Donald Trump’s bid to delay hush-money trial denied by New York judge

A New York judge on Wednesday denied Donald Trump’s bid to delay his trial on charges stemming from hush money paid to Stormy Daniels until the US supreme court reviews his claim to presidential immunity in a separate criminal case.

The case in Manhattan in front of judge Juan Merchan is scheduled to begin on 15 April.

Merchan deemed the former president’s request untimely, ruling that his lawyers had myriad opportunities to raise the immunity issue before they finally did so in a 7 March court filing.

Lawyers for the presumptive Republican nominee for the 2020 presidential election had asked to adjourn the New York trial indefinitely until Trump’s immunity claim in his Washington DC election interference federal criminal case is resolved.

Merchan previously chided Trump’s lawyers for missing a filing deadline, waiting until two and a half weeks before jury selection to raise the immunity issue and failing to “explain the reason for the late filing”.

Trump contends he is immune from prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office. His lawyers argue some of the evidence and alleged acts in the hush money case overlap with his time in the White House and constitute official acts.

Jury selection in the first-ever criminal trial of a former US president is scheduled to begin on 15 April. Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up his former lawyer Michael Cohen’s $130,000 hush-money payment to the adult film star Stormy Daniels for her silence before the 2016 election about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump.

Two days ago, Merchan expanded a gag order against Trump, preventing the former president from making inflammatory comments about the judge’s family members, after they became the target of Trump’s personal attacks.

The new protective order continues to allow Trump to rail against the judge and the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, who charged Trump last year with falsifying records to cover up a sex scandal before the 2016 election.

But Trump is now expressly prohibited from assailing the family members of any lawyers or court staff involved in the case, as well as family members of the judge and the district attorney, the New York supreme court justice Juan Merchan wrote in the revised order.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed reporting

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