Trump denied delay in hush-money case while hoping for immunity


New York: Donald Trump’s has been denied his request to delay his upcoming hush money trial in New York until after the US Supreme Court rules on the former president’s immunity defence, dealing a blow to his re-election campaign.

The ruling on Thursday (AEDT) by Judge Juan Merchan clears the way for the first of Trump’s four criminal cases to go before a jury as planned on April 15. Trump made the request early last month, which Merchan said was far too late.

“This Court finds that Defendant had myriad opportunities to raise the claim of presidential immunity well before March 7, 2024,” almost a year after the former president was indicted, the judge wrote.

Former US president Donald Trump during a campaign event in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Tuesday. The campaign banner reads “fire Biden”.Credit: Bloomberg

Merchan’s ruling is the latest setback in the case for Trump, who was hit last week with a gag order barring him from publicly discussing jurors or prosecutors during the trial to protect their safety. The judge expanded the gag order on Monday to include his own family members after Trump attacked Merchan’s daughter online over the weekend.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has accused the real estate mogul of falsifying dozens of business records to disguise a payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to keep voters from hearing her claim about an extramarital affair a decade earlier. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on April 15.

Judge Juan Merchan (far right) addresses Trump (far left) on April 4. Merchan slapped a new gag order on Trump, then extended it after Trump attacked his daughter online.

Judge Juan Merchan (far right) addresses Trump (far left) on April 4. Merchan slapped a new gag order on Trump, then extended it after Trump attacked his daughter online.Credit: AP

Prosecutors allege Trump engaged in a “pressure campaign” in 2018 to ensure that his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen didn’t cooperate with a federal investigation of hush-money payments. Cohen, who pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law, is expected to be a key witness against his former boss.

Trump, who is campaigning to return to the White House in this year’s election, had asked Merchan to adjourn the trial until the Supreme Court ruled on his immunity argument in a separate federal criminal case in Washington over his alleged attempt to interfere with the 2020 election. Justices hear arguments in that case on April 25, but may not rule until June. Trump also asked Merchan to bar evidence of comments he made while president, arguing they were made in his official capacity.

Bragg had argued that Trump’s claim of presidential immunity should be rejected because the former leader failed to provide any legal authority to support his claim that the state crimes he’s accused of are “presidential acts”. Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.



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