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US: Donald Trump laments New York criminal trial, calls it election interference by Biden

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New York | February 16, 2024 5:54:23 AM IST
Former US President Donald Trump criticised the New York criminal trial, calling it election interference by US President Joe Biden "because it's the only way he can think to get elected because he's accomplished nothing," CNN reported.

Trump said he's "honoured" to "sit here day after day after day" on something the "greatest legal scholars say it's not even a crime." Asked how he would campaign while in court, Trump responded, "I'll do it in the evening," CNN reported.

Earlier, Trump said that he would be in court during the day and campaign during the night. He accused the White House, the New York attorney general, the Department of Justice and the Manhattan district attorney of being coordinated against him.

Speaking to reporters, Trump said, "I'll be here during the day, and I'll be campaigning during the night," taking a dig at the US president, saying "Biden should be doing the same thing but he'll be sleeping," CNN reported.

He also spoke about his recent statement on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) at the courthouse hallway camera. Trump said, "NATO countries have to pay up. They have to pay their bills."

He stated, "They are not paying up, they are not paying what they should, and they laugh at the stupidity of the United States of America where we have a guy that gives 60 billion dollars every time somebody comes and asks for it."

A judge on Thursday ruled that former US President Donald Trump's first criminal trial will begin on March 25. Justice Juan Merchan set the trial date after denying Trump's attempts to dismiss charges of hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, Politico reported.

Former US President's lawyer Todd Blanche repeatedly requested the judge to postpone the trial date while Trump looked on from the defence table during the hearing in Manhattan criminal court on Thursday. The court's decision means that Trump will spend weeks in court instead of campaigning for the general elections.

During the hearing, which lasted for over 90 minutes, Blanche said, "We strenuously object to what is happening in this courtroom." He said, "The fact that President Trump is going to now spend the next two months working on this trial instead of out on the campaign trail running for president -- it should not happen in this country."

Trump's lawyer called the decision "completely election interference," reiterating Trump's remarks that he had made on his way into the courtroom, according to Politico report.

In a 30-page ruling issued on Thursday, Justice Juan Merchan denied Trump's bid to dismiss the hush money charges. Donald Trump among other things had argued that the prosecution by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, was politically motivated.

In the ruling, Merchan wrote that those arguments "strain credulity." He wrote that prosecutors "have demonstrated that the investigation and ensuing prosecution commenced following public reporting of Defendant's ties to criminal conduct that took place in New York before the 2016 presidential election." The trial is expected to last about six weeks.

Notably, former US President Donald Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to the hush money payments. He allegedly arranged the money through an intermediary in the closing weeks of the presidential campaign in 2016 to quash Daniels' sexual encounter with Trump.

The indictment stated that Trump falsified the payments in the Trump Organization's corporate records and never mentioned the money in campaign finance documents as required, Politico reported.

The hush money case is one of four criminal trials faced by Trump as he makes efforts towards the nomination of a Republican candidate for the US. The schedules for the other three cases remain unclear.

Trump faces two cases for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results while one for hoarding classified documents. Prosecutors in those cases are making efforts to start the trials before the elections set to be held in the US in 2024. However, Trump wants to postpone the trials or have the cases dismissed entirely.

During the hearing, Justice Merchan said he held talks twice last week with the judge overseeing Trump's federal criminal case in Washington, DC US District Judge Tanya Chutkan, to coordinate the scheduling of the trial.

The court's hearing on Thursday also touched on jury selection for the trial set to be held in March. Blanche stated that Trump's legal cases have caused scheduling difficulties and an "extraordinarily prejudicial" environment in choosing jurors, according to Politico report.

Referring to two recent Trump trials, a civil fraud trial over a lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Tish James and a defamation trial over a lawsuit brought by the writer E Jean Carroll, Blanche complained about "the outsized and extraordinary media saturation that we are experiencing in this city right now." He suggested that it would complicate the work of finding unbiased jurors for a trial due to be held in March.

During the hearing, when Justice Merchan asked whether Blanche had concluded his arguments about the trial date, Blanche replied, "I would like to talk about it all day, judge." The lawyers also held discussions on proposed questions to be asked to prospective jurors, Politico reported.

Prosecutors requested questions like whether jurors believe the 2020 election was stolen. Trump's lawyers proposed questions, including one about whether a prospective juror has ever contributed to a political campaign or political action committee. (ANI)

 
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