Manhattan D.A. Proposes Delaying Trump Hush-Money Trial for Review of Records

Manhattan D.A. Seeks to Postpone Trump’s Hush-Money Trial for Comprehensive Record Review

In less than two weeks, Donald J. Trump is scheduled to face trial on criminal charges in Manhattan. This event marks a significant moment as it is the first time a former American president has been prosecuted. The prosecutors responsible for bringing the case forward have suggested a delay of up to 30 days. This proposal comes as a surprising twist in the unfolding legal drama.

The office of the Manhattan district attorney, which has accused Mr. Trump of concealing a sex scandal during and after his 2016 presidential campaign, believes the delay would allow Mr. Trump’s legal team adequate time to review a new set of records. These records, which the office had been seeking for over a year, were only recently handed over by federal prosecutors. These federal prosecutors had previously investigated the hush-money payments at the heart of the case.

Upon receiving the new records, which span tens of thousands of pages, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have asked for the trial to be postponed by 90 days. Although Mr. Trump often seeks such delays, the prosecutors’ agreement to any postponement significantly increases the likelihood of it happening.

Mr. Trump, who has recently secured the Republican presidential nomination for the third time, is facing four criminal trials and several civil lawsuits. Among these, the Manhattan case was the only criminal case moving forward without delay.

However, it now seems probable that this case will also experience a postponement. Despite this, it is still expected to go to trial before the upcoming Election Day.

In a court document, District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg stated that his team is ready to start the trial on March 25 as initially planned. However, they are not opposed to a 30-day delay. This decision is made out of caution and to ensure Mr. Trump has enough time to go through the new materials.

The decision to delay the trial ultimately lies with Judge Juan M. Merchan, who is overseeing the Manhattan case. It is still uncertain how and when he will make his ruling. Judge Merchan has consistently aimed to keep the case moving forward.

Any delay would likely be welcomed by the former president, who has made stalling a central strategy in dealing with his legal challenges. If Mr. Trump wins a second term in November, the criminal cases against him would be paused until he leaves office. This is because of a Justice Department policy that prevents a sitting president from being tried on criminal charges. The district attorney’s office is expected to follow this policy.

Mr. Trump’s lawyer has chosen not to comment on the potential delay of the Manhattan case. Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Mr. Trump’s campaign, stated, “President Trump and his counsel have consistently maintained that this case lacks a legal or factual basis and should be dismissed.”

A separate criminal case in Washington accuses Mr. Trump of attempting to overturn the 2020 election results. This trial was initially set for this month but has been delayed as Mr. Trump appeals to the Supreme Court.

The Manhattan case revolves around a hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, a porn star, during the 2016 campaign. Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer, paid Ms. Daniels $130,000 to prevent her from disclosing a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. When Mr. Trump reimbursed Mr. Cohen, his family business allegedly misrepresented these repayments as “legal expenses” in their internal records. This act continued a cover-up that kept potentially damaging information from voters just before the election.

In 2018, federal prosecutors in Manhattan discovered the deal and threatened to indict Mr. Cohen, who eventually pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations.

Mr. Bragg’s office had previously requested thousands of records from Manhattan prosecutors last year, but they were only recently provided. Mr. Bragg’s office anticipates receiving more materials soon. For Mr. Bragg, this case represents a pivotal moment in his career, and his request for a delay showcases his typically cautious approach. If his prosecutors had not shared certain records with Mr. Trump’s lawyers, the judge could have dismissed the case altogether.