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Trump hush money trial postponed until mid-April, judge rules

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg had said he would support the trial being delayed at least 30 days, while Trump’s legal team requested 90 days.
Image: Donald Trump Attends Pre-Trial Hearing In New York Hush Money Case
Donald Trump attends a pre-trial hearing at Manhattan Criminal Court on Feb. 15.Steven Hirsch / Pool via Getty Images file

The trial in the New York hush money case against former President Donald Trump has been delayed until the middle of April, Judge Juan Merchan ruled Friday.

Merchan said the trial — originally scheduled to begin March 25 — would be pushed back 30 days from Friday.

He also scheduled a hearing for the trial's initial start date, to discuss a motion filed by Trump's attorneys regarding document production in the case.

Merchan said he will set a new trial date “if necessary” when he rules on that motion, meaning it's possible the trial proceedings could be delayed beyond the middle of next month.

Bragg's office and Trump’s lawyers declined to comment.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg had previously said he would support the trial being delayed at least 30 days, into late April. Trump's legal team requested that it be postponed 90 days.

Bragg said Thursday that Trump's request to delay the trial was the result of the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan providing over 100,000 pages of discovery, which Bragg said were "largely irrelevant to the subject matter of this case." The U.S. Attorney's Office provided an additional 15,000 pages of discovery on Friday, which Bragg's office said were also "likely to be unrelated to the subject matter of this case."

The documents relate to Michael Cohen’s guilty plea in 2018 to numerous criminal charges, including making secret payments to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump, lying to Congress about Trump's business dealings with Russia and failing to report millions of dollars in income.

Merchan on Friday directed Trump’s lawyers and Bragg’s office to provide him with a “detailed timeline of the events surrounding the requests for ultimate production of documents” which served “as the basis” of Bragg’s Thursday letter, where he said his office does not oppose a 30-day trial delay.

The judge said the timeline, due Thursday, should include subpoenas, emails, notes and messages in order for “this Court to properly asses who, if anyone, is at fault for the late production of the documents, what prejudice, if any, was suffered by either party and what sanction(s) if any, are appropriate.” 

Bragg's office brought the case against Trump, accusing the former president of falsifying business records related to Cohen’s $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels toward the end of the 2016 presidential campaign.

In mid-February, Merchan scheduled the trial to begin on March 25. He said he expected it would last about six weeks. He had made clear he wasn't interested in postponing the trial, as Trump's lawyers had requested.

Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to the hush money payments to Daniels. He has pleaded not guilty.

Trump and his legal team have sought dismissals and delays of the four criminal cases he’s facing. The strategy has proven successful on some fronts. The federal election interference case is indefinitely on hold pending a Supreme Court ruling, and some of the charges in the Georgia case have been dropped.

As of now, the hush money case is the one most likely to go to trial first, and before the election.

In a statement after Merchan's order Friday, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said, “We will continue to fight to end this hoax, and all of the other Crooked Joe Biden-directed Witch Hunts, once and for all.”