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Trump loses last-ditch bid to delay hush money trial

Trump loses last-ditch bid to delay hush money trial
Former US President Donald Trump speaks at an event in Houston, Texas on 2 November 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Adam Davis)

NEW YORK, April 8 (Reuters) - A New York state appellate judge on Monday denied Donald Trump's bid to delay his April 15 criminal trial on charges stemming from hush money paid to a porn star while the former U.S. president seeks to move the case out of Manhattan.

By Luc Cohen

Associate Justice Lizbeth Gonzalez issued her decision shortly after a half-hour hearing at the Appellate Division in Manhattan, a mid-level state appeals court.

Emil Bove, a lawyer for Trump, said during the hearing that his client was seeking to stay the case pending the application to move the trial on the charges brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

A lawyer from Bragg’s office, Steven Wu, countered that Trump waited too long to object to being tried in Manhattan, where he once lived. The charges were brought in April 2023.

Trump, the Republican candidate challenging Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 U.S. election, has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Bove did not specify where Trump’s team would like the trial to be held. Bove said a survey taken by Trump’s legal team of residents in heavily Democratic Manhattan, one of New York City’s five boroughs, found that 61% of respondents thought Trump was guilty, and 70% had a negative opinion of him.

“There is real potential prejudice here to moving forward,” Bove said. “Jury selection cannot proceed in a fair manner starting next week in this county.”

Wu said biased jurors can be weeded out during the jury selection process, and that Trump cannot cite media attention as a reason to move the trial.

“He himself has been responsible for stoking that publicity,” Wu said.

A criminal trial would be the first for a former U.S. president.

Trump is accused of covering up his former lawyer Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence before the 2016 presidential election about a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump a decade earlier. Trump has denied any such encounter with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

It is one of four criminal cases he faces. The others stem from his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden, and his handling of sensitive government documents after leaving the presidency in 2021. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Will Dunham and David Gregorio)

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