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Trump trial over alleged hush money payments set for April 15 during hearing: Highlights

Judge Juan Merchan did not agree with Trump's lawyers' arguments that his New York criminal trial should be further delayed.

What to know about today's hearing

  • Judge Juan Merchan set an April 15 start date for the trial in the hush money case against former President Donald Trump.
  • The trial was initially scheduled to start today, but Merchan allowed a 30-day delay to give Trump's lawyers time to review documents federal prosecutors turned over from their prosecution of key witness Michael Cohen.
  • Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg urged the judge not to delay the trial further, arguing that only a few hundred of the 170,000 documents from federal prosecutors are relevant to Trump’s defense.
  • The district attorney alleges Trump falsified business records related to $130,000 in hush money that Cohen paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election to keep her quiet about her claim that she had an adulterous affair with Trump, which the former president denies.
  • Appearing for Bragg's office were prosecutors Joshua Steinglass, Matthew Colangelo, Christopher Conroy and Susan Hoffinger. Lawyers Todd Blanche, Susan Necheles and Emil Bove are among those present for Trump's defense.
  • In a victory for Trump, a New York appeals court reduced the bond required for his civil fraud verdict in that separate case and gave him more time to post it.

Trump says he 'might' put his own money into his presidential campaign

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

In response to a question from NBC News, Trump said that he "might" put his own money into his presidential campaign.

“I’ll be spending money on my campaign, I might spend a lot of money on my campaign," he said. But, he told reporters, "It's none of your business."

Trump said on Friday that he has $500 million in cash, which he claimed he was planning to spend on his campaign. The former president, however, hasn't spent his own money on his campaigns since 2016.

Trump rails against legal woes he's facing, calls it 'election interference'

Speaking to reporters at his 40 Wall Street property, Trump again griped that “this is all about election interference,” repeating baseless allegations that Biden is attempting a political hit job against him ahead of the presidential election.

“It’s a shame what’s happening to our country, this is election interference,” he said. “They are doing things that have never been done in this country before.”

He then went off on a tirade that addressed a wide variety of topics from the wars in Gaza and Ukraine, Hillary Clinton, his social media company and inflation.

Trump will deliver remarks at 1 p.m.

Trump said in a post on his Truth Social platform that he will address members of the media at 1 p.m. at his property at 40 Wall Street.

Truth Social owner Trump Media will begin trading under DJT ticker Tuesday

Dan Mangan, CNBC

Trump’s newly merged social media company will begin trading under the stock ticker symbol DJT on Tuesday, the firm said in a new regulatory filing.

The company, which owns the Truth Social app platform, will be called Trump Media & Technology Group Corp., and will trade on the NASDAQ market.

TMTG is the result of a combination of Trump’s company and the shell company Digital World Acquisition Corp.

Read the full story here.

Trump says judge's decision on trial date is 'election interference'

Diana Paulsen

Jillian Frankel and Diana Paulsen

Trump addressed the cameras outside the courtroom, calling Merchan's decision a disgrace, a "clear case of election interference” and “voter intimidation." He also said he would be appealing the decision.

Hearing has ended

Adam Reiss and Summer Concepcion

The court adjourned at 12:15 p.m.

Trump conferred with his attorneys and on his way out gave a thumbs-up to a reporter and a thank you to a woman in the back row.

Judge has set start date of the trial for April 15

Adam Reiss

Diana Paulsen

Adam Reiss and Diana Paulsen

The judge has set a start date of April 15 for the trial to begin with jury selection.

Judge says he will rule from bench now, doesn't blame DA for document delays

"The district attorney of New York county is not at fault for the late production of documents from the U.S. attorney’s office," Merchan says. "The Manhattan district attorney’s office made diligent, good-faith efforts."

Trump is shaking his head as Merchan begins reading his decision.

Trump praises appeal court decision on his civil fraud judgment, calls judge 'a disgrace'

Diana Paulsen

Addressing cameras upon his return to the courtroom, Trump criticized the judge in his civil fraud case, calling him "a disgrace to this country." He praised the decision of the New York appellate court in reducing his bond saying that he "greatly respects the decision" and that he will "post $175 million...very quickly within the 10 days."

When asked by a reporter whether he would accept foreign money to pay the bond, he did not answer.

New York AG notes the $464 million judgment against Trump and co-defendants 'still stands'

In a statement following the state appellate court’s ruling lowering Trump’s bond to $175 million, the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the civil fraud case against Trump, noted that the original $464 million judgment “still stands.”

“Donald Trump is still facing accountability for his staggering fraud. The court has already found that he engaged in years of fraud to falsely inflate his net worth and unjustly enrich himself, his family, and his organization,” a spokesperson for James said in a statement. “The $464 million judgment — plus interest — against Donald Trump and the other defendants still stands.”

Hearing about to resume

After about a 45-minute break, Trump returned to the courtroom followed by Blanche, Necheles and other members of his legal team, and took his seat at the defense table. The proceedings are about to get back underway. 

Lack of electrical outlets has reporters powering down their laptops during break

While laptops are allowed inside the courtroom, there aren’t any outlets, leaving reporters without the ability to keep their laptops charged.

During this break, some reporters have powered them down, while others are hoping the hearing won’t go for too much longer after the proceedings resume.

In victory for Trump, appeals court reduces bond in his civil fraud case and gives him more time

Diana Paulsen

An appeals court today handed Trump a major victory, reducing the bond required for his civil fraud verdict and giving him 10 more days to post it. He now has 10 days to pay a $175 million bond, rather than having to pay nearly $500 million by today.

The decision also stayed the ban on Trump and some of his family members serving on the board of companies.

They did not grant requests from Trump to prohibit the independent monitor or installing an independent director of compliance.  

Judge: 'It's odd that we're even here'

Adam Reiss

Adam Reiss and Gary Grumbach

Merchan lays out his central issue with the defense's argument. He says Trump's lawyers are interpreting the facts differently than he is. Trump's lawyers have said that the prosecutors aren't doing enough but the judge says he sees them "going above and beyond."

"It's odd that we’re even here, that we’ve taken this time," he says.

The court is out on a 45-minute break

Adam Reiss

Diana Paulsen

Adam Reiss and Diana Paulsen

The court is out on a 45-minute recess. Trump and his team have left the courtroom.

Judge shoots down Trump lawyer's argument that prosecutors obstructed

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad

Merchan chided Blanche for the way he described document production by the Manhattan prosecutors.

“If the people know that something you request would be in violation of federal law, what you’re saying is that the people shouldn’t do anything?” Merchan asked. “They’re a law enforcement agency, are they supposed to stick their head in the sand and ignore it?”

Blanche said the prosecutors should have told the U.S. attorney's office that they knew the office had key evidence involving one of the prosecutors' witnesses.

Merchan told Blanche that he's accusing the DA's office of obstruction, and the judge says that's not what happened.

Trump looks mad as he leaves the courtroom

Trump looks angry, his brow furrowed as he exits the courtroom.

Judge suspicious of defense's efforts to delay the trial

The subtext of this entire hearing has been Judge Merchan appearing highly suspicious of the defense team’s effort to delay this trial. He’s pressing Blanche to now explain why he waited until January to request documents he likely knew existed last spring. He’s even brought up Blanche’s past experience in the U.S. attorney’s office in New York to highlight that he should know the diligence that’s required.

“Why did you wait until two months before trial? Why didn’t you do it in June or July?" Merchan asks.

 "It’s not our job," says Blanche. Merchan shoots back that it's not the DA's job either.

Exasperated with Trump's team, judge says they are accusing DA's office of 'prosecutorial misconduct'

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad

Merchan, uncharacteristically furious, gets stern with Trump’s team and says, “That you don’t have a case right now is really disconcerting.”

“You are literally accusing the Manhattan DA’s office and the people assigned to this case of prosecutorial misconduct," the judge said.

Merchan added that Trump's team doesn't have a single example to support that allegation.

Trump whispers to lawyers

Trump is whispering to Necheles and Bove. Necheles appears to have handed over a note.

Bove looked like he was trying to get Blanche’s attention, who is now addressing the judge.

Prosecutors push back on allegations by Trump's team that they are 'actively suppressing discovery'

Prosecutors disputed a claim made by Trump’s team that they are “actively suppressing discovery.”

Prosecutors have argued that most of the discovery is irrelevant to Trump’s criminal defense.

“We were not trying to obscure anything,” Colangelo said.

Some of the documents being discussed are not publicly available yet

The judge is now going back and forth with the lawyers for both sides referring to written briefings filed with the court (especially the timelines filed on March 21), but not yet publicly available — underscoring the difficulty the press faces in covering filings that aren’t under seal but haven’t been seen yet.

Trump appears to relay messages through his lawyers

Trump leaned over to Bove a moment ago and whispered, with Bove then appearing to pass a message to Blanche, who stood to press the documents issue further with Merchan, citing the Mueller probe, the "Access Hollywood" tape, and more.

“We want to be accurate, every document is important,” Blanche insisted.

Judge and Trump's lawyer have tense exchange over new documents

+2

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss

Merchan is zeroing in on what appears to be his view that the defense has selectively brought up this issue over the documents too late in the game. He’s reminding defense counsel that back at a hearing in February they asked for the trial date to be delayed then too but didn’t bring up the fight over documents.

Blanche said that the number of new documents has grown since last week and said they have asked for meetings with the FBI related to the 2016 investigations into Trump.

Merchan said of former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, "What does that have to do with this case?"

Trump's lawyer struggle as they try to make the case for delaying trial further

Remember the entire reason we are here today is to figure out how much time the defense team needs to review these documents so a trial date can be set.

They are trying to convince this judge that there are “thousands” of potentially relevant documents to go through but the judge is pushing hard to pin down a firm number and Blanche is struggling.

“Give me a sense," Merchan asks Trump's lawyer, Todd Blanche. "Give me your best estimate. I realize you’re still going through it.”

“Your honor, I mean thousands. Thousands," Blanche says.

Merchan pushes him: “2,000? 20,000?”

“Tens of thousands is the answer, your honor," Blanche replies.

Trump stares at his attorney during rapid exchange with judge

Trump has spent the last few moments facing his attorney as Blanche goes back and forth with the judge.

Trump's lawyer seems frazzled by pointed questioning from judge

Adam Reiss

Diana Paulsen

Adam Reiss and Diana Paulsen

Blanche seemed caught off guard by harsh questioning from Merchan, pushing him on why he did not bring up a request for more time at an earlier date.

Merchan questions Trump's lawyers about why they didn't bring up documents issue sooner

+2

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Merchan questions the defense on why they didn't bring up a request for more time during a hearing last month.

“Why didn’t you bring any of this to my attention? Why didn’t you tell the court or anyone in the courtroom at that time that you had made this request, that it was taking a little longer than you expected?” Merchan asked. “So how come you didn’t bring them up?”

Trump lawyer argues there are new documents related to Daniels

Adam Reiss and Summer Concepcion

Todd Blanche, a lawyer for Trump, argued that there is new information to consider, saying that the Southern District of New York notified both parties last night about new documents related to Stephanie Clifford, Daniels' legal name.

Blanche said that Trump’s lawyers do not know the volume of the material or when they will receive it, but that it relates to prior statements Clifford gave to the FBI and trial exhibits.

Merchan said that he appreciates the new information being brought to his attention but added, “I don’t think it’s related to the hearing, but thank you.”

Judge Merchan says court believes there aren't 'significant questions of fact to be resolved'

After going through the court filings from the last several weeks in painstaking detail, Merchan says: “This court is of the opinion that there are really not significant questions of fact to be resolved."

Trump lawyers reiterating request to further delay trial

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad

Trump's attorneys asked for immediate adjournment for more than 30 days, a hearing on discovery and a delay to the trial date. They noted that a later date in April would conflict with Passover.

The judge hasn't set an exact date for the trial yet, but it's expected to begin in April.

Trump stares down judge as he outlines details of the case so far

Trump is eyeing Merchan intently as the judge goes over the details of the case.

The former president said a few words to his lawyer but is otherwise fixed on the judge who is citing parts of the defense brief and prosecutors’ submissions

Judge Merchan starts hearing 'by going over the events that bring us here today'

After the prosecution and the defense announced their appearances, Merchan began today's hearing with a refresher on developments that have happened so far in the case.

“It’s a good idea for us to get started by going over the events that bring us here today and why we’re here today," Merchan said.

The hearing has begun

Diana Paulsen

The court has been called to order and the hearing has begun.

Trump sits for photos as 3 secret services agents stand guard

Photographers are coming in to snap photos of Trump before Judge Merchan on the bench.

In an unusual arrangement, three secret service agents are standing together at the entrance of the well. 

Trump gripes that hush money case is a 'witch hunt'

Shortly before walking into the courtroom, Trump briefly issued remarks decrying the hush money case against him as a "witch hunt" and a "hoax."

Trump then walked into the courtroom, flanked by his attorneys.

Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg arrives in the courtroom

Adam Reiss

Adam Reiss and Gary Grumbach

Bragg has arrived with his spokeswoman and other aides and is sitting on the aisle in the second row.

We have not seen any interaction between opposing sides as we have in the past, (maybe a result of the kerfuffle over the discovery). Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass is sitting in the first seat staring straight ahead.

Trump protesters outside the couthouse: 'The Emperor has no dough'

Just before Trump’s arrival at the Manhattan courthouse, about a dozen protestors took to the streets. Some of their signs read, “The Emperor has no dough,” “Not above the law,” and “Only wins when he cheats.”

Though the protestors initially started by marching down the main street in front of the courthouse, they were ushered over to the public park area outside of the courthouse.

Who is Judge Juan Merchan?

Adam Reiss

Dareh Gregorian and Adam Reiss

Donald Trump has dismissed him as a hater, but Judge Juan Merchan is a veteran jurist with a reputation for being stern yet compassionate.

“He’s a serious jurist, smart and even tempered,” said Ron Kuby, a longtime defense lawyer in Manhattan. “He’s not one of those judges who yells at lawyers, and is characterized as a no-nonsense judge. But he’s always in control of the courtroom.”

Barry Kamins, a New York judge turned defense lawyer, said his 60-year-old former colleague “is well-known, even in difficult cases, to exhibit excellent temperament, integrity and a solid knowledge of the law.”

Trump has taken a different view of Merchan.

Read the full story here.

Trump's team joined by a former Mitch McConnell staffer

Trump's main lawyers appear to be accompanied by a handful of other lawyers, including Kendra Wharton, a former staffer for Mitch McConnell who is now a defense lawyer.

Trump attorneys enter the courtroom briefly

Trump attorneys Todd Blanche, Emil Bove and Cliff Robert briefly walked into the courtroom, then turned around and left.

Trump arrives at the courthouse for hush money hearing

Trump arrived at the courthouse around 9:34 for the hearing.

What to expect from today's hearing

Adam Reiss

Adam Reiss and Gary Grumbach

Merchan is expected to hear arguments over discovery and what happened with the thousands of pages of discovery in the custody of the U.S. Attorney’s Office that were not handed over to the D.A.

The judge could announce a new trial date or take it under consideration and announce it in a matter of days. We expect attorneys for Donald Trump to attempt to delay the trial past the April 15 date saying they need more time to go over the newly found documents.

A block away at 60 Centre Street, Judge Arthur Engoron awaits word from Attorney General Letita James as to how she is going to collect on the more than $464 million dollars Donald Trump owes the court or if Trump has the money to pay the appeal bond. All eyes will be watching to see if there are any developments there today. 

Trump departs for courthouse

Trump walked out of Trump Tower at approximately 9:10 a.m. The motorcade left at 9:11 a.m.

Courtroom packed for today's hearing

Adam Reiss

Adam Reiss and Gary Grumbach

The courtroom is full with reporters. There is the typical heavy security today with reporters going through two sets of magnetometers and dozens of court officers both outside and inside lining the hallways with barricades everywhere.

Prosecutors Joshua Steinglass and Susan Hoffinger are here gathering documents and have just stepped out.


Trump lashes out at Judge Engoron and DA Bragg ahead of court appearance

Diana Paulsen

In posts on his social media platform Truth Social, Trump criticized both the hearing today and the looming deadline to pay the bond in his civil fraud case. He said of the hearing today that the case "should be dismissed" and called Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg "corrupt."

He also called the judge in the civil fraud case "corrupt" and said that the bond amount is "fraudulent."

Biden mocks Trump for bragging about trophies he won at his own golf club

Biden sarcastically responded to Trump’s post on Truth Social last night bragging about two trophies he was awarded at his own golf club.

“Congratulations, Donald. Quite the accomplishment,” Biden wrote on X, formerly Twitter, including a screenshot of Trump’s Truth Social post.

“It is my great honor to be at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach tonight, AWARDS NIGHT, to receive THE CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY & THE SENIOR CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY. I WON BOTH!” Trump wrote. “A large and golfing talented membership, a GREAT and difficult course, made the play very exciting.”

“The qualifying and match play was amazing. A large and distinguished group will be there tonight. Very exciting, thank you!!!” he added.

Biden’s jab at Trump comes after both secured their parties’ nominations to appear on the November presidential ballot.

The deadline for Trump to post more than $450 million in an appeal bond is Monday. Trump’s lawyers filed a motion telling the court he does not have the funds. New York Attorney General Letitia James said she will ask the court to seize his assets if he does not pay. NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard reports.

Judge in hush money case denies Trump’s bid to prevent Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels from testifying

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Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabad, Tom Winter and Adam Reiss

A New York judge last week denied Donald Trump's bid to keep his former lawyer Michael Cohen and adult film star Stormy Daniels from testifying in the former president’s criminal trial related to a 2016 hush money payment.

State Judge Juan Merchan gave Cohen and Daniels the green light to take the stand but placed some restrictions on Daniels’ testimony, specifically that she can’t testify about a lie detector test she took in 2018 indicating she’d been truthful about her comments about Trump.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case alleges that Trump falsified business records to hide money he was paying Cohen to reimburse him for $130,000 Cohen paid Daniels in the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign. Daniels has claimed she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. Trump has denied that he slept with Daniels, but he has acknowledged repaying Cohen.

In a court filing last month, Trump’s attorneys argued neither Cohen nor Daniels should be allowed to testify because they’re “liars.” Cohen admitted having lied under oath during his testimony at Trump’s recent civil fraud trial, but the judge who presided over that case found his testimony “credible” despite his admission.

Read the full story here.

Trump expected to appear in court for hearing in hush money case

Former President Donald Trump is expected to appear in court during a Monday hearing in the New York hush money case against him.

Judge Juan Merchan had postponed the trial, originally scheduled to begin Monday, until at least mid-April. The postponement of the trial came after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who brought the hush money case against the former president, said he supports a 30-day delay in the trial in response to Trump’s request for a postponement in order to review documents federal prosecutors had begun turning over related to their prosecution of former longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.

Bragg’s office, however, warned Merchan against delaying the trial further, saying that it should proceed April 15 because fewer than 300 of more than 170,000 documents turned over by federal prosecutors are potentially relevant to Trump’s criminal defense.

Trump’s lawyers have pointed fingers at the district attorney’s office for failing to obtain the records sooner and asked Merchan to toss out the charges. The DA’s office decried the arguments by Trump’s counsel as a “red herring.”

Read the full story here.