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Judge rejects Trump's presidential immunity claim

Former President Donald Trump lost a bid to delay his New York hush money trial on the grounds that he has “presidential immunity” after a judge found his motion to dismiss was filed after a key filing deadline.

Trump had asked the judge to delay the start of the trial until after the Supreme Court rules on whether he is immune from prosecution on charges involving official acts he took during his time in office, an issue that arose in one of special counsel Jack Smith’s federal indictments. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the issue on April 25 and may not release a ruling until June, and jury selection is slated to begin on April 15 for the Manhattan trial.

Because New York Judge Juan Merchan found that Trump’s motion was “untimely,” he said there was no reason to address the question of whether presidential immunity “precludes the introduction of evidence of purported official presidential acts in a criminal proceeding.”

The failed motion marked Trump’s latest effort to delay his four criminal cases as he seeks another term in the Oval Office. At least the two federal indictments against Trump could come to an immediate halt if he is reelected as president.

Trump secured a three-week delay in the hush money case, pushing it from late March to mid-April, after new investigative records emerged from the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. Defense attorneys said the troves of new records should push the trial back at least 90 days, or should result in outright dismissal of the case.

Merchan recently denied Trump’s bid for an extended delay and strongly rebuked Trump’s legal team for making such an effort.

The Manhattan case stems from a hush money deal between porn star Stormy Daniels and Trump’s former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen in the final days of the 2016 campaign. The 34-count indictment from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, an elected Democrat, accused Trump of falsifying business records related to the payment.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and in recent days has sought to delay the trial on the basis that he is facing “prejudicial” media coverage.

“[N]o fair and impartial jury can be selected in this County at any time in the near future, including in April of this year. Therefore, the Court should adjourn the trial date until the prejudicial media coverage subsides,” Trump attorney Todd Blanche wrote in a motion made public last week.

On Wednesday, prosecutor Matthew Colangelo wrote that Trump is the one who “deliberately generates press attention himself.”

“Defendant 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,” Colangelo wrote in a filing that became public on Wednesday.

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