Donald Trump hush-money trial date set – and it's before the election

By John Mercury March 26, 2024

Donald Trump is set to stand trial in his hush-money case on 15 April – marking the first of four criminal cases against the former president to reach trial.

A New York judge ruled today that the former president will face charges next month related to payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, meant to cover up claims of marital infidelity.

Trump stands accused of criminally altering business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to Ms Daniels shortly before the 2016 election.

Trump’s lawyers say the payment was meant to spare himself and his family embarrassment, not to help him win the election.

Judge Juan Merchan also rejected claims of prosecutorial misconduct made by the defence during the hearing.

If the date holds, it marks the first of four criminal cases against Trump to reach trial as he mounts his campaign for US president as the presumptive Republican nominee.

Outside the courtroom, Trump complained about the ruling, characterising the case as an act of “election interference”.

He accused Biden of waging a legal witch hunt against him and accused the judge of corruption without providing evidence of either.

The former president also claimed the case could bolster his campaign, saying: “It can make me more popular because the people know it’s a scam.”

Trump has claimed he should not have to stand trial during the campaign, and his lawyers have filed a blizzard of motions to delay or derail the cases.

As it stands now, only the New York case is guaranteed to go to trial before November.

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Trump lashes out at news conference

Trump faces two other criminal trials accusing him of trying to subvert his 2020 election loss to Biden, and another that accuses him of mishandling classified information after he left the White House in 2021. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

The election subversion case in Georgia was delayed for months due to questions about whether the prosecutor’s romantic relationship with another lawyer posed a conflict of interest.

It comes as a separate New York court agreed to hold off collection of his $454m (£359.3m) civil fraud judgement on Monday – if he puts up $175m (£138.5m) within 10 days.

If Trump does so, it will stop the clock on collection and prevent the state from seizing his assets while he appeals the judgement.

In a significant victory for Trump, the appeals court also halted other aspects of a judge’s ruling that had barred the former president and his sons – the family company’s executive vice presidents – from serving in corporate leadership for several years.

Read more on Sky News:
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In a post on his Truth Social platform, Trump said he will abide by the decision and post either a bond, equivalent securities, or cash.

Trump originally faced a deadline of Monday to pay the full sum out of his own pocket or post a bond while he appealed against Justice Arthur Engoron’s February judgement

Despite the reduced fine, it is not the only case draining Mr Trump’s finances.

This month, he posted a $91.6m (£72.5m) bond to cover an $83.3m (£65.9m) defamation verdict for writer E Jean Carroll while he appealed.

She sued Trump after he called her a liar for accusing him of raping her decades ago. He has denied wrongdoing.

No other former US president has ever faced criminal charges.

But Republican voters rallied behind Trump when the hush money charges were filed a year ago, and opinion polls show him essentially tied with Biden at this point.

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