Trump request to delay hush-money trial denied for third time

Former President Donald Trump’s request to delay his hush money criminal trial was denied Wednesday, marking the third time this week his lawyers’ attempts to delay the trial have failed. 

Trump’s arguments for the delay hinged on three reasons: that Judge Juan M. Merchan should be recused; the requirements to file pre-motion letters were too restrictive; and the defense should be permitted to argue presidential immunity as a defense.  

Lawyers from the district attorney’s office and the court administration argued against a delay, calling Trump’s arguments meritless. The court’s attorney said Merchan does not stand to benefit from the outcome of the trial. 

The former president’s lawyers filed paperwork on Wednesday asking the state’s mid-level appeals court to intervene and to issue an order preventing jury selection from starting as scheduled. Paperwork related to Trump’s latest appeal was sealed and no documents were publicly available.

A docket listing shows that Wednesday’s action was framed as a fresh attempt to sue Merchan under a state law known as Article 78 that allows judges to be sued over some judicial decisions.

An appeals court judge was expected to hear arguments at an emergency hearing Wednesday afternoon.

One appeals court judge on Monday rejected Trump’s bid to delay the trial while he seeks to move it out of Manhattan. A different judge on Tuesday denied a request, framed as part of a lawsuit against Merchan, that the trial be delayed while Trump fights a gag order imposed on him in recent weeks.

Trump has separately demanded that Merchan step aside from the case, accusing him of bias and a conflict of interest, citing his daughter’s work as the head of a firm whose clients have included President Biden, Vice President Harris and other Democrats.

Merchan rejected a similar request in August and has not ruled on Trump’s pending request. The judge has also yet to rule on another defense delay request, which claims that Trump won’t get a fair trial because of ‘prejudicial media coverage.’

Last week, Merchan rejected the presumptive Republican nominee’s request to delay the trial until the Supreme Court rules on presidential immunity claims he raised in his Washington, D.C., election interference case. The Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments in that matter on April 25.

Trump’s hush-money trial, which is scheduled to start on Monday, 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 is accused of falsifying his company’s records to hide the nature of payments to his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who helped Trump bury negative stories during his 2016 campaign. 

Cohen’s activities included paying porn actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 to suppress her claims of an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump years earlier.

Fox News’ Maria Paronich and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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