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Donald Trump’s New York Trial Delayed Until April—or Beyond

Chris Unger/Getty
Chris Unger/Getty

A chaotic and last-minute document dump of over 119,000 pages of potential evidence has forced an unexpected delay in Donald Trump’s much-anticipated hush money trial in Manhattan, with a state judge on Friday pushing back the trial to April—or even later.

In his Friday afternoon order, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan made clear the historic criminal trial is now on pause as he figures out whether the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office screwed up—or if Trump’s team is just playing delay games.

Merchan wrote that “there are significant questions of fact which this court must resolve before” he makes a decision.

What was supposed to be the first day of trial, March 25, will now be replaced by a contentious court hearing in which attorneys on both sides will fling accusations against one another.

Trump’s legal team, led by Todd Blanche, claims that prosecutors violated the law by holding back evidence that could undercut the DA’s indictment, which criminally charged Trump with faking business records to cover up the $130,000 hush money payment he made to the porn star Stormy Daniels to avoid a campaign-killing scandal days before the 2016 election.

Meanwhile, DA Alvin Bragg Jr.’s team asserts that Trump’s team ran out the clock before making eleventh-hour requests from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office for documents, essentially forcing a massive document dump on the eve of trial.

On Thursday, the DA’s office agreed to postpone the start of the trial by 30 days to ensure the disagreement gets ironed out—and potentially stave off any legal appeals that would jeopardize the trial by holding it prematurely.

In his order, Merchan noted that he was only holding back the trial “on consent” of the DA’s office. But he left wide open when the trial would actually commence, pointing out that Trump’s lawyers wouldn’t want to start it in mid-April anyway, given that the Jewish holiday of Passover would interrupt the very first few days of the proceeding.

At this moment, it’s possible the first ever criminal trial of an American president might not start until May. But the judge is even considering the possibility that it might get canceled altogether, a shocking proposition that would deal a severe blow to the years-long effort to hold him accountable for the scandal. Merchan held back from making any promises, saying that he’ll make his ruling after the decisive hearing later this month.

“The court will set the new trial date, if necessary, when it rules on defendant’s motion following the hearing,” he wrote.

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