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By Sarah May on
 February 16, 2024

Judge says Trump's New York 'hush money' trial will begin on March 25th

As Donald Trump's legal battles continue to pick up steam, a New York judge this week denied the former president's request to reject the Stormy Daniels “hush money” case outright and instead ruled that jury selection in the matter will commence on March 25, as reported by The Hill

Though there is always the possibility that some intervening event could disrupt those plans, Judge Juan Merchan stated that “at this point,” the proceedings will begin on the previously announced timeline, one which would potentially yield a verdict well before the presidential nomination process and the November election have concluded.

Trial commencement date set

During a heated proceeding on Thursday, lawyers for Trump pleaded their case for why the trial should be delayed, making particular reference to the various other high-stakes legal matters in which the current GOP front runner is involved.

Todd Blanche, representing the former president, stated, “We have been faced with extremely compressed and expedited schedules in each and every one of those trials.”

Bolstering that argument, Blanche characterized any move to proceed with a March trial date as akin to election interference, given the large number of presidential primary elections and caucuses scheduled in the near future.

Underscoring the packed calendar that is at play, Blanche said, “As it stands now, starting on March 1, through the time we expect this trial to end, by my count, there are 42 primaries and caucuses during that time period.”

Merchan, who also denied the Trump lawyers' efforts to have the indictment thrown out in its entirety, remained unmoved, and ruled that the March trial start date would stay in effect.

Taking the lead

Though Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's 2023 decision to bring charges against Trump was the first of the criminal cases he currently faces, it was thought for some time that it would have to take a backseat to the federal cases in which he was subsequently indicated.

Specifically, many legal observers assumed that the federal election interference case overseen by Judge Tanya Chutkan would reach the trial stage first, but a series of appeals and procedural hurdles in that case has led to what may be a substantial delay in getting to the next phase in that matter.

In a nod to that reality, Judge Merchan said this week, “As you know, there's a lot of moving parts in the D.C. case. Nobody knows what's going to happen and when it's going to happen.”

Shaky legal ground?

The so-called “hush money” case against Trump began with D.A. Alvin Bragg's 2023 decision to bring 34 counts of falsification of business records against the former president in conjunction of reimbursements he made to former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who had paid adult entertainer Stormy Daniels to remain mum about an affair that Trump said never occurred.

Though opponents of the former president were delighted when Bragg announced charges last year, not all legal experts are convinced about the strength of the arguments he will have to make in order to secure a conviction.

Bragg is attempting to use allegations of a crime that would ordinarily have been a time-barred misdemeanor offense and turn it into a felony by claiming that the conduct at issue was done in furtherance of a federal campaign finance law violation, as the New York Post explained last year.

That, according to George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, amounts to an “outrageous” and “illegally pathetic” ploy by Bragg, and although the D.A. may initially find a receptive audience among members of New York City jury, “once it gets to the appellate level, he's going to have a particularly difficult time.”

Written By:
Sarah May

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