Trump expected to appear at pretrial hearing in Manhattan

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A New York judge is expected to say Thursday whether the Manhattan district attorney’s case against Donald Trump will soon proceed to trial, a first for any former president in U.S. history.

Trump is expected to attend the hearing Thursday morning in the case, which involves the circumstances surrounding a “hush money” payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016. A grand jury voted to indict Trump on March 30, 2023, charging him with 34 felony counts of falsification of business records.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty. He has repeatedly accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of pursuing the case for political gain.

At a hearing last May, Judge Juan Merchan set a preliminary trial date of March 25, and there have been no other public proceedings in the case since.

During Thursday’s hearing, Merchan is set to rule on pretrial motions, including one from Trump seeking to dismiss the case. That motion argued that the “political,” “zombie” case stemmed from “a five-year meandering, halting, and roving investigation.” 

Former President Donald Trump appears in court with members of his legal team for an arraignment on charges stemming from his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury following a probe into hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels in New York City, April 4, 2023.
Former President Donald Trump appears in court with members of his legal team for an arraignment on charges stemming from his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury following a probe into hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels in New York City, April 4, 2023.

ANDREW KELLY / REUTERS


Trump is accused of participating in a scheme to falsify records to hide a series of payments to his former “fixer” and lawyer Michael Cohen. The payments, prosecutors allege, were reimbursements for a hush money payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. She has alleged she had an affair with Trump, and agreed to keep quiet in exchange for $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election.

Trump’s lawyers have denied the payments to Cohen were part of a cover-up, saying Trump was reimbursing the former lawyer for legal expenses.

The former president’s legal troubles have only grown in the months since the last hearing in the case, and his calendar has filled up with court dates. He’s been charged in three other criminal proceedings: federal cases in Washington, D.C., and Florida, and a state case in Georgia. 

Trump is choosing to attend the hearing in New York instead of one also scheduled for Thursday in Georgia, where a judge will hear evidence related to allegations that District Attorney Fani Willis and that case’s special prosecutor Nathan Wade improperly used public funds while pursuing a romantic relationship. Both have confirmed the relationship but denied any financial conflict. The Georgia case involves accusations that Trump and others conspired in an attempt to thwart 2020 election results in the state.

The federal case in Washington, which revolves around Trump’s attempts to overturn President Biden’s 2020 presidential election win, was originally scheduled for March 4, but that date is now on hold as Trump appeals a rejected presidential immunity claim to the Supreme Court.

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