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Trump's lawyers try for a third day to get NY appeals court to delay hush-money trial

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LA Post: Trump's lawyers try for a third day to get NY appeals court to delay hush-money trial
April 10, 2024
MICHAEL R. SISAK and JAKE OFFENHARTZ - AP

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s lawyers tried for a third straight day Wednesday to get a New York appeals court to delay his hush money criminal trial, which is slated to begin next Monday.

Trump's legal team has asked the appeals court to halt the case indefinitely while it fights to have the trial judge removed, according to a person familiar with the matter. They are challenging several of Judge Juan M. Merchan's recent rulings, including his refusal to postpone the trial until the Supreme Court rules on an immunity claim he raised in another of his criminal cases, the person said.

The former president’s lawyers filed paperwork 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.

The person who confirmed the subject of the court filing was not authorized to speak about it publicly and did so on condition of anonymity.

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 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 Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala 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 Wednesday, 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 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.

Trump pleaded not guilty last year to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. He has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels. His lawyers argue the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal expenses.

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