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Trump’s First Criminal Trial Set for April 15 Over Hush Money Payments

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Trump's First Criminal Trial Set for April 15 Over Hush Money Payments

(CTN News) – Donald Trump will face the first criminal prosecution of a former US president on April 15, according to a court, for hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Mr Trump is facing four criminal charges, but this could be the only one to reach a tribunal before the November election.

The presidential candidate’s lawyers sought to delay or dismiss the case.

Trump Claims Trial is “Election Interference”: What’s at Stake

Mr Trump, 77, is facing fraud allegations for payments he made to Ms Daniels before the 2016 election.

He has pleaded not guilty to all 34 accusations, claiming that the allegations do not constitute “a crime”.

During his campaign to reclaim the White House, the former president and his legal team attempted to postpone as many of his trials as possible.

Despite the defense’s concerns, Justice Juan Merchan ruled on Monday that there was no reason to postpone Trump’s hush money trial any longer, and the trial will begin on April 15.

After spending much of Monday morning sitting next to his attorneys in court, Mr. Trump told reporters that the matter should be classified as “election interference”.

“It’s a disgrace, and we will be appealing,” he said. “But this is a pure case of voter intimidation and election interference, and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen.”

The trial was scheduled to begin with jury selection on Monday, but it was postponed when thousands of documents from the 2018 FBI probe into Ms Daniels’ payments were made public last week.

Justice Merchan instead scheduled a hearing on Monday to determine whether there was any misconduct in the abrupt release last week of more than 100,000 pages of documents about the federal prosecutor’s case.

Trump’s team argued that the Manhattan district attorney’s office committed wrongdoing by failing to do enough to persuade federal prosecutors to turn over the records on time. They contended that prosecutors were seeking to “suppress” evidence.

Mr Trump’s counsel requested papers from the federal lawsuit in January, and the document release followed that request. Justice Merchan questioned why the defense had not shared the lengthy wait with him earlier.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office agreed to a 30-day delay in reviewing the records, but prosecutors stated at the hearing that only 300 new documents needed to be assessed.

They stated that they would be ready to go to trial by mid-April.

However, Mr Trump’s legal team pressed for extra time to analyze the documents.

On Monday, Justice Merchan questioned Mr Trump’s counsel about how many “thousands” of papers they would consider relevant and required scrutiny in this case.

Judge Questions Defense Claims of Prosecutorial Misconduct

Mr Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, gave a wide picture of the fresh batch, claiming it included data from the Robert Mueller investigation, the federal probe into Russian influence in the 2016 election.

He claimed that the relevant records numbered in the hundreds, not the 300 figure supplied by prosecutors. He contended that Mr Trump’s legal staff needed time to thoroughly review the records.

“We got the material a week ago,” Mr. Blanche explained. “We’re still going through them.”

However, the court appeared impatient and unconvinced by the attorney’s allegations, especially the allegation that prosecutors acted unethically.

“You’re literally accusing the Manhattan DA’s office, and people assigned to this case, of engaging in prosecutorial misconduct and trying to make me complicit in it,” the judge stated.

Before adjourning for a break, the judge made it apparent that he was not satisfied by the arguments.

“It’s odd that we’re even here and that we’ve taken this time,” he said.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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