Judge expected to set trial start date in Trump’s hush money case

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Judge Juan Merchan is expected at Monday’s hearing to set a trial start date in the New York hush money case against former President Donald Trump.

Monday’s hearing, scheduled for 10 a.m. ET, comes after the trial was postponed until at least mid-April. The trial was originally slated to begin on Monday, but Merchan delayed the start date by 30 days after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who brought the hush money case against Trump, said he did not oppose Trump’s request for a delay.

But Bragg’s office last week urged Merchan not to delay the trial further, arguing that fewer than 300 out of 170,000 documents turned over by federal prosecutors are relevant to Trump’s criminal defense.

Trump’s lawyers blamed Bragg’s office for not obtaining the documents sooner and requested Merchan dismiss the charges. The DA’s office pushed back, calling the focus on the document release a “red herring.”

Merchan scheduled the hearing Monday to discuss document production in the case after Trump’s lawyers filed a motion on the matter. Merchan at the time said he would set a new trial date “if necessary” upon ruling on the motion by Trump’s lawyers.

Trump is expected to be in court on Monday.

The DA’s case alleges that Trump falsified business records in connection to $130,000 in hush money payments that his former lawyer Michael Cohen paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels on his behalf ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Daniels claimed she had an affair with Trump in 2006, after he had already married his wife, Melania Trump.

Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and denied that he slept with Daniels. He did, however, say he repaid Cohen.

Merchan last week rejected Trump’s request to prevent Cohen and Daniels from testifying in the hush money case. Trump’s lawyers had argued in a court filing last month that Cohen and Daniels should be barred from testifying because they are “liars.”

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to multiple criminal charges, including issuing secret payments to women who claimed they’d had affairs with Trump, making false claims to Congress about the then-president’s business dealings with Russia, and failing to report millions of dollars in income.

The hush money case is among the four indictments Trump faces as he pursues another presidential bid. The hearing coincides with a Monday deadline for Trump to pay a more than $450 million bond to cover a judgment from New York Judge Arthur Engoron in Trump’s state civil fraud trial. Trump has appealed the ruling and threatened to challenge it “all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.”

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