Trump Makes Accusation Against Judge 1 Day Before ‘Hush-Money’ Trial Begins
Trump Makes Accusation Against Judge 1 Day Before ‘Hush-Money’ Trial Begins

By Jack Phillips

Former President Donald Trump on Sunday accused the judge overseeing the “hush-money” case of giving his lawyers a short period of time to review “hundreds of thousands” of documents a day before his New York trial is scheduled to start.

In a post on Truth Social, the former president alleged Judge Juan Merchan is “conflicted” in the case, only giving his team “a short period of time to read and study hundreds of thousands of pages of documents that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg illegally hid, disguised, and held back from us.”

“Of course, and as the Judge knows, we need far more time than that,” President Trump added. “They could have started this Fake Biden Trial many years ago, not right in the middle of my campaign for President, and time would not be a problem. This is a blatant and unprecedented attack on Crooked Joe Biden’s Political Opponent.”

According to court papers, prosecutors under Mr. Bragg said they provided more than 10 million pages of documents to President Trump’s lawyers between May and July of last year, including witness statements, grand jury transcripts, bank records, and other materials.

Earlier this year, President Trump’s lawyers asked for another 90 days to review the documents, but their request was denied by Judge Merchan, who scheduled the jury selection in the trial for Monday, April 15.

Last month, President Trump’s attorneys accused the district attorney’s office of attempting to block their attempts to obtain materials from the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney in the case.

In the past week, Judge Merchan denied several attempts by President Trump’s lawyers to delay the trial, most recently issuing an order Friday to deny the postponement over allegations regarding publicity about the case.

Among other things, President Trump’s lawyers had argued that the jury pool was deluged with what the defense saw as “exceptionally prejudicial” news coverage of the case. The defense maintained that was a reason to hold off the case indefinitely.

Judge Juan M. Merchan wrote that the former president “appears to take the position that his situation and this case are unique and that the pre-trial publicity will never subside. However, this view does not align with reality.”

In a court filing last month, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche had argued that “potential jurors in Manhattan have been exposed to huge amounts of biased and unfair media coverage relating to this case.”

“Many of the potential jurors already wrongfully believe that President Trump is guilty,” Mr. Blanche added, citing the defense’s review of media articles and other research it conducted.

The lawyer argued that their review found 1,223 articles published online about the case from mid-January to late February and that many of them “unfairly and improperly ‘demonized’” President Trump.

His lawyers also said former lawyer Michael Cohen and another potential witness, adult performer Stephanie Clifford, also known by her stage name Stormy Daniels, were driving negative coverage of President Trump. They pointed to Mr. Cohen’s constant criticism of President Trump on his podcasts and social media feeds and to publicity surrounding the release of a documentary about Ms. Clifford, which premiered last month on the NBC streaming service Peacock.

The New York case is the first of his four criminal indictments slated to go to trial and would be the first criminal trial ever of a former president. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks during a press conference following the arraignment of former U.S. President Donald Trump in New York City on April 4, 2023. (Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

In the case, President Trump is accused of doctoring his company’s records to hide the real reason for payments to Mr. Cohen, his former lawyer, during his 2016 campaign. Mr. Cohen’s alleged activities included paying Ms. Clifford $130,000 to suppress her story about an alleged encounter that occurred in the mid-2000s, which President Trump has denied.

The former president’s lawyers have contended that Judge Merchan should step down from the case. They’ve accused him of bias and a conflict of interest, citing his daughter’s work as the head of a firm whose clients have included President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and other Democrats.

As for the trial, jury selection starts on Monday, and the trial is expected to last for about eight weeks. Unlike several civil fraud cases he’s faced, President Trump will be mandated to show up to court every day the trial is in session to participate in his defense.

The former president has said that he may hold campaign-related events in the evening, while he’s also suggested he may testify in the case.

During a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, President Trump said that “I will be forced to sit” through what he described as a “show trial.” In February, he told reporters that “they want to keep me nice and busy, so I can’t campaign so hard.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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