The judge rejects Trump’s request to postpone the hush money trial until the Supreme Court rules on immunity

(Brendan McDermid/Associated Press)

The judge rejects Trump’s request to postpone the hush money trial until the Supreme Court rules on immunity

Election 2024


April 3, 2024

A judge on Wednesday rejected Donald Trump’s bid to delay his April 15 hush-money criminal trial until the Supreme Court rules on presidential immunity claims he made in another of his criminal cases.

Manhattan Judge Juan M. Merchan deemed the former president’s request untimely, ruling that his lawyers had numerous opportunities to raise the immunity issue before ultimately doing so in a March 7 court filing.

The timing of the defense filing raises real questions about the sincerity and true purpose of the motion, Merchan wrote in a six-page decision.

Lawyers for Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, had asked last month to postpone the trial in New York indefinitely until Trump claims immunity in Washington.


The election interference case has been resolved.

Merchan previously chided Trump’s lawyers for missing a filing deadline, waiting until two weeks before jury selection to raise the immunity issue and not explaining the reason for the late filing.

Trump claims he is immune from prosecution for conduct incidental to official actions while in office. His lawyers argue that some of the evidence in the hush-money case comes from his time in the White House and constitutes official actions. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on April 25.

Trump first raised the immunity issue in his criminal case in Washington, which alleges he worked to overturn the results of the 2020 election ahead of the violent riot by his supporters at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021.

Trump attorney Todd Blanche declined comment. The Manhattan district attorney’s office also declined to comment.

Trump’s hush money trial, the first of his four criminal cases to go before a jury, was postponed from March 25 to April 15 due to another matter.

His lawyers continued to push for more delays in recent weeks. In separate lawsuits, they urged Merchan to delay the trial indefinitely until adverse media coverage subsides, claiming he would not get a fair shake in heavily Democratic Manhattan.

Prosecutors denied that request Wednesday, arguing that publicity about the case is unlikely to diminish and that the jury selection process, which includes additional questions to detect bias, will allow them to pick an impartial jury. Further, they said, Trump’s own incessant rhetoric generates significant publicity, and it would be perverse to reward defendants with a reprieve based on media attention he actively seeks.

The hush money case centers on allegations that Trump falsified his company’s internal records to conceal the true nature of payments to his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who helped Trump bury negative stories during his 2016 presidential campaign. Cohen paid, among other things, adults film actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 to suppress her claims of an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump years earlier.

Trump’s lawyers argue that some of the evidence Manhattan prosecutors plan to introduce during the hush money trial, including posts he posted on social media in 2018 about money paid to Cohen, stemmed from his time as president and constituted official acts.

Trump pleaded not guilty last year to 34 felony counts of falsifying company records. He has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels, and his lawyers argue that the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal fees and not part of a cover-up.

Last year, a federal judge rejected Trump’s claim that the allegations in the hush money indictment related to official duties and rejected his attempt to move the case from state court to federal court. Had the case been moved to federal court, Trump’s lawyers could have tried to have the charges dismissed on the grounds that federal officials have immunity from prosecution for actions taken as part of their official duties.

The question of whether a former president is immune from federal prosecution for actions in office is legally untested.

Prosecutors in the Washington case have said that no such immunity exists and that at least none of the actions Trump is alleged to have taken in the indictment accusing him of conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election after he lost to Democrat Joe Biden, as official acts.

The Washington judge and a federal appeals court both ruled against Trump, but the Supreme Court last month agreed to reconsider the case and issue a decision that delays the federal case in Washington and creates new uncertainty about when it could come to trial.

Sisak writes for the Associated Press.


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