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Manhattan DA proposes last-minute delay to Trump’s hush money trial

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has asked the judge overseeing the criminal case against Donald Trump to delay the trial by as much as 30 days – just two weeks before it is set to occur.

On Thursday, Mr Bragg asked a judge to push back the trial so prosecutors could review approximately 31,000 pages of records that were submitted by the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) on Wednesday.

Those records, which Mr Bragg said were requested more than a year ago, are related to a federal investigation into Michael Cohen – whose testimony Mr Bragg used to build the case in which he is accusing Mr Trump of falsifying business records.

Mr Bragg said that while most of the filings are unrelated to the case, he noted approximately 172 pages of witness statements could be relevant. He added that prosecutors are prepared to go to trial as expected on 25 March and find no merit for dismissal but “do not oppose a brief adjournment of up to 30 days”.

The former president’s team sought to delay the case earlier this week when they asked Judge Juan Merchan to pause the trial until the US Supreme Court rules on his “presidential immunity” claim.

Alvin Bragg (REUTERS)
Alvin Bragg (REUTERS)

The Manhattan criminal case against Mr Trump, who is the Republican frontrunner, was set to be the first of his trials to occur before Election Day.

Last year, a grand jury in Manhattan indicted the former president in the first of what would become four criminal cases. He was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush-money payments that Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels to prevent the release of potential reputation-damaging information before the 2016 presidential election.

He was then indicted in Washington DC for alleged federal election interference, in Florida for allegedly retaining classified documents and then in Georgia for alleged state election interference.

Despite the criminal indictments, Mr Trump is still seeking re-election this year and part of his campaign strategy is to delay his trials as much as possible.

So far, Mr Trump’s team has successfully delayed his criminal trial in Washington DC and Florida through various motions to dismiss and appeals. The criminal trial against him in Georgia was slated to go to trial in August, though it’s highly questionable whether that proposed date will remain firm.

In his request to the judge, Mr Bragg accused Mr Trump’s team of trying to delay the criminal trial by failing to timely request materials from the USAO that could be relevant to the case.

“The timing of the USAO’s productions is a result solely of defendant’s delay despite the People’s diligence,” Mr Bragg wrote.

The Manhattan DA said that prosecutors requested materials from the USAO last year and Mr Trump’s team had access to them in June 2023 but then didn’t subpoena additional materials until January and then allowed the USAO to consistently extend the deadline to produce materials.

The result was 31,000 pages of additional records being dropped suddenly on Wednesday with another production of materials anticipated to drop next week.

In response to Mr Bragg’s filing, Steven Cheun, a spokesperson for Mr Trump’s campaign, said “President Trump and his counsel have been consistent and steadfast that this case has no basis in law or fact, and should be dismissed.

“Today, after conceding serious discovery violations by his office, the Manhattan DA agreed to an adjournment. We will continue to fight to end this Hoax, and all of the other Crooked Joe Biden - directed Witch Hunts, once and for all.”