Trump attends high-stakes trial in New York's “hush money” case

Former President Donald Trump will attend a high court hearing in Manhattan on Monday, less than three weeks before the scheduled start. Criminal investigation – This would be a first in American history.

A trial in the case, which centered on what Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Brock said was falsified business records in repayment of “hush money” payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, was originally scheduled to begin Monday.

As Trump entered the courtroom Monday morning, he called the trial a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.” He has Innocent to the charges.

There was a test schedule Derailed in early March When the Judiciary transferred new material related to the case to both sides. Judge Juan Mercon called for a hearing on Monday to resolve issues surrounding the new documents, but was unconvinced by the defense team's arguments.

“[Prosecutors] They went above and beyond what they should have done and it's really odd that we're taking this time,” the judge said at one point.

Hearing on Monday

Former President Donald Trump and Trump's attorney Susan Nechels in a courtroom Monday, March 25, 2024, in New York.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

Trump's defense has asked for a lengthy trial delay — up to three months — or an outright dismissal, accusing Bragg's office of deliberately making insufficient efforts to obtain the documents. Prosecutors said they had requested the documents last year, and the Justice Department initially refused, only to reverse in response to a defense subpoena.

The documents turned over in early March included more than 100,000 pages of bank records and related emails related to the Justice Department's investigation into Trump's former “fixer” and lawyer, Michael Cohen. Cohen entered a guilty plea to tax evasion in 2018 in a federal case and is now a key witness against Trump in the New York case.

Merchan said he wants to determine who is responsible for the documentation issues at Monday's hearing and if any sanctions are needed to resolve the dispute. “There are no significant questions of fact to be resolved,” he noted.

The question is “how do we characterize the nature and scope” of the state's obligation to produce documents for the defense, known as pretrial discovery. The district attorney's office argued that they were not obligated to submit judicial documents. The number of records related to the case is relatively small — about 300 out of 100,000, said attorney Matthew Colangelo.

Trump's attorney, Todd Blanch, argued that “thousands and thousands” of records would be relevant and that the defense needed more time to sort through them. He also revealed that federal prosecutors informed him Sunday night that they wanted to hand over additional records related to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Merchan questioned Blanche about her allegation that the district attorney's office intentionally withheld material to be handed over to the defense. He said the defense's motion to dismiss cites a statute that says prosecutors must produce materials from any office within its jurisdiction. Merson asked Blanche if there was any case showing the federal US attorney's office was patronizing local prosecutors.

“It's really confusing that you don't have a case to cite right now, because all the allegations the defense is making are incredibly serious, incredibly serious,” Merson said, his voice rising. “You're literally accusing the Manhattan DA's office and the appointees of this case of prosecutorial misconduct and trying to make me complicit, and you don't have a case to cite?”

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