Trump seeks delay of hush money trial over ‘prejudicial’ press coverage

Trump seeks delay of hush money trial over ‘prejudicial’ press coverage

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in the hallway outside a courtroom in New York City, U.S., on March 25, 2024, where he attends a hearing in his criminal trial over allegations related to hush money payments to a porn star.

Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters

Donald Trump’s lawyers have asked a judge for a “significant” delay to his upcoming hush-money trial, arguing that the Republican presidential nominee cannot get a fair jury because of “adverse pre-trial publicity.”

The trial on charges of falsifying business records must be postponed until press coverage “subsides,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in a filing with the New York Supreme Court last week.

But in the wake of that request, Trump himself has publicly expressed doubts about the integrity of the trial, writing a barrage of social media posts attacking the presiding judge — and his adult daughter.

Those posts came after Judge Juan Merchan issued a gag order barring Trump from speaking about likely witnesses and others involved in the case.

The gag order does not explicitly prohibit Trump from attacking the judge himself. Prosecutors asked Merchan on Thursday to “clarify or confirm” that the order protects family members of the court.

Trump called for Merchan’s withdrawal from the case and accused him of political bias in a series of recent Truth Social posts. Some of these posts relate to Merchan’s daughter’s work for a Democratic political firm, and at least one of them includes her full name and picture.

But in their court filing requesting a postponement of the trial, Trump’s lawyers argued that it was the press, not the former president, who tainted the jury pool.

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Citing a survey of 400 New York residents, the lawyers wrote, “It is clear that potential jurors in Manhattan have been subjected to enormous biased and unfair media coverage regarding this case.”

“Many of the potential jurors already incorrectly believe that President Trump is guilty,” her filing states.

They also pointed to a “media study” finding that many articles “contained biased discussions of other proceedings involving President Trump and inaccurate and irrelevant discussions of alleged sexual misconduct, including false allegations of ‘rape.’

Trump was found guilty in a separate federal civil trial last year of sexually abusing writer E. Jean Carroll in the mid-1990s and defaming her decades later.

The defense filing also alleged that the Manhattan district attorney’s office “exploited strategic leaks” to conceal a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in its prosecution of Trump on charges of falsifying business records.

The filing also accused the DA’s office of deliberately scheduling the sentencing date of former Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg – who pleaded guilty to perjury last month – closer to the trial in order to attract more news coverage.

Weisselberg is scheduled to be sentenced April 10, five days before jury selection begins in the hush money trial.

The filing also argues that continued criticism of Trump by two key witnesses in the trial – Daniels and Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen – underscores that he “cannot receive a fair trial in New York County at this time.”

“Therefore, the court should postpone the trial date until adverse media coverage subsides,” the attorneys wrote.

The filing is dated March 18 but was made public last week after a court hearing on another attempt by Trump to dismiss the charges or postpone the trial to a later date.

Merchan ordered jury selection to begin April 15 in that hearing after rejecting claims from Trump’s lawyers that the DA’s office violated rules on sharing evidence. But the judge allowed these lawyers to file their motion to postpone the trial on the grounds of negative press coverage.

“The news media that has been generated is not the result of President Trump,” defense attorney Todd Blanche said in that hearing.

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo responded that the possibility of a delay in the trial due to media coverage of it was “extremely unlikely.”

The publicity in the case – the first of four criminal cases against Trump before the courts – will not let up, Colangelo told the judge.

The prosecutor also found that this intense media coverage was “caused and exacerbated” by Trump.

Merchan gave the district attorney’s office one week to file its full response.

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2024-04-01 20:48:02