Judge delays Trump hush money trial until mid-April

Former President Trump’s hush money judge in New York has delayed the upcoming trial until mid-April after new evidence was turned over to the parties, aiding the former president’s goal of delaying his criminal trials.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin March 25, which would’ve marked Trump’s first criminal trial, but Judge Juan Merchan agreed to push it back after prosecutors consented to the one-month delay.

The new curveball came after the parties informed the judge the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has turned over more than 70,000 pages of records in recent days, some of which are relevant to the case.

Merchan said he would adjourn the trial date for 30 days from his Friday letter and instead hold a hearing on March 25 to discuss the schedule and the new documents.

“The Court will set the new trial date, if necessary, when it rules on Defendant’s motion following the hearing,” Merchan wrote. “This Court’s directive that the parties, including the Defendant, not engage or otherwise enter into any commitment pending completion of this trial remains in effect.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s (D) office had said it was ready for trial as scheduled, but it indicated it wouldn’t oppose a 30-day delay out of an “abundance of caution.” Trump’s legal team has said the new documents require a delay that extends beyond late April.

“For now, however, an adjournment is necessary, and thirty days is not sufficient given the volume of recently produced materials and the nature of the ongoing dispute,” Trump attorneys Todd Blanche and Susan Necheles wrote in a letter to the judge Thursday.

Trump’s lawyers and Bragg’s have sparred over the new documents, however. Bragg’s office said it previously requested the records and pinned the blame on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but Trump’s lawyers accused Bragg of trying to “rewrite the record.”

Federal prosecutors are making their final production of documents on Friday, court filings show.

At the hearing, Merchan said he would review the delay in getting the records from federal prosecutors, asking each side to submit a detailed timeline, including their correspondence with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“The correspondence must include but not be limited to letters, subpoenas, e-mails, notes, messages, etc. The requested documents are necessary for this Court to properly assess 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,” Merchan wrote.

The delay is just the latest move to benefit Trump as he broadly seeks to delay his numerous criminal trials.

On April 25, the Supreme Court is set to weigh the immunity claims Trump raised in his election interference case.

His trial for his efforts leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, and related proceedings have been put on ice while the high court considers the matter.

And in the hush money trial, Trump has filed a separate motion seeking to toss evidence based on his immunity claims, likewise suggesting the entire case be paused while the Supreme Court weighs the matter.

He has separately in the case claimed that prosecutors engaged in discovery violations, arguing his charges should be tossed entirely and prosecutors should be sanctioned. Bragg’s office has pushed back on those accusations, insisting it has met its obligations.

The judge made clear he’ll keep the upcoming hearing narrowly focused, however.

“This Court stresses that the hearing will be limited to the specific issue of Defendant’s motion to dismiss on the grounds of the People’s alleged discovery violations related to the production of records by USAO-SDNY — only,” Merchan wrote.

Trump’s campaign maintained the case should be dismissed.

“President Trump and his counsel have been consistent and steadfast that this case has no basis in law or fact, and should be dismissed,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement. “Today, after the Manhattan DA conceded violations by his office, the judge, in adjourning the trial, ordered a hearing to hold DA Bragg accountable for misconduct. We will continue to fight to end this hoax, and all of the other Crooked Joe Biden-directed Witch Hunts, once and for all.”

Updated at 7:13 p.m.

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