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Trump clutches 'immunity' blanket again, seeks delay of NY hush-money trial by claiming 'official acts' as president

Trump clutches 'immunity' blanket again, seeks delay of NY hush-money trial by claiming 'official acts' as president
  • Trump wants his NY hush-money trial delayed until SCOTUS determines if he has blanket immunity.

  • The Constitution shields presidents from state prosecution for "official acts," his lawyers say.

  • They claim that things he said about a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels were part of his job.

In a remarkable, eleventh-hour request, lawyers for Donald Trump on Monday asked a judge to delay his New York hush-money trial on presidential-blanket-immunity grounds.

In papers filed in Manhattan, Trump's attorneys asked New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan to delay the March 25 trial start date until the US Supreme Court decides on the former president's federal-election-interference case.

Oral arguments in that case, where his lawyers will claim Trump has blanket immunity from prosecution for "official acts" made while president, are set for April 25.

"The scope of 'official acts' for purposes of applying presidential immunity is a developing area of the law that the Supreme Court is expected to address, at least to a certain extent, in Trump v. United States," the papers argue, referring to the Washington, DC, case.

Trump has been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business documents in the Manhattan felony case.

Monday's 26-page defense filing argues that certain statements he made about the Daniels payment are "official-act evidence" and jurors should not see them.

Those statements include what Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has called Trump's "pressure campaign" to keep Michael Cohen, his personal attorney at the time, from cooperating with prosecutors probing the payment.

A tweet Donald Trump hopes to exclude from his hush money trial on grounds of "presidential immunity."
A tweet Donald Trump hopes to exclude from his hush money trial on grounds of "presidential immunity."Business Insider
A tweet Donald Trump hopes to exclude from his hush money trial on grounds of "presidential immunity."
Three tweets Donald Trump hopes to exclude from his hush-money trial on grounds of "presidential immunity."Business Insider

The defense similarly claims Trump was in his role as president on April 5, 2018, when he denied knowing about the hush-money payment while speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One.

"Then why did Michael Cohen make those if there was no truth to her allegations?" a reporter asked.

"Well, you'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney," Trump said.

When asked if he knew where Michael Cohen got the money to make that payment, Trump responded, "No, I don't know."

Trump was acting "in his official capacity as the nation's chief executive," when he made the statements, his lawyers argued in their filing to Merchan, which was signed by Trump attorneys Susan Necheles and Todd Blanche.

"Therefore, President Trump respectfully submits that an adjournment of the trial is appropriate to await further guidance from the Supreme Court, which should facilitate the appropriate application of the presidential immunity doctrine in this case to the evidence the People intend to offer at trial," the filing says.

Once SCOTUS issues a decision, "the Court should hold a hearing outside the presence of the jury to identify and preclude documentary and testimonial official-acts evidence based on presidential immunity," his lawyers wrote.

Trump is accused of falsifying 34 checks, invoices, and ledger entries to disguise the hush-money payment as legal expenses.

Manhattan prosecutors allege the October 28, 2016, payment to Daniels was an illegal campaign expenditure, made on the brink of the election to keep the adult-film actor from speaking publicly about her claim she had an affair with Trump.

Manhattan prosecutors have not yet responded to the filing.

This story has been updated to add additional details.

Read the original article on Business Insider