Trump loses latest 11th hour attempt to delay hush money trial while challenging gag order

The former president’s first criminal trial will begin on 15 April

Alex Woodward
in New York
Tuesday 09 April 2024 17:54 BST
Fox contributor says New York legal system’s integrity ‘at stake’ while discussing Trump case

Donald Trump has failed to convince a New York appeals court to delay an imminent criminal trial surrounding a so-called hush money scheme while he challenges a gag order that blocks him from public attacks against trial participants and family members of court staff.

A state appeals court judge rejected his second 11th hour attempt to further delay the trial on Tuesday, one day after a judge denied his request to delay the proceedings while he tries to move the case out of Manhattan.

Mr Trump’s latest attempts to delay the proceedings follow repeated failures to stop what will be the first of four criminal trials he is expected to face in the coming months.

Last year, in the first criminal indictment against him, a grand jury charged the former president with 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with repayments to his then-lawyer Michael Cohen, who arranged a hush money scheme to prevent the release of potentially compromising stories about Mr Trump and his affair with an adult film star.

The case from the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg could rely on Cohen’s testimony that Mr Trump authorised his business to falsely file payments as legal expenses, part of an alleged effort to quash stories that could interfere with then-candidate Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to prosecutors.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Donald Trump appears in Manhattan criminal court for a pretrial hearing on 25 March
Donald Trump appears in Manhattan criminal court for a pretrial hearing on 25 March (AP)

A full state appeals court panel will begin considering his request to delay the trial on Monday – the same day that jury selection is scheduled to begin. Mr Trump’s legal team has until 10am on Monday to respond.

The panel will also consider his challenge to Judge Merchan’s gag order later this month.

The gag order issued by Judge Merchan – issued hours after Mr Trump lashed out at his daughter on his Truth Social last month – blocks the former president from making any such statements “made with the intent to materially interfere” with any work in the case.

Last week, the judge expanded the scope of the order to prohibit attacks against family members of court staff and attorneys involved in the case, citing Mr Trump’s “very real” threat to the trial’s integrity.

“The average observer must now, after hearing [Mr Trump’s] recent attacks, draw the conclusion that if they become involved in these proceedings, even tangentially, they should worry not only for themselves but for their loved ones as well,” Judge Merchan wrote.

“Such concerns will undoubtedly interfere with the fair administration of justice, and constitute a direct attack on the rule of law itself,” he added.

Judge Merchan also has rejected Mr Trump’s attempts to delay the trial until the US Supreme Court issues a ruling on his “presidential immunity” defence surrounding a separate criminal case targeting his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The judge has yet to rule on Mr Trump’s argument that he will not get a fair trial because of “prejudicial media coverage.” On his Truth Social, Mr Trump has suggested that the case should be moved to Staten Island, the only New York borough he won in the 2016 and 2020 elections.

Judge Merchan also has not yet ruled on Mr Trump’s motions for the judge to recuse himself from the case, pointing to his daughter’s political work.

On Monday, Mr Bragg’s office swatted down his attorneys’ demands which prosecutors called an attempt to “pollute” the court and continue Mr Trump’s attacks “as part of a meritless effort to call the integrity of these proceedings into question.”

That motion represented “yet another last-ditch attempt to address [the] defendant’s real objective … to delay this proceeding indefinitely,” prosecutors wrote.

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