Hush money judge eviscerates Trump’s ‘untenable’ motion to delay trial due to ‘pretrial publicity’

Hush money judge eviscerates Trump’s ‘untenable’ motion to delay trial due to ‘pretrial publicity’
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Alvin Bragg; Donald Trump
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg won his latest pretrial victory Friday over Donald Trump

  • Trump’s hush money trial remains on track for Monday jury selection after a decision Friday night.
  • Judge Juan Merchan denied Trump’s bid to delay the trial due to “pretrial publicity.”
  • The judge has yet to rule on one last pretrial delay bid, a defense request that he recuse himself.

Donald Trump’s hush money trial remained on track for Monday jury selection after the judge on Friday night denied — in no uncertain terms — a defense bid to delay the trial indefinitely due to prejudicial pretrial publicity.

“This is not tenable,” the trial judge, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, said in his decision, noting that much of the pretrial publicity has been caused by Trump himself.

Delaying the trial “is simply not an adequate remedy when there is a chance the postponement may become indefinite,” the judge wrote, in his most blisteringly-worded decision in the case to date.

Friday night’s decision leaves just one potentially trial-delaying matter yet decided before Monday.

But it’s the longest of longshots: Trump’s request that the judge recuse himself from the case because his daughter is a partner at a Chicago-based political consultancy firm that had repped such big-name Democrats as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

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Merchan had rejected a nearly identical defense recusal motion in August, after the state Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics found the daughter’s independent political activities provided insufficient basis to question the judge’s impartiality.

“Defendant appears to take the position that his situation and this case are unique and that the pre-trial publicity will never subside,” the judge wrote in Friday’s decision.

“However, this view does not align with reality,” he wrote.

“In just the past 12 months, Defendant has very publicly been involved in a multitude of criminal and civil cases across several states in both federal and state jurisdictions,” he wrote.

“In this County alone, Defendant has had two civil trials, one in State Court and the other in Federal Court,” the judge wrote, referring to Trump’s previous Manhattan cases — a civil fraud trial and his E. Jean Carroll defamation case.

Losing those two cases resulted in well over a half-billion-dollars in judgments against him. Trump has posted bonds covering both judgments while he appeals.

“In those two matters, he was personally responsible for generating much, if not most, of the surrounding publicity with his public statements, which were often made just a few steps outside the courtroom where the proceedings were being conducted, and with his unrelenting media posts attacking those he perceived to be responsible for his plight,” the judge wrote.

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“The situation Defendant finds himself in now is not new to him and at least in part, of his own doing.”

Defense attorneys Susan Necheles and Todd Blanche had argued that “prejudicial media coverage has saturated the venire,” or jury pool, and that Manhattan is “overwhelmingly biased” against him.

They said that a fair jury could not be chosen any time in April, and asked Merchan to delay the trial indefinitely.

“President Trump’s Constitutional right to a fair trial is at stake,” the defense wrote in a March 18 delay motion that included 180 pages of supporting documents.

Defense-hired pollsters found that 61% of Manhattan potential jurors already believe Trump is guilty of something, nearly twice the rate of surrounding counties, they argued.

Just 35% believed Trump was guilty in the hush-money case specifically.

Prosecutors had questioned the defense poll’s methodology, and Merchan on Friday agreed.

The poll “provides no information about how it obtained the contact information of respondents or how it ensured its samples were actually random or representative,” the judge wrote.

Prosecutors also argued that the onslaught of pretrial publicity is in large part Trump’s own fault, and that jury selection will effectively weed out biased prospective jurors.

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“Defendant’s own incessant rhetoric is generating significant publicity, and it would be perverse to reward defendant with an adjournment based on media attention he is actively seeking,” lawyers for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg had written in opposing the delay.

Last week, Trump lost a Manhattan appellate court bid for an emergency delay of the trial on pretrial publicity grounds.

That appellate effort is still ongoing and argues that the trial should be moved out of Manhattan altogether.

Trump on Monday is set to become the first former president ever to stand trial on criminal charges.

Prosecutors allege he falsified 34 Trump Organization business records — including invoices, checks, and ledger entries — to hide a $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels that silenced her just 11 days before the 2016 election.

Trump has denied the charges and Daniels’ claim that she was paid to hide a 2006 sexual encounter with the then-Apprentice star.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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