Judge declines to delay Trump’s NY hush money trial

NEW YORK — The judge in Donald Trump’s hush money criminal case on Friday turned down the former president’s request to postpone his trial because of publicity about the case.

It’s the latest in a string of delay denials that Trump has gotten from various courts this week as he fights to stave off the trial’s start Monday with jury selection.

Among other things, Trump’s lawyers had argued that the jury pool was deluged with what the defense saw as “exceptionally prejudicial” news coverage of the case. The defense maintained that was a reason to hold off the case indefinitely.

Judge Juan M. Merchan wrote that Trump “appears to take the position that his situation and this case are unique and that the pre-trial publicity will never subside. However, this view does not align with reality.”

Pointing to Trump’s two federal defamation trials and a state civil fraud trial in Manhattan within the past year, Merchan wrote that the ex-president himself “was personally responsible for generating much, if not most, of the surrounding publicity with his public statements” outside those courtrooms and on social media.

“The situation Defendant finds himself in now is not new to him and at least in part, of his own doing,” the judge added. He said questioning of prospective jurors would address any concerns about their ability to be fair and impartial.

Messages seeking comment were left with Trump’s lawyers. The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment.

Trump, meanwhile, said Friday that he planned to testify at the trial, calling the case a “scam.”

“All I can do is tell the truth,” Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. “And the truth is, they have no case.”

Asked about jury selection, Trump said the process is “largely luck.”

“It depends who you get,” Trump said.

“It’s very unfair that I’m having a trial there,” he said, reiterating complaints he has made about the judge.

In a court filing last month, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche had argued that “potential jurors in Manhattan have been exposed to huge amounts of biased and unfair media coverage relating to this case.”

“Many of the potential jurors already wrongfully believe that President Trump is guilty,” Blanche added, citing the defense’s review of media articles and other research it conducted.

Blanche said the review found 1,223 articles published online about the case from mid-January to late February and that many of them “unfairly and improperly ‘demonized'” Trump. However, a chart included in a defense submission included many mentions of terms relevant to the case, such as 207 references to “Manhattan Trial” and 142 to “Hush Money Payments.”

Trump’s lawyers also blamed key prosecution witnesses Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels for driving negative coverage of Trump. They pointed to Cohen’s withering criticism of Trump on his podcasts and social media feeds and to publicity surrounding the release of a documentary about Daniels, which premiered last month on the NBC streaming service Peacock.

Prosecutors contended that publicity wasn’t likely to wane and that Trump’s own comments generated a lot of it. Prosecutors also noted that there are more than 1 million people in Manhattan, arguing that jury questioning could surely locate 12, plus six alternates, who could be impartial.

Trump’s hush money case is the first of his four criminal indictments slated to go to trial and would be the first criminal trial ever of a former president.

He is accused of doctoring his company’s records to hide the real reason for payments to Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer who helped the candidate bury negative claims about him during his 2016 campaign.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper?

Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today