04/14/2024

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Hush money trial should be delayed due to media bias

Former President Donald Trump arrives for a news conference on Monday, March 25, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Attorneys representing former President Donald Trump recently filed a motion to adjourn his impending New York City hush money trial.

In the 31-page motion, the 45th president’s defense team claims their client “cannot get a fair trial in Manhattan County right now.”

“[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,” the motion reads. “Therefore, the Court should adjourn the trial date until the prejudicial media coverage subsides.”

The twin hearts of the motion for further adjournment are a poll of New York State residents and an accompanying media study that purport to show publicity has infected the case to the point that the defendant’s “right to a fair trial” has been called into doubt.

According to the motion, 400 residents were polled in New York County and four surrounding counties that make up the suburban outskirts of the five boroughs which also includes the relatively politically conservative borough of Staten Island.

“[P]otential jurors in Manhattan have been exposed to huge amounts of biased and unfair media coverage relating to this case,” the motion argues, referring to the survey. “Many of the potential jurors already wrongfully believe that President Trump is guilty.”

The motion goes on to cite some “1,223 online news articles between January 15, 2024 and February 24, 2024” which allegedly “provided details regarding the Peoples allegations and purported evidence as well as opinions about this case” during the six-week period.

The filing also claims a “significant number” of the articles from the media study in question contain “prejudicial discussion of other proceedings involving President Trump and inaccurate and irrelevant discussions of alleged sexual misconduct” including rape.

According to Trump’s motion, the survey shows 88% of respondents had read or heard information about the “hush money” payments. And, the motion notes in a chart, there were 142 mentions of “hush money” in the articles identified by the media study.

The end result, Trump’s defense attorney’s claim, is that the prospective panel of jurors in the case has been “saturated” by anti-Trump media.

“The Survey and the Media Study provide quantitative force to that research and establish that potential jurors in New York County have been bombarded with online media coverage relating to this case and prejudicial references to other cases and irrelevant matters,” the motion argues. “Moreover, the Media Study does not even capture the incredible amount of prejudicial television coverage, which has been too voluminous to tally.”

The motion goes on to cite additional poll questions and responses that they argue show an “overwhelming bias against President Trump” by residents in New York County which the motion also takes stock of by including presidential voting data. All this together, the court filing argues, compounds the pretrial publicity issues.

The People have sought to make their case a review of President Trump’s victory in the 2016 election,” the motion argues. “We have objected to those efforts in motions in limine, but respondents’ accounts of their voting history sheds light on the improper purpose behind the prosecution strategy.”

While mainly arguing that “significant adjournment is further supported by current prejudicial pretrial publicity,” the filing also references since-dispensed-with arguments that the defense needs additional time to review some 170,000-plus Michael Cohen-related documents recently dumped on them by federal prosecutors.

The filing marks the second time this month that Trump’s attorneys have moved to adjourn his trial on a 34-count indictment over alleged book-cooking in relation to the Stormy Daniels sex scandal.

In early March, attorney Todd Blanche filed a motion to adjourn the Empire States case against Trump until the U.S. Supreme Court rules onpresidential immunity issuesarguably implicated by some of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Braggs recent pretrial motions.

The adjournment motion also takes issue with Cohen’s and Daniels’ appearances in the media. Trump’s attorneys claim the district attorney’s office has improperly sought to boost both of them.

“The fact that President Trump cannot get a fair trial in New York County right now is underscored by recent actions by DANY and its star witnesses, Michael Cohen and Stephanie Clifford,” the motion goes on. “DANY has used strategic leaks to prejudice President Trump since the early days of its ‘zombie’ investigation in 2018.”

While dated March 18, news of the motion to adjourn came fresh off a tripartite thrashing via court orders by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan earlier on Tuesday copies of the motion were distributed to the press just moments after three setbacks for the defense were filed on the case’s public docket.

In a quick succession of orders, the ex-president’s attorneys were threatened with sanctions over their too-numerous pretrial filings, the defense was denied a request to unseal certain documents already filed, and Trump himself was subject to a limited gag order.

Trump’s first criminal trial is currently slated to begin with jury selection on April 15 and is expected to last roughly six weeks.

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