“New York hush money case will be first Trump criminal trial, scheduled for March”


 A judge said Thursday that jury selection for Donald Trump’s trial would begin on March 25, setting a date with history for what would be the first criminal prosecution of an ex-president — one who also leads the Republican field of 2024 candidates for the White House.

Trump watched from a defense table in Manhattan criminal court as New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan said he will go forward with the trial on charges the former president falsified business records during the heat of the 2016 political campaign in order to keep secret a past sexual liaison with an adult film star. The judge said he expects the trial to take roughly six weeks.

Defense attorney Todd Blanche pushed back hard, saying the defense team needs more time to prepare and that a trial will unfairly intervene with the former president’s quest to return to the White House. He also noted that Trump is scheduled for trial in late May in Florida, on charges of illegally retaining classified documents and obstructing government attempts to retrieve them. The judge in that case, however, has indicated she may delay the proceedings to allow more time for the lawyers to review highly classified evidence….

There is still a chance the New York trial could end up taking a back seat to a separate federal case against Trump for allegedly conspiring to obstruct the results of the 2020 election. But those charges, filed in Washington, have been hung up for months on an appeals fight over Trump’s claims of presidential immunity. While one appeals court ruled unanimously against him, Trump may still try to make that argument to the Supreme Court, which could keep that trial on hold for weeks or months more….

Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records, a felony in New York where there is an intent to defraud that includes intent to “commit another crime or to aid or conceal” a crime. In announcing the charges, Bragg said the goal of Trump’s scheme was to cover up violations of New York election law, which makes it a crime to conspire to illegally promote a candidate. Bragg also said the $130,000 payment exceeded the federal campaign contribution cap.

I’ve been skeptical of this prosecution as a felony. See my April 2023 Slate piece, Donald Trump Probably Should Not Have Been Charged With (This) Felony.

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