Trump keeps trying to delay hush money trial—but judge so far isn’t buying it



Former President Donald Trump’s first criminal trial is set to begin in less than two weeks, and the former president has been making a number of last-ditch attempts to postpone it—which so far aren’t persuading the judge overseeing the case, who rejected an effort Wednesday to push back Trump’s trial because of “presidential immunity.”

Donald Trump Manhattan criminal case

Former Donald Trump speaks to the press during a break in a hearing in his Manhattan criminal case, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on March 25.

POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

Trump is set to go to trial April 15 in his Manhattan criminal case, in which he faces 34 felony counts of falsification of business records that stem from “hush money” payments made during his 2016 campaign.

Judge Juan Merchan rejected Trump’s motion to postpone the trial until after the Supreme Court determines whether Trump has “immunity” from prosecution in a separate criminal case, with Trump claiming some of the evidence prosecutors plan to introduce at the hush money trial could be covered under “presidential immunity.”

Merchan ruled Wednesday that Trump made the immunity claims too late—and suggested he believed the ex-president’s filing was just a delay tactic, noting the fact that Trump waited until just 17 days before the trial’s original start date to bring the motion “raises real questions about [its] sincerity and actual purpose.”

Trump has now made eight various requests to postpone the trial’s start date, prosecutors noted in a court filing Wednesday—none of which have yet proved successful, though the trial was pushed back from March 25 to April 15 after prosecutors also agreed to a short delay after a last-minute influx of evidence.

What To Watch For

It’s unclear when Merchan will rule on Trump’s other requests to postpone his trial, but assuming he rules against them, the trial will begin on April 15 with jury selection. The trial is expected to last approximately six weeks. Trump faces up to 136 years in prison and $170,000 in fines if he’s convicted of all counts against him and given the maximum sentence—which is unlikely, as legal experts believe Trump won’t face any prison time as a first-time offender.

Chief Critic

“It would be perverse to reward [Trump] with an adjournment based on media attention he is actively seeking,” prosecutors from the DA’s office told the court in a filing Wednesday opposing Trump’s motion to delay the trial because of pretrial publicity, arguing the former president “simply cannot have it both ways: complaining about the prejudicial effect of pretrial publicity, while seeking to pollute the jury pool himself by making baseless and inflammatory accusations about this trial, specific witnesses, individual prosecutors, and the Court itself.” Prosecutors also noted Trump’s motion also “acknowledge[d] that there is no end in sight to public coverage of this criminal proceeding, laying bare his strategy of obtaining an open-ended delay of the trial.”

What We Don’t Know

When Trump’s other three criminal cases will go to trial, as Trump’s delay tactics in other cases have been more successful. The ex-president’s federal case for trying to overturn the 2020 election is paused until the Supreme Court rules on his request to have the charges dropped based on “presidential immunity”—meaning the case could resume as late as the end of June, pushing back a trial until at least late summer or early fall—while the case over him allegedly mishandling White House documents is delayed after Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon pushed back a host of deadlines in the case. A Georgia case against Trump and his allies for trying to overturn the 2020 election also still does not have a trial yet, after the proceedings got briefly derailed by Trump and his co-defendants’ failed efforts to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.


In addition to motions refusing Trump’s requests to postpone his trial, Merchan has also imposed a gag order against the former president, barring him from making public statements about potential witnesses, court staff and counsel that could interfere with the case. The judge expanded the gag order on Monday, broadening it to include family members of the Court and prosecutors following Trump’s attacks against Merchan’s daughter.

Key Background

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg indicted Trump in March 2023 based on the hush money payments, marking the first criminal charges against Trump—and the first time a former president had ever been indicted on criminal charges. The indictment stems from a $130,000 payment ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 campaign. Trump then allegedly reimbursed Cohen $420,000—covering the $130,000 plus additional costs, including Cohen’s taxes on the payment—through a series of incremental payments, which were made through the Trump Organization and, prosecutors allege, were unlawfully concealed as being for legal fees. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, which he has decried as a “witch hunt.” The former president has broadly been trying to delay the cases against him from going to trial before the November election, as polling suggests any convictions could hurt him with swing voters. In the case of Trump’s federal cases, postponing the trials could also lead to the charges against him being dropped entirely, as if Trump wins the election, he could appoint Justice Department prosecutors willing to drop the charges. Trump has frequently claimed “presidential immunity” as he’s sought to have his criminal cases delayed or dismissed, though courts have so far repeatedly rejected his claims. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments April 25 on whether Trump and other former presidents are “immune” from criminal prosecution for acts when they were in office.

This article was first published on and all figures are in USD.

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