The judge refuses to postpone the hush-money criminal trial against Trump due to complaints about publicity in the preliminary trial

(Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

The judge refuses to postpone the hush-money criminal trial against Trump due to complaints about publicity in the preliminary trial


April 12, 2024

The judge in Donald Trump’s hush-money criminal case on Friday rejected the former president’s request to postpone his trial due to publicity about the case.

It is the latest in a series of denials of stays that Trump has received from various courts this week as he fights to prevent the start of the trial on Monday with jury selection.

Trump’s lawyers had argued, among other things, that the jury was inundated with what the defense saw as exceptionally prejudicial reporting about the case. According to the defense, this was a reason to postpone the case indefinitely.

Judge Juan M. Merchan said this idea was not sustainable.

Trump seems to be taking the position that his situation and this case are unique and that the pre-trial publicity will never diminish. However, this view does not correspond to reality, the judge writes.

Referring to Trump’s two federal defamation lawsuits and a civil corporate fraud lawsuit in Manhattan last 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 the US’. those courtrooms and on social media.

The situation the suspect now finds himself in is not new to him and is at least partly his own doing, the judge added. He said questioning potential jurors would alleviate any concerns about their ability to be fair and impartial.

There was no immediate comment from Trump’s lawyers or the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case.

In a lawsuit last month, Trump attorney Todd Blanche had argued that “potential jurors in Manhattan have been exposed to enormous amounts of biased and unfair media attention regarding this case.

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

Prosecutors argued that the publicity is unlikely to subside and that Trump’s own comments generated much of it. Prosecutors also noted that there are more than 1 million people in Manhattan, arguing that jury questioning could yield at least a dozen people who could be impartial.

Trump’s lawyers had lobbied an appeals court this week with other, sometimes similar arguments for a delay. One of those appeals sought to put the trial on hold until the appeals court could fully consider the defense’s argument that it should be moved elsewhere, on the grounds that the jury pool had been tainted by reporting on Trump’s other recent cases.

Trump’s lawyers also argue that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee faces real potential bias in heavily Democratic Manhattan.

All of this week’s appeals have been dismissed by individual appeal judges, although the cases will be sent to a panel of appeal judges for further hearing.

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

Trump is accused of falsifying his company’s records to conceal the real reason for payments to his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who helped the candidate bury negative claims about him during his 2016 campaign. Cohen’s activities include paying porn actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 to suppress her story about an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump years earlier, which Trump denies.

Trump pleaded not guilty last year to 34 felony counts of falsifying company records. His lawyers argue that the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal fees.

Peltz and Sisak write for the Associated Press.


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