Trump makes long-shot bid to delay New York hush money trial

Former President Donald Trump asked a judge on Monday to pause his upcoming criminal trial in New York until the Supreme Court issues a ruling on the scope of presidential immunity.

Lawyers for the former president are seeking to pause the trial that’s slated to begin March 25 in a case charging him with 34 counts of falsifying business records stemming from a hush money payment to a porn star during his 2016 campaign. If the long-shot bid to pause proceedings were approved, it could delay the trial by several weeks, and possibly months.

The request could be an uphill battle for Trump, as he has not previously asserted the presidential immunity argument in the hush money case, despite relying on it for attempts to dismiss his two federal criminal indictments and in civil litigation. Nevertheless, Trump’s lawyers argue prosecutors for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) plan to introduce at trial “several types of evidence that implicate the concept of official acts for purposes of presidential immunity.”

Donald Trump and Alvin Bragg.
Donald Trump and Alvin Bragg. | AP

“Therefore, President Trump respectfully submits that an adjournment of the trial is appropriate to await further guidance from the Supreme Court, which should facilitate the appropriate application of the presidential immunity doctrine in this case to the evidence the People intend to offer at trial,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in their 26-page motion.

Trump’s attorneys said prosecutors want “to offer evidence at trial concerning a fictitious so-called ‘pressure campaign’ by President Trump in 2018 relating to Michael Cohen,” according to the filing, which noted that such evidence includes Trump’s public statements and tweets about Cohen that “fell within the outer perimeter of his Presidential duty.”

The request comes just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Trump’s presidential immunity claim arising from his federal 2020 election subversion case in Washington, D.C. Justices will hear arguments in that case on April 25, and it could take until the end of June for them to render an opinion.

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Trump’s argument that he cannot be prosecuted due to presidential immunity has not been successful in federal court so far. His trial court judge rejected that argument in December, and a three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals later denied it as well, though the case remains on hold while the Supreme Court considers that matter.

The former president has also filed a motion that he is immune from prosecution due to presidential immunity and several other factors in his criminal classified documents case, as well as the Georgia election subversion case.

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