Politics

Judge Delivers Ruling on Trump’s Bid For A Mistrial in Hush Money Case

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


Former President Donald Trump’s legal team made two requests during his hush money criminal trial, both of which were denied by Judge Juan Merchan.

The first request was for a mistrial, which had already been denied two days earlier. The second request was to narrow the gag order, allowing Trump to speak publicly about adult film actress and star witness Stormy Daniels following her testimony. However, the judge declined to grant this request as well.

During the trial, Daniels defended herself against accusations of story discrepancies made by Trump’s attorneys, as her allegations about an alleged sexual encounter with the former president are central to the case.

“Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche requested a mistrial, arguing some of her testimony, including details about an alleged sexual encounter, are unrelated to charges in the case and that her testimony was detrimental.
Merchan rejected the defense’s claim that Daniels’ testimony differed from her previous accounts,” Axios reported. “The judge brought up specific issues with the defense’s arguments, including that instead of denying the falsification of business records, they’re denying the alleged sexual encounter Daniels spoke about.”

“That in my mind allows the people to do what they can to rehabilitate her and to corroborate her story. Your motion for a mistrial is denied,” Judge Merchan said.

On Thursday, Trump’s lawyers requested the court narrow the gag order so he could speak publicly about the case now that Daniels has testified.

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“He needs an opportunity to respond to the American people,” Blanche said. “She is no longer a witness.”
The judge denied the motion, saying, “The reason why the gag order is in place to begin with is precisely because of the nature of these attacks — the vitriol.”

“This judge, what he did, and what his ruling was, is a disgrace,” Trump said outside the court on Thursday evening.

In April of last year, Bragg filed 34 first-degree charges against Trump for falsifying business records. The charges also relate to purported hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Bragg alleged that Trump “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.”

“During the election, Trump and others employed a ‘catch and kill’ scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects,” Bragg alleged in the indictment last year. “TRUMP then went to great lengths to hide this conduct, causing dozens of false entries in business records to conceal criminal activity, including attempts to violate state and federal election laws.”

Fox News reported:

According to New York state law, a charge of falsifying business records in the first degree alleges that the defendant committed a crime of falsifying business records with the intent to defraud. The intent to defraud would be an intent to commit another crime.

In 2019, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York investigated the matter and opted not to charge Trump related to the alleged payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

The Federal Election Commission also tossed its investigation into the matter in 2021.

According to Bragg, Trump “orchestrated a ‘catch and kill’ scheme through a series of payments that he then concealed through months of false business entries” between August 2015 and December 2017.

Bragg also claimed that a former doorman at Trump Tower received $30,000 from American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, for a story he claimed to have about a child Trump had not married into.

Additionally, the DA claimed that American Media Inc. gave a woman who claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Trump $150,000. Bragg was reportedly talking about McDougal.

Bragg is also claiming that Trump “explicitly directed a lawyer,” presumably a reference to former personal attorney Michael Cohen, to “reimburse” American Media Inc. with cash. He claimed that Cohen wired $130,000 to an attorney for an adult film actress “12 days before the presidential general election,” ostensibly referring to Daniels.

For breaking campaign finance laws connected to the payments, among other federal charges, Cohen entered a guilty plea in 2019 and received a three-year prison sentence.

Cohen admitted to organizing the payments, but he insists that Trump gave the orders.

Bragg alleged that after the election, Trump reimbursed Cohen through a series of monthly checks “first from the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust – created in New York to hold the Trump Organization’s assets during TRUMP’s presidency – and later from TRUMP’s bank account. In total, 11 checks were issued for a phony purpose.”

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