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Donald Trump Criminal Hush Money Trial Date Set For Mid-April

Donald Trump will begin his first criminal trial on April 15, a judge ruled Monday, at the end of a contentious hearing in which he repeatedly bludgeoned the former president’s legal team for claims of prosecutorial misconduct that the judge said were unfounded, the Washington Post reports. New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan rejected Trump’s assertion that the Manhattan district attorney’s office acted improperly with regard to newly available evidence. He also insisted the trial over reimbursement of an alleged hush money payment was back on track after a delay he imposed earlier this month. Yet even as the judge signaled there was no stopping the case from moving forward on the new schedule, Trump’s lawyers said they aimed to file at least one additional motion, this time over pretrial publicity, that they hoped might push the trial back. The judge sounded very skeptical of such a motion.

The case had been set to go to trial in late March until defense lawyers said prosecutors had wrongfully withheld, until the final days of trial preparation, some 100,000 pages of potential evidence — records from a past federal investigation into Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer and a key prosecution witness. Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court in 2018 to campaign finance violations for acting on Trump’s direction in 2016 to pay an adult film actress $130,000 for her silence about an alleged sexual tryst with Trump years earlier. Trump is charged with falsifying business records related to his repayment of Cohen, classifying them as a legal rather than a campaign expense. It is one of four criminal trials Trump faces as he again runs for president, and the only one with a firm start date — albeit in the middle of the 2024 campaign. The issue of the new potential evidence was serious enough that even Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) agreed on the need for an initial delay to review the material. On March 15, Merchan complied, saying the trial would not start before mid-April. He then scheduled Monday’s hearing to discuss the matter. But after reading Bragg’s court filings explaining the issue, Merchan concluded the district attorney “is not at fault for the late production of documents from the U.S. attorney’s office.”


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