Trump Wants To Delay Hush Money Trial Until SCOTUS Rules On Immunity

By Victor Winston, updated on March 12, 2024

Donald Trump is grappling with the legal system and attempting to navigate the complexities of his immunity claims.

AP News reported that the former U.S. President seeks to delay his New York trial over hush money payments until the Supreme Court rules on his claim of presidential immunity in a separate case.

In a bold legal move, Mr. Trump's attorneys have asked Manhattan Judge Juan Manuel Merchan to indefinitely postpone the New York criminal trial, set to begin on March 25. This request is tied to a Supreme Court hearing slated for April 25, which will delve into Mr. Trump's assertion of presidential immunity in a Washington, D.C., criminal case related to election interference.

A First of Many Legal Battles for Trump

This particular hush-money case, the first of four criminal trials Mr. Trump faces, stems from allegations that he falsified internal records. These records were allegedly manipulated to hide payments made to Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, intended to silence negative stories during the 2016 campaign.

One notable payment included $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, aiming to suppress her claims of a past affair with Mr. Trump.

Currently, Mr. Trump has entered a plea of not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. He firmly denies having a sexual encounter with Daniels.

However, a federal judge has already taken a stance against Trump's claims that the hush money indictments were connected to his official duties, labeling the issue as "purely a personal item of the President."

Presidential Immunity: A Legal Conundrum

The unique question of a former president’s immunity from prosecution for actions taken while in office remains untested in the courts. Mr. Trump first raised the presidential immunity issue in his D.C. criminal case regarding his alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Prosecutors in Washington, D.C., have argued vehemently against the notion that such immunity exists and contend that the actions Mr. Trump is accused of do not qualify as official acts of a president.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, in particular, emphasized that:

Hush money paid to an adult film star is not related to a President’s official acts. It reflects in no way the color of the President’s official duties. Moreover, the matter was purely a personal item of the President — a cover-up of an embarrassing event.

The Legal Timeline Unfolds Amidst Constitutional Questions

The timeline of these legal battles is tightly packed, with jury selection for Mr. Trump's New York hush money case due to start on March 25. However, his legal team's efforts to move the case to federal court, where presidential immunity might have more sway, were denied. This denial underscores Mr. Trump's challenges as he navigates through his post-presidential life under the shadow of multiple legal controversies.

Prosecutors in the D.C. case have stated, regarding presidential immunity and its implications on official acts, “no such immunity exists and that, in any event, none of the actions Mr. Trump is alleged to have taken in the indictment charging him with plotting to overturn the 2020 presidential election after he lost to Democrat Joe Biden count as official acts.”

Conclusion

This developing story touches upon a pivotal question in constitutional law: the extent of a former president's immunity from prosecution. Donald Trump, his attempts to delay his March 25 hush money trial, and the Supreme Court's upcoming review of his presidential immunity claim to a separate criminal case in Washington, D.C., spotlight the intricacies of the legal system and its interaction with the highest offices in the United States. In the meantime, the nation watches as a former president contends with the legal ramifications of his actions both during and post-presidency.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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