NY district attorney supports 30-day delay in Trump hush money trial

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a court filing Thursday that his office doesn’t oppose Donald Trump’s request to delay his hush money trial — just days before the former president was scheduled to face his first criminal trial while simultaneously running to return to the White House House.

The surprise move came after federal prosecutors began turning over tens of thousands of documents this month relating to their investigation and their prosecution in 2018 of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who is expected to be a key witness in the trial.

Bragg’s filing said that “although the People are prepared to proceed to trial on March 25, we do not oppose an adjournment in an abundance of caution and to ensure that the defendant has sufficient time to review the new materials.”

He added that his office doesn’t oppose delaying the start of the trial for 30 days. The judge first scheduled the March 25 trial date in May.

If the start date is ultimately pushed back, it will be yet another win for Trump, whose strategy across the four criminal charges he faces has been to seek delays.

In a post on his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump accused the DA’s office of having “illegally withheld thousands of pages of documents.”

“[W]ow, people have never seen anything like this one,” he wrote.

Trump had requested a 90-day delay in the trial after the US attorney’s office in Manhattan provided 73,000 pages of discovery since March 4. Bragg said his office’s initial review of those documents “were largely irrelevant to the subject matter of this case” except for 172 pages of witness statements.

He said the US attorney’s office produced about 31,000 pages of “additional records” to both prosecutors and Trump’s attorneys Wednesday and “indicated that an additional production would follow by next week.” A judge approved Trump’s request in mid-January to subpoena additional materials from federal prosecutors.

“The timing of the USAO’s productions is a result solely of the defendant’s delay despite the People’s diligence,” Bragg said, noting his office had received a “subset” of materials from the US attorney’s office in June, and efficiently turned what they had over to Trump’s lawyers.

“Despite having access to those materials since June, defendant raised no concerns to the People about the sufficiency of our efforts to obtain materials from the USAO before last week; instead, defendant waited until January 18, 2024, to subpoena additional material,” Bragg’s filing said.

Trump’s attorney blames Bragg for the delay.

“The People should have obtained and produced these materials long ago, and instead they chose to seek unsuccessfully to obstruct our access to them,” they told the judge in a March 8 filing that was made public Thursday.

They’ve asked the judge to sanction the DA’s office for not having gotten the material earlier, accusing prosecutors of “improper and unethical actions” and of having “engaged in widespread misconduct as part of a desperate effort to improve their position at the potential trial on the false and unsupported charges in the Indictment.”

They also characterized the newly turned-over evidence as being far more relevant than the DA claimed, saying the documents included “exculpatory evidence” for their client and information that could be used to impeach Cohen’s credibility.

The evidence relates to Cohen’s 2018 guilty plea to numerous criminal charges, including making secret payments to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump, lying to Congress about his boss’ business dealings with Russia and failing to report millions of dollars in income.

The secret payments to women are at the heart of the DA’s case, which alleges Trump falsified business records related to Cohen’s $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign. In court filings relating to Cohen’s plea, federal prosecutors alleged Cohen paid the women off “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump, who was named at the time only as “Individual-1.”

Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Trump, framed Bragg’s filing as “conceding serious discovery of violations.”

“We will continue to fight to end this Hoax,” Cheung said in his statement.

In mid-February, Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the case, scheduled the trial to begin March 25. He said he expected it would last about six weeks.

Merchan, who did not seem interested in defense requests for a delay during a scheduling hearing this year, will need to rule on both sides’ requests to push back the trial date. He could rule for a delay of less than 30 days or more.

Trump’s attorney said in a court filing last week that part of their defense will be that Trump “lacked the requisite intent to commit the conduct charged in the indictment.” Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to the hush money payments to Daniels. He has pleaded not guilty.