The defense has objected to this new scheduling, however, arguing that the trial cannot begin with several other issues still unresolved. In recent weeks, the defense has filed several motions and pre-motion letters pointing to, among other things, a presidential immunity defense that is set to be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, and new evidence they argue warrants the judge’s recusal.

Last year, the defense argued that the judge should recuse himself from the case because of a perceived conflict of interest. The judge ruled against the motion, finding no grounds for recusal.

Defense attorneys have renewed the request, arguing there is new evidence that shows a conflict of interest. Justice Merchan’s daughter heads a marketing firm that has advertised its client base includes Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Vice President Kamala Harris, both political opponents of President Trump who have been outspoken critics of him.

But recent Federal Election Commission filings revealed that multiple payments have been made to the judge’s daughter’s firm by groups that have been fundraising with messages related to this case, and defense attorneys argued the judge now has a commercial interest in the upcoming trial.

“The trial in this case will benefit Authentic financially by providing its clients more fodder for fundraising, Authentic will make more money by assisting with those communications, and Your Honor’s daughter will continue to earn money from these developments by virtue of her senior role at Authentic,” they wrote in a one-page pre-motion letter.

From The Epoch Times

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