Appeals Court Rejects Donald Trump’s Latest Attempt to Delay April 15 Hush Money Criminal Trial |

Appeals Court Rejects Donald Trump’s Latest Attempt to Delay April 15 Hush Money Criminal Trial

A New York appeals court judge has rejected the latest bid by former President Donald Trump to delay his hush money criminal trial.

via: AP

Barring further court action, the ruling clears the way for jury selection to begin next week.

Justice Cynthia Kern’s ruling is yet another loss for Trump, who has tried repeatedly to get the trial postponed.

Trump’s lawyers had wanted the trial delayed until a full panel of appellate court judges could hear arguments on lifting or modifying a gag order that bans him from making public statements about jurors, witnesses and others connected to the hush-money case.

The presumptive Republican nominee’s lawyers argue the gag order is an unconstitutional prior restraint on Trump’s free speech rights while he’s campaigning for president and fighting criminal charges.

“The First Amendment harms arising from this gag order right now are irreparable,” Trump lawyer Emil Bove said at an emergency hearing Tuesday in the state’s mid-level appeals court.

Bove argued that Trump shouldn’t be muzzled while critics, including his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen and porn actor Stormy Daniels, routinely assail him. Both are key prosecution witnesses.

Steven Wu, the appellate chief for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, said there is a “public interest in protecting the integrity of the trial.”

“This is not political debate. These are insults,” Wu said of Trump’s statements.

The trial judge, Juan M. Merchan, issued the gag order last month at the urging of Manhattan prosecutors, who cited Trump’s “long history of making public and inflammatory remarks” about people involved in his legal cases.

Merchan expanded the gag order last week to prohibit comments about his own family after Trump lashed out on social media at his daughter, a Democratic political consultant, and made false claims about her.

It’s the second of back-to-back days for Trump’s lawyers in the appeals court.

On Monday, Associate Justice Lizbeth González rejected the defense’s request to delay the April 15 trial while Trump seeks to move his case out of heavily Democratic Manhattan.

Trump’s lawyers framed their gag order appeal as a lawsuit against Merchan. In New York, judges can be sued to challenge some decisions under a state law known as Article 78.

Trump has used the tactic before, including against the judge in his civil fraud trial in an unsuccessful last-minute bid to delay that case last fall and again when that judge imposed a gag order on him.

Trump’s hush-money criminal case involves allegations that he falsified his company’s records to hide the nature of payments to Cohen, who helped him bury negative stories during his 2016 campaign. Cohen’s activities included Daniels $130,000 to suppress her claims of an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump years earlier.

Trump pleaded not guilty last year to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. He has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels. His lawyers argue the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal expenses.

Trump has made numerous attempts to get the trial postponed, leaning into the strategy he proclaimed to TV cameras outside a February pretrial hearing: “We want delays.”

Last week, as Merchan swatted away various requests to delay the trial, Trump renewed his request for the judge to step aside from the case. The judge rejected a similar request last August.

Trump’s lawyers allege the judge is biased against him and has a conflict of interest because of his daughter Loren’s work as president of Authentic Campaigns, whose clients have included President Joe Biden and other Democrats. They complained the expanded gag order was shielding the Merchans “from legitimate public criticism.”

Merchan had long resisted imposing a gag order. At Trump’s arraignment in April 2023, he admonished Trump not to make statements that could incite violence or jeopardize safety, but stopped short of muzzling him. At a subsequent hearing, Merchan noted Trump’s “special” status as a former president and current candidate and said he was “bending over backwards” to ensure Trump has every opportunity “to speak in furtherance of his candidacy.”

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