Trump’s NY Criminal Case Trial Date Set for April  

Former President Donald Trump leaves Manhattan criminal court, Feb. 15. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump will stand trial starting April 15 on charges related to falsifying business records in an attempt to suppress harmful information, a New York judge ruled Monday in tersely swatting aside defense claims of prosecutorial misconduct.

Assuming the date holds, the decision from Judge Juan M. Merchan ensures that the prosecution will be the first of four criminal cases against Trump to reach trial, with the presumptive Republican nominee facing a jury in the city where he built a business empire decades ago and gained celebrity status.

The trial, initially set for Monday, had been in limbo after a last-minute document dump caused a postponement of the original date. In setting jury selection for April 15, Merchan bristled at what he suggested were baseless defense claims of “prosecutorial misconduct,” unpersuaded by Trump team suggestions that prosecutors had until recently concealed tens of thousands of pages of records from a federal probe covering the same issues.

Prosecutors said only a handful of those newly released records were relevant to the case, while defense lawyers contended that thousands of pages are potentially important and require a painstaking review. Merchan, who earlier this month postponed the trial until at least mid-April, told defense lawyers that they should have acted much sooner if they believed they didn’t have all the records they felt they were entitled to.

Trump “will not suffer any prejudice” from the recent provision of material and the prosecutors who turned it over were not at fault, Merchan said.

Outside the courtroom, Trump reiterated his contention that the trials are “election interference” in the midst of his presidential campaign.

“This is a case that could have been brought three and a half years ago. And now they’re fighting over days because they want to try and do it during the election. This is election interference. That’s all it is. Election interference and it’s a disgrace,” the former president said.

The hearing took place on a consequential day for Trump’s legal affairs, with a New York appeals court granting him a dose of good news by agreeing to hold off collection of his $454 million civil fraud judgment — if he puts up $175 million within 10 days.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges. The prosecutor overseeing the case, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, is a Democrat.

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