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Trump arrives in court for hearing in Stormy Daniels hush-money case

Trump arrives in court for hearing in Stormy Daniels hush-money case
Donald Trump walked into a Manhattan courtroom on Monday morning for a hearing on his hush-money criminal case.

Trump, wearing a navy suit, red tie, and white shirt, entered the courtroom at 958am, without much of an expression on his face. Right before entering the room, the former US president railed about the case, saying in the courthouse hall: “This is a witch-hunt and a hoax.”

While the ex-presidents’s trial involving the adult film star Stormy Daniels was originally scheduled to start this morning, Monday’s proceedings will weigh Trump’s recent receipt of more than 100,000 pages of discovery documents just weeks before his trial’s scheduled commencement.

Related: Risk of more delay hovers over Trump hush-money case hearing

Trump’s lawyers had asked Judge Juan Merchan to delay the trial at least 90 days, or dismiss it, over what they called “violations” in the discovery process – that is, they claim Manhattan state prosecutors did not follow legal requirements to disclose evidence to them in a timely manner.

The office of the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, which agreed to a month-long postponement so that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee can review the documents, insists that still more postponement is not necessary.

The prosecutors contend that they had followed with discovery law, determined that the minimal amount of relevant documents were “inculpatory” and that Trump’s lawyers were responsible for the delay.

The documents related to federal prosecutors’ investigation of Michael Cohen, Trump’s onetime consigliere turned prosecution witness. Several US attorneys offices had the documents in question, not the Manhattan DA. Manhattan state prosecutors had turned over many documents from Cohen’s federal proceedings to Trump’s team; the disclosures relate to some documents that had not been given to Bragg’s office.

Trump, prosecutors said, shuffled hundreds of thousands of dollars to Cohen as part of his effort to cover up allegations of extramarital affairs, and then listed the payouts as legal costs in his business records. In April 2023, prosecutors charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records, a class E felony.

Bragg’s office said that Cohen paid $130,000 to Daniels and coordinated with the National Enquirer’s publisher to give the former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000, to thwart their accounts of sexual encounters with Trump, which he denies. Trump’s namesake company then repaid Cohen $420,000 in a handful of installments, prosecutors said.

Trump’s camp is crying foul over having just recently receiving these documents.

“The People have engaged in widespread misconduct as part of a desperate effort to improve their position at the potential trial on the false and unsupported charges in the Indictment,” Trump’s lawyers argued in court filings.

They insist that these documents, which were generated during Manhattan federal prosecutors’ investigation into hush-money payments, included “reports relating to statements by Cohen that are exculpatory and favorable to the defense”.

Prosecutors wrote in court papers that Trump’s lawyers waited until January to make requests for additional Michael Cohen-related documents from federal prosecutors, writing: “The belated nature of the recent USAO productions is entirely a result of defendant’s own inexplicable and strategic delay in identifying perceived deficiencies.”

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