Trump ‘hush money’ trial set for April 15, bond amount slashed

Trump says 'not fair' to schedule trial during election campaign
Source: Video Screenshot

Donald Trump will in three weeks become the first former US president to face a criminal trial, a judge ruled Monday, hours after an appeals court threw the tycoon a lifeline in his effort to stave off an unrelated, half billion dollar civil fraud judgment.

New York Judge Juan Merchan rejected demands from Trump’s attorneys to delay his trial on charges of paying hush money to a porn star for at least 90 days, and ordered jury selection to begin on April 15.

The Republican presidential candidate denounced the upcoming trial and other cases brought against him as “election interference” by Democrat Joe Biden, his likely opponent in the November White House vote.

“I don’t know how you can have a trial that’s going on right in the middle of an election,” he said. “It’s not fair. If I were doing poorly this wouldn’t be happening.”

Separately, the 77-year-old Trump welcomed the decision by a New York appeals court in his civil fraud case to slash a potentially crippling $454 million bond payment to $175 million and give him 10 extra days to pay.

Trump had been facing a Monday deadline to pay the huge original bond pending an appeal against a New York state judge’s decision that he is liable for fraudulently conspiring to inflate his net worth.

Trump risked seeing New York authorities confiscate parts of his real estate empire if he failed to come up with the bond but the appeals court panel’s decision hands him a legal and financial lifeline.

“I greatly respect the decision of the appellate division and I will post $175 million in cash and bonds or security or whatever is necessary very quickly, within the 10 days,” he said.

The hush money trial had been scheduled to begin on Monday but was delayed because thousands of pages of potential evidence were belatedly produced by prosecutors.

– ‘I didn’t do anything wrong’ –

Trump faces charges of falsifying business records for the payments made on the eve of the 2016 presidential election to make sure porn star Stormy Daniels did not publicize a sexual encounter.

A visibly exasperated Judge Merchan pushed back against the bid by Trump’s attorneys to delay the start of the trial — a tactic they have used in his various other cases.

Asked by reporters if he would take the witness stand in the hush money case, Trump said he “would have no problem testifying.”

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.

Trump regularly rails against a judicial system he claims is “fixed” against him.

Trump also faces federal and state charges for allegedly trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election and has been indicted in Florida for refusing to return classified documents after leaving the White House.

Trump has said that New York Attorney General Letitia James — who is Black — is “racist,” and accused Judge Arthur Engeron in the civil fraud case of being “crooked.”

Trump got some positive financial news last week when it was announced that Truth Social would finally go public through a merger, a transaction that could net him billions of dollars.

He cannot tap into the funds for six months, but it potentially could help him secure the bond.

In the trial involving Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, Trump is accused of illegally using campaign funds to secure her silence about an alleged sexual encounter back in 2006.

If she’d spoken out, the fallout could have been ruinous for Trump’s presidential hopes, coming right on the heels of another scandal over the married businessman’s boasting, caught on tape, that as a celebrity he was freely able to “grab” women by their genitals.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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