Trump to attend "hush money" case pretrial hearing in New York

Former President Donald Trump is expected to attend a high-stakes court hearing Monday in Manhattan, just under three weeks before the scheduled start of his criminal trial — a proceeding that would be a first in U.S. history.

Trial was originally scheduled to begin Monday in the case, which centers around what Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has said were falsified business records tied to reimbursements for a “hush money” payment to an adult film star. The plan was derailed in early March when new material relevant to the case was turned over to the two sides by the Justice Department. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

His defense has asked for either a lengthier trial delay — up to three months — or an outright dismissal, accusing Bragg’s office of purposely conducting an inadequate effort to get the documents. Prosecutors said they requested the documents last year, and the Justice Department initially declined, only to reverse course in response to a defense subpoena.

The Justice Department has declined to comment on the matter.

The more than 100,000 pages of documents that were turned over in early March relate to, among other things, bank records and related emails concerning a Justice Department investigation into Michael Cohen, Trump’s former “fixer” and lawyer, according to court filings. Cohen entered a guilty plea to tax evasion in 2018 in the federal case, and is now the key witness against Trump in the New York case.

At Monday’s hearing, Merchan said the lawyers will be asked to discuss “significant questions of fact” related to prosecutors’ efforts to obtain relevant documents, in order to provide them to Trump’s attorneys — a process known as pretrial discovery.

In that order, Merchan set the April 15 trial date, but added, “The court will set the new trial date, if necessary, when it rules on Defendant’s motion following the hearing.”

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