Judge declines to delay Trump’s hush money criminal trial over complaints of pretrial publicity

Former President Trump stands behind metal barriers in a courthouse with guards standing nearby.
Former President Trump, shown in February at a Manhattan criminal court, is scheduled to go to trial Monday in a hush money criminal case.
(Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

The judge in Donald Trump’s hush money criminal case on Friday turned down the former president’s request to postpone his trial because of publicity about the case.

It’s the latest in a string of delay denials that Trump has gotten from various courts this week as he fights to stave off the trial’s start Monday with jury selection.

Among other things, Trump’s lawyers had argued that the jury pool was deluged with what the defense saw as “exceptionally prejudicial” news coverage of the case. The defense maintained that was a reason to hold off the case indefinitely.


Judge Juan M. Merchan said that idea was “not tenable.”

Trump “appears to take the position that his situation and this case are unique and that the pre-trial publicity will never subside. However, this view does not align with reality,” the judge wrote.

Pointing to Trump’s two federal defamation trials and a state civil business fraud trial in Manhattan within the past year, Merchan wrote that the ex-president himself “was personally responsible for generating much, if not most, of the surrounding publicity with his public statements” outside those courtrooms and on social media.

“The situation Defendant finds himself in now is not new to him and at least in part, of his own doing,” the judge added. He said questioning of prospective jurors would address any concerns about their ability to be fair and impartial.

Trump faces the first of four criminal trials that will cut into his campaigning. He is accused of falsifying records to hide payments to a porn actor.

April 15, 2024

Messages seeking comment were left with Trump’s lawyers. The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment.

Trump, meanwhile, said Friday that he planned to testify at the trial, calling the case a “scam.”

“All I can do is tell the truth,” Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. “And the truth is, they have no case.”


Asked about jury selection, Trump said the process is “largely luck.”

“It depends who you get,” Trump said.

“It’s very unfair that I’m having a trial there,” he said, reiterating complaints he has made about the judge.

In a court filing last month, Trump attorney Todd Blanche had argued that “potential jurors in Manhattan have been exposed to huge amounts of biased and unfair media coverage relating to this case.”

“Many of the potential jurors already wrongfully believe that President Trump is guilty,” Blanche added, citing the defense’s review of media articles and other research it conducted.

Trump’s lawyers also blamed key prosecution witnesses Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels for driving negative coverage of Trump. They pointed to Cohen’s withering criticism of Trump on his podcasts and social media feeds and to publicity surrounding the release of a documentary about Daniels, which premiered last month on the NBC streaming service Peacock.

Prosecutors contended that publicity wasn’t likely to wane and that Trump’s own comments generated a lot of it. Prosecutors also noted that there are more than 1 million people in Manhattan, arguing that jury questioning could surely locate 12 who could be impartial.

Trump’s hush money case 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.


Trump is accused of doctoring his company’s records to hide the real reason for payments to his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who helped the candidate bury negative claims about him during his 2016 campaign. Cohen’s activities included paying porn actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 to suppress her story of an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump years earlier, which Trump denies.

Trump pleaded not guilty last year to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. His lawyers argue the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal expenses.

Trump’s lawyers had lobbed other, sometimes similar, arguments for delays at an appeals court this week. One of those appeals sought to put the trial on hold until the appellate court could give full consideration to the defense’s argument that it needs to be moved elsewhere, on the grounds that the jury pool has been polluted by news coverage of Trump’s other recent cases.

A New York appeals court judge has rejected the latest bid by former President Donald Trump to delay his hush money criminal trial.

April 9, 2024

Trump’s lawyers also maintain that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee faces “real potential prejudice” in heavily Democratic Manhattan.

All this week’s appeals were turned down by individual appellate judges, though the matters are headed to a panel of appeals judges for further consideration.

Along with their claims about pretrial publicity, Trump’s lawyers took issue with the recent prosecution of former Trump Organization finance chief Allen Weisselberg for lying under oath in the civil fraud case. They accused the Manhattan District Attorney’s office of deploying “unethical, strong-armed tactics against an innocent man in his late 70s.”


Weisselberg was sentenced Wednesday to five months in jail. When Weisselberg pleaded guilty last month to two counts of perjury, the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg made a legally binding promise not to prosecute him for any other crimes he might have committed in connection with his longtime employment by the Trump Organization. The plea agreement does not require Weisselberg to testify at Trump’s hush money trial.

Peltz and Sisak write for the Associated Press.