Home » Judge Delays Trump’s Hush-Money Trial in Manhattan Until Mid-April

Judge Delays Trump’s Hush-Money Trial in Manhattan Until Mid-April

by Marko Florentino
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A New York judge on Friday delayed Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan until at least mid-April, postponing the only one of Mr. Trump’s four criminal cases that appeared set to begin.

The delay — lasting 30 days from the judge’s Friday decision — stems from the recent disclosure of more than 100,000 pages of records that may have some bearing on the case. Citing the records, Mr. Trump’s lawyers sought a 90-day delay of the trial, while the Manhattan prosecutors that brought the case proposed a postponement of up to 30 days.

The prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office, who accused the former president of covering up a sex scandal during and after his 2016 campaign, had said the extra time would allow Mr. Trump’s lawyers to review the records that recently emerged.

Mr. Trump, who recently clinched the Republican presidential nomination for the third time, was initially set to go on trial on March 25. Now, the judge in the case, Juan M. Merchan, will hold a hearing that day to determine whether the trial should be delayed further — and if so, for how long.

“There are significant questions of fact which this court must resolve,” the judge wrote, indicating that he wanted to clarify why it took so long for the records to emerge. Justice Merchan said he would “set the new trial date, if necessary,” after that hearing.

In a three-page letter order, he directed both sides to produce a “detailed timeline of the events” leading up to the recent disclosure of the records. He also sought their correspondence with the federal prosecutors who recently turned over the records, including letters, subpoenas, emails, notes and messages.

Over the last two weeks, Mr. Trump’s lawyers and the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, received the tens of thousands of pages of documents from the federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, who in 2018 investigated a hush-money payment at the center of the case against Mr. Trump. It is unclear whether any of the records contain new evidence, or other information relevant to the case.

This is just the latest delay in the former president’s many legal entanglements. Mr. Trump, who faces four criminal trials and several civil lawsuits, has succeeded in stalling many of the cases.

A criminal case against Mr. Trump in Washington, where he is accused of plotting to overturn the 2020 election results, was initially supposed to go to trial this month, but that is delayed while Mr. Trump appeals to the Supreme Court.

The federal case in Florida charging Mr. Trump with mishandling classified documents was originally set for May, but now does not have a trial date.

And a judge in Atlanta this week quashed six of the charges against Mr. Trump in his Georgia election interference case, which also lacks a trial date.

Until now, the Manhattan case had been the only one of the four criminal cases not mired in delays as Justice Merchan pushed the case ahead at every turn.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday. A spokeswoman for Mr. Bragg declined to comment.

The last-minute arrival of the records appeared to raise some tension between Mr. Bragg and his federal counterparts.

Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors had requested records last year from the federal prosecutors in the Southern District, and they received some, but not all of what they sought.

Then, in January, Mr. Trump’s lawyers subpoenaed the Southern District, which ultimately turned over 73,000 pages of records to both the defense and the prosecution earlier this month. “The vast majority” of those records are irrelevant to the case, Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors said in a filing on Friday.

But this week, they said, the Southern District dropped another 31,000 documents in response to Mr. Trump’s subpoena, and a “subset” of those records is relevant. Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors added that they had previously sought some — they did not say how many — of those same records from the Southern District last year.

It is unclear why the Southern District did not previously provide that material to Mr. Bragg, a close law enforcement partner. A spokesman for the Southern District, which was expected to turn over a final batch of 15,000 records on Friday, declined to comment.

In a court filing on Thursday, Mr. Bragg said his prosecutors were prepared to begin the trial on March 25 as planned, but that they did not oppose a 30-day delay “out of an abundance of caution and to ensure that defendant has sufficient time to review the new materials.”

Mr. Bragg also challenged Mr. Trump’s recent effort to have the case thrown out. Mr. Trump’s lawyers asked Justice Merchan to dismiss the case and penalize the prosecutors because, they asserted, prosecutors had failed to turn over relevant documents.

But Mr. Bragg argued that Mr. Trump had only himself to blame, noting that he had not sought the records from the Southern District until January.

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