Trump's NY hush money trial may be delayed a month or more by a last-minute evidence feud: court docs

Trump's NY hush money trial may be delayed a month or more by a last-minute evidence feud: court docs
  • Trump's felony hush money trial had been scheduled to begin March 25 in Manhattan.

  • Prosecutors now say they'd agree to a 30-day delay, while the defense is demanding a 90-day delay.

  • Talk of delay was triggered by federal prosecutors producing 73,000 pages of long-awaited evidence.

Donald Trump's felony hush money trial, long scheduled to begin March 25, may be delayed by a month or longer due to federal officials' last-minute production of 73,000 pages of evidence concerning their 2018 prosecution of Michael Cohen.

Manhattan prosecutors are willing to delay jury selection by up to 30 days so that the defense will have time to review the newly produced federal evidence, they said Thursday in a letter to the trial judge, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.

Defense lawyers, meanwhile, are demanding "dismissal of the Indictment and severe sanctions," against Manhattan prosecutors as punishment for this late production of evidence, they said in a motion made public Thursday. Short of that, the defense is asking that the trial date be delayed by at least 90 days.

Meanwhile, as they wait for Merchan to calm the chaos and pick a new trial-start date, lawyers for Trump and for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg are filing dueling court documents that blame each other for the delay.

Bragg's side said it has shown only "diligence" in seeking evidence relating to Cohen's federal prosecution. The defense has only dragged its feet in seeking the same evidence, prosecutors said.

But in his own filing, Trump attorney Todd Blanche countered that Bragg's lawyers "have engaged in widespread misconduct" by attempting to "suppress" the federal evidence in an effort to improve their chances at trial.

"The People should have collected all of these documents long ago," Blanche claimed in his motion.

"Instead, they collected some materials but left others with the federal authorities, in the hope that President Trump would never get them," his motion says.

Both sides appear to agree that the delay was triggered by some 73,000 pages of records — sought for months by both the DA's office and the defense — that have been turned over in tranches throughout this month by the US Attorney's Office.

Of that massive evidence dump, some 31,000 pages were turned over only Wednesday, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Matthew Colangelo wrote in a letter to the trial judge on Thursday.

More pages are expected to be turned over by federal prosecutors next week, Colangelo wrote.

But each side is accusing the other of footdragging in pursuing this last-minute evidence, which includes federal grand jury minutes, tapes, witness lists and other documents relating to Cohen — the former Trump fixer who is now a key hush-money prosecution witness.

In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to charges that included making an illegal campaign contribution on Trump's behalf, namely the same $130,000 hush money payment at the center of Trump's upcoming state trial.

Michael Cohen Donald Trump
Michael Cohen and former President Donald Trump.REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz; Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The 2016 payment, which purchased porn star Stormy Daniels' silence just 11 days before the presidential election, was made "at the direction of" Trump, Cohen said. He is expected to repeat that account at Trump's upcoming trial.

At the time of the payment, Daniels was about to go public with her account of having slept with Trump during a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in 2008. The alleged tryst was shortly after Melania Trump gave birth to their son, Barron Trump.

So far, Manhattan prosecutors have confirmed that only 176 pages of the newly-produced materials appear to be relevant to Trump's case, Colangelo said in his letter to Merchan, the hush-money judge.

The evidence turned over Wednesday appears to include additional material related to the state case, Colangelo added.

The assistant prosecutor blamed the late, ongoing evidence dump — and the resulting need for a delay — on federal prosecutors and the Trump defense.

The materials turned over Wednesday included evidence that Manhattan prosecutors requested from federal prosecutors "more than a year ago and that the USAO previously declined to provide," Colangelo complained in his letter to the judge, using the acronym for US Attorney's Office.

The materials are being produced in response to a subpoena that defense lawyers first served on the US Attorney's Office back in January, Colangelo also wrote.

"Defendant waited until January 18, 2024, to subpoena additional materials from the USAO and then consented to repeated extensions of the deadline for the USAO's determination," the assistant prosecutor wrote.

"The timing of the USAO's productions is a result solely of defendant's delay despite the People's diligence."

Manhattan prosecutors remain ready to start trial on March 25, but would agree to a delay of up to 30 days "in an abundance of caution," Colangelo wrote.

Merchan has not indicated when he will decide on the dismissal request or the trial date.

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