Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Judge denies Donald Trump's request to postpone hush-money trial until Supreme Court decides on immunity

A judge on Wednesday rejected Donald Trump's request to delay his April 15 hush money criminal trial until the Supreme Court rules on presidential immunity claims he raised in another of his criminal cases in New York.

A judge in New York rejected Donald Trump’s attempt to delay his criminal trial for paying hush money until the Supreme Court rules on his claims of presidential immunity in another criminal case.

Manhattan Judge Juan M. Merchan said that the former president’s request was not made in a timely manner, as his lawyers had many chances to bring up the immunity issue before finally doing so in a court filing on March 7.

The timing of the defense filing creates doubts about the sincerity and actual purpose of the motion, according to Merchan's six-page decision.

Trump's lawyers had requested to postpone the New York trial indefinitely last month until Trump’s immunity claim in his Washington, D.C., election interference case is resolved.

Merchan had previously criticized Trump’s lawyers for missing a filing deadline, waiting until 2½ weeks before jury selection to raise the immunity issue, and failing to explain the reason for the late filing.

Trump argues that he is immune from prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his time in office. His lawyers claim that some evidence in the hush money case is from his tenure in the White House and constitutes official acts. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on April 25.

Trump first brought up the immunity issue in his Washington criminal case, which involves allegations that he tried to overturn the 2020 election results before the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump's lawyer, Todd Blanche, declined to comment. The Manhattan district attorney’s office also declined to comment.

Trump’s hush-money trial, the first of his four criminal cases scheduled for a jury trial, was postponed from March 25 to April 15 due to another issue.

Recently, Trump's lawyers have been pushing for further delays. In separate court filings, they asked the judge to indefinitely postpone the trial until the negative media coverage diminishes and claimed that he won’t receive a fair trial in heavily Democratic Manhattan.

On Wednesday, prosecutors opposed that request, arguing that publicity about the case is unlikely to decrease, and that the jury selection process, with additional questions to detect biases, will enable them to select an impartial jury. They also stated that Trump's own continuous public statements are generating significant publicity, and it would be unfair to delay the trial based on media attention he is actively seeking.

The hush money case revolves around allegations that Trump altered his company’s internal records to hide the true nature of payments to his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who assisted Trump in suppressing negative stories during his 2016 presidential campaign. Among other things, Cohen paid porn actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about her claims of an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump years earlier.

Trump’s lawyers contend that some evidence Manhattan prosecutors plan to present at the hush money trial, including messages he posted on social media in 2018 about money paid to Cohen, were from his time as president and constituted official acts.

Trump said he did not commit the 34 felony charges of falsifying business records last year. He has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels, and his lawyers argue the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal expenses and not part of any cover-up.

Last year, a federal judge rejected Trump's claim that allegations in the hush money indictment involved official duties, rejecting his attempt to move the case from state court to federal court. If the case had been moved to federal court, Trump's lawyers could have tried to get the charges dismissed on the grounds that federal officials have immunity from prosecution over actions taken as part of their official duties.

It is not known whether a former president is immune from federal prosecution for official acts taken in office from a legal perspective.

Prosecutors in the Washington case have said that no such immunity exists and, in any event, none of the actions Trump is alleged to have taken in the indictment charging him with plotting to overturn the 2020 presidential election after he lost to Democrat Joe Biden count as official acts.

The trial judge in Washington and a federal appeals court have both ruled against Trump, but the high court agreed last month to give the matter fresh consideration — a decision that delays the federal case in Washington and brings fresh uncertainty as to when it might reach trial.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments