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Trump hush money prosecutor tells judge he is OK with one-month delay of trial start

2 months ago 45

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks during a news conference at his office in New York City on Feb. 22, 2024.

Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on Thursday told a judge that he does not oppose postponing the start of the criminal hush money trial of former President Donald Trump by up to 30 days.

Bragg said that delay would give Trump's attorneys time to review tens of thousands of documents turned over Wednesday by federal prosecutors related to their criminal prosecution of Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen.

The DA told Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan that his prosecution team is prepared to start Trump's trial on March 25 as currently scheduled.

But, Bragg wrote in a court filing, "We do not oppose an adjournment in an abundance of caution and to ensure that defendant has sufficient time to review the new materials."

Trump is charged with falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment that Cohen paid to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual tryst with the then-presidential nominee.

Cohen, who is set to testify against Trump at the trial, pleaded guilty in 2018 in Manhattan federal court to federal campaign finance violations related to hush money paid to Daniels and to another woman who said she had an affair with Trump.

Bragg in his filing said that the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan on Wednesday turned over 31,000 pages of records related to Cohen's criminal case to his office and Trump's lawyers.

Another production of documents from federal prosecutors is due next week, Bragg said.

The DA said that the late arrival of those materials "is a result solely of defendant's delay despite the People's diligence."

Trump's lawyers dispute that characterization.

Last week, defense attorneys Susan Necheles and Todd Blanche asked Merchan to either dismiss Bragg's indictment entirely or delay the trial for 90 days while also blocking Cohen and Daniels from testifying.

Trump's lawyers argued that Merchan should do so because federal prosecutors in early March gave them an incomplete tranche of 73,000 pages of records related to Cohen.

The DA's prosecutors "should have obtained and produced these materials long ago, and instead they chose to seek unsuccessfully to obstruct our access to them," Trump's lawyers wrote.

In turn, the DA in his new filing says that last year he asked federal prosecutors for the full grand jury record related to Cohen's conviction. Those materials were sent to Trump by last June, the DA said.

Trump "raised no concerns" about whether those efforts were sufficient until last week, Bragg said.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement that Bragg agreed to a delay "after conceding serious discovery violations."

"President Trump and his counsel have been consistent and steadfast that this case has no basis in law or fact, and should be dismissed," Cheung said.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in the case, which is one of four criminal prosecutions he faces while also preparing to run against President Joe Biden in November's presidential election.

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