New York appeals judge denies Trump’s second trial delay bid in two days

NEW YORK — An appeals judge on Tuesday rejected Donald Trump’s second request in two days to delay next week’s start of his hush money criminal trial, this time based on his claim that a limited gag order is impeding his right to publicly defend himself.

Appellate judge Cynthia Kern, who heard the emergency bid by Trump’s lawyers, ordered the final filings in the matter to be submitted by Monday morning around the time that jurors will be filing into New York Supreme Court for the start of jury selection. A full panel of appeals judges is expected to then consider whether to pause the trial.

Steven Wu, an attorney from the district attorney’s office, argued in court Tuesday that there was no basis to delay the trial, especially for legitimate reasons related to the gag order, which was imposed recently by New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.

“This is a pattern of misconduct that causes predictable, terrifying consequences that the order here is intended to correct,” Wu said, noting that charged comments by Trump have generated threats and harassment from his followers toward court personnel.

Trump attorney Emil Bove told Kern that Trump should have the right to talk about two key witnesses in the case — his former lawyer Michael Cohen and adult film actress Stormy Daniels — because they make public claims about the merits of the matter on social media and in public appearances.

Bove said there is no safety concern because the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is “not alleging that any of President Trump’s statements rise to the level of incitement.”

He also said Merchan’s gag order handicaps Trump’s “ability to speak in public and engage with the ongoing verbal assaults” from Cohen and Daniels.

On Monday, Trump filed a civil claim in appellate court that named Merchan as a defendant for his recent issuance of a gag order ahead of the trial.

A New York appeals court judge on Monday rejected Trump’s attempt to delay the hush money trial scheduled to begin April 15 while he pursued an appeal to determine whether a change of venue is necessary outside Manhattan, a largely liberal part of the state.

Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection to a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels made shortly before the 2016 election. Prosecutors have said the payment was made to keep her quiet about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump years earlier.

Trump’s reimbursements to his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who made the payment to Daniels, were illegally documented as legal fees despite being carried out to support Trump’s campaign, according to prosecutors. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to campaign finance violations in 2018. That plea was related to the Daniels payment which was allegedly done at Trump’s direction. Trump was never charged by federal prosecutors and Cohen went to prison for crimes including campaign finance law violations in his Daniels silencing effort.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office has said that Trump deliberately covered up his reimbursements to Cohen to avoid reporting the Daniels payment in required campaign finance disclosures.

Trump, who is expected to be the Republican presidential nominee in this year’s election, has repeatedly made negative comments about Merchan’s adult daughter, who is professionally connected to Democratic campaigns. Merchan imposed a limited gag order on March 26 prohibiting Trump from publicly discussing various players in the case including court staff, witnesses and some prosecutors or their families.

While the initial order didn’t prohibit comments about Bragg, Merchan or their families, it was later expanded to include protections for relatives of the district attorney and the justice.

Merchan wrote in that order that Trump had a “pattern of attacking family members of presiding jurists and attorneys assigned to his cases serves no legitimate purpose.”

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