Trump loses third bid this week to delay hush money trial

By Thomson Reuters Apr 10, 2024 | 4:11 PM

By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A New York appeals judge on Wednesday denied Donald Trump’s third last-ditch attempt this week to delay his April 15 criminal trial on charges stemming from hush money paid to a porn star, paving the way for the first-ever trial of a former U.S. president.

During an earlier hearing, Trump lawyer Emil Bove said the trial should be delayed because Justice Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the case, has not yet ruled on their request for him to recuse himself.

Bove also said Merchan was wrong to deny their request to bar prosecutors from presenting Trump’s tweets during his 2017-2021 presidential term as evidence. Bove said presidential immunity should prevent the prosecutors from presenting those posts as evidence.

“We are scheduled to begin trial under circumstances that will violate President Trump’s rights,” Bove said at the hearing before Associate Justice Ellen Gesmer at a mid-level state appeals court called the Appellate Division

Steven Wu, a lawyer for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office, said Trump’s lawyers had brought the requests too late.

“There is a powerful public interest in ensuring that this criminal trial go forward,” Wu said.

Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, is accused of covering up a $130,000 hush money payment his former lawyer Michael Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels for her silence ahead of the 2016 election about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in 2006.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records and denies any such encounter with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Merchan has not yet ruled on Trump’s motion for him to recuse himself. The defense has argued that the judge’s daughter’s work for a political consulting firm with Democratic clients poses a conflict of interest.

On Monday, a judge at the Appellate Division denied Trump’s request to delay the case while he pursues a challenge to the trial being held in heavily Democratic Manhattan.

And on Tuesday, another judge rejected his bid to pause the trial while he appeals Merchan’s decision to impose a gag order restricting his public statements about potential witnesses, court staff, lawyers, and family members of the judge and District Attorney Bragg.

Those appeals will still be heard by a full panel.

The case is one of four criminal indictments Trump faces as he prepares to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in their Nov. 5 U.S. election rematch. He has sought to delay proceedings in all cases until after the election, and the hush money case is the only one with a firm trial date.

The other cases stem from his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden and his handling of sensitive government documents after leaving the presidency in 2021. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jonathan Oatis)