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Trump asks judge to delay New York criminal trial until Supreme Court rules on presidential immunity

The judge gave prosecutors until Wednesday to respond.
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Former President Donald Trump’s attorneys are asking the judge presiding over his impending criminal trial in New York to delay the trial until after the U.S. Supreme Court issues its ruling on the scope of presidential immunity.

If granted, the 11th-hour long-shot bid filed on Thursday would delay the trial, which is scheduled to start March 25, by several weeks, if not months.

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records tied to a hush-money payment to an adult film star toward the end of his 2016 campaign. While actress Stormy Daniels received the money from Trump's attorney Michael Cohen before Trump became president, Trump's payments to Cohen — and the allegedly falsified business records — came after he was in the White House.

Trump's newest filing came as a bit of a surprise — the deadline to file pretrial motions had already passed. Judge Juan Merchan released an order the next day, on Friday, pointing out the lapsed deadline and instructing lawyers to not file further motions without first seeking permission from the court, a routine process. Both filings were not made public until Monday. Merchan also gave prosecutors until Wednesday to submit a reply.

Trump's filing contends that he's immune from state prosecution based on "official acts," and that some of the evidence against him should be kept out of trial because they were official acts — including his tweets and public comments.

It says prosecutors from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office want "to offer evidence at trial concerning a fictitious so-called 'pressure campaign' by President Trump in 2018 relating to Michael Cohen." Part of that evidence, the filing said, is his public statements and tweets about Cohen.

Those remarks "fell within the outer perimeter of his Presidential duty, to which communicating with the public on matters of public concern was central,” it contends.

Trump's lawyers also appeared to argue there's some sort of blurred line as to whether the business records Trump signed off on relating to the payments were an official act. They said that "while it is clear that the People intend to offer documents and testimony relating to the period in 2017 when President Trump was in office, they have not provided sufficiently specific notice of the nature and extent of that evidence to allow President Trump or the Court to distinguish between personal and official acts."

His lawyers said Merchan should delay the trial until after the Supreme Court issues its ruling on the scope of presidential immunity in the federal election interference case against the former president. The high court is scheduled to hear arguments in that case on April 25.

Trump tried making a similar immunity argument in the case last year when he was trying to get the matter moved to federal court, and it was firmly rejected by U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein.

“The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the matter was a purely a personal item of the President — a cover-up of an embarrassing event. Hush money paid to an adult film star is not related to a President’s official acts,” Hellerstein wrote in his ruling.

“Falsifying business records to hide such reimbursement, and to transform the reimbursement into a business expense for Trump and income to Cohen, likewise does not relate to a presidential duty,” he added.

Trump appealed that ruling but later dropped it, making it likely the DA's office will contend the matter has already been decided and that Trump waived his right to challenge it.

In a separate filing Monday, Trump asked the judge presiding over the classified documents case in Florida to extend some filing deadlines for him, in part because of the impending New York trial. The filing did not mention that Trump was seeking to have the trial delayed.