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Prosecutors say Donald Trump’s hush money trial should start April 15 without further delay

Republican presidential candidate and former president Donald Trump.Mike Stewart/Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — New York prosecutors on Thursday urged a judge to start Donald Trump’s hush money criminal trial on April 15, saying the defense’s calls for further delays or dismissal of the case because of a last-minute evidence dump were a “red herring.”

The vast majority of evidence that the Republican former president’s lawyers received in recent weeks — more than 100,000 pages from a previous federal investigation into the matter — was “entirely immaterial, duplicative or substantially duplicative” of evidence they'd already been given, prosecutors said.

In one batch of 31,000 documents turned over to Trump’s lawyers last week, fewer than 270 were relevant to Trump’s case and had not previously been disclosed to his lawyers, prosecutors said. Federal prosecutors finished giving evidence to Trump’s lawyers last week.


Judge Juan M. Merchan last week postponed the trial's start until mid-April after Trump's lawyers complained that the late arrival of evidence from the federal investigation was hindering their preparations.

Trump's criminal trial, the first of a former U.S. president, had been scheduled to begin on Monday. The hush money case is among four criminal indictments against Trump, the Republican Party's presumptive 2024 presidential nominee.

Instead, on Monday, Merchan will hold a hearing to assess "who, if anyone, is at fault" for the late evidence, whether it hurt either side and whether any sanctions are warranted. Trump, who has pleaded not guilty in the case, is expected to attend the hearing.

The evidence includes records about Trump’s former lawyer-turned-key prosecution witness Michael Cohen, who went to prison as a result of the federal probe.

Trump’s lawyers have said some of that evidence appears to be “exculpatory and favorable to the defense.” Prosecutors argue it mostly pertains to Cohen's unrelated federal convictions, though that material could come in handy to Trump’s lawyers in seeking to undermine Cohen's credibility.


Trump’s lawyers want a 90-day delay, but they’ve also asked Merchan to dismiss the case entirely, alleging the late disclosures amount to prosecutorial misconduct and violate rules governing the sharing of evidence. That sharing process, called discovery, is routine in criminal cases and is intended to help ensure a fair trial.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office did not oppose Merchan's 30-day delay but said it would fight the defense's attempts to put the trial off any longer.

Prosecutors said in a court filing Thursday that the Trump legal team's allegations were “wholly unfounded, and the circumstances here do not come close to warranting the extreme sanctions” that are being sought. They said there was no discovery violation because evidence-sharing rules apply only to material in their possession — not evidence kept by outside parties like the U.S. attorney’s office.

Prosecutors contend Trump’s lawyers caused the problem by waiting until Jan. 18 to subpoena the U.S. attorney’s office for the full case file — a mere nine weeks before the scheduled start of jury selection.

The defense has also sought to delay the trial until after the Supreme Court rules on Trump's presidential immunity claims, which his lawyers say could apply to some of the allegations and evidence in the hush money case. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments April 25.

The hush money case centers on allegations that Trump falsified his company’s records to hide the true nature of payments to Cohen, who paid porn actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 during the 2016 presidential campaign to suppress her claims of an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump years earlier.


Trump pleaded not guilty last year to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels. His lawyers argue the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal expenses and not part of any cover-up.

After a decade of working for Trump, Cohen broke with him in 2018 and soon pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations related to the hush money payments, making false statements on a bank loan application, evading taxes related to his investments in the taxi industry and lying to Congress.

Cohen went to prison for about a year before being released to home confinement because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He became an outspoken Trump foe and is poised to be a key prosecution witness against Trump. Trump and his lawyers, meanwhile, contend Cohen is untrustworthy.

In their case against Cohen, federal prosecutors said the hush money payments were made to benefit Trump and occurred with his knowledge — but they stopped short of accusing Trump of directly committing a crime.

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which provides legal advice and guidance to federal agencies, has maintained that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Federal prosecutors didn’t revive their investigation once Trump left the White House after losing the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden.