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Trump’s legal delaying tactics dealt a blow as he lashes out at judge’s family

In Europe
April 05, 2024
<span>Donald Trump arrives at 40 Wall Street after a court in his hush-money case in New York City last month.</span><span>Photograph: Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images</span>” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/a7eivaCswgs33DQkCZJRyw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/7973bd378d6332c8beb0a7c5a075e618″ data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/a7eivaCswgs33DQkCZJRyw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/theguardian_763/7973bd378d6332c8beb0a7c5a075e618″></div></div></div><p><figcaption class=Donald Trump arrives at 40 Wall Street after a court in his hush-money case in New York City last month.Photograph: Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump faced mounting trouble this week in his legal universe, with judges overseeing two of Trump’s legal cases refusing to accept his attempts to delay and toss the prosecution – and the former president doubling down on efforts to discredit his opponents.

The judge overseeing Trump’s criminal trial in New York expanded a gag order on Monday, which had originally banned Donald Trump from making public statements about court staff, trial witnesses or the families of any counsel or staff member on the case. The narrower gag order did not prohibit Trump from making statements about family members of the judge, and after Judge Juan Merchan issued it, the former president took to social media to attack the judge’s daughter.

“His Daughter,” wrote Trump on the social media platform Truth Social, “is a Rabid Trump Hater,” identifying her by name.

The new gag order would now prevent him from making statements like that – but Trump’s abusive commentary about her, and others involved with his trial has probably already prompted threats and harassment.

In a court filing unveiled on Tuesday, Trump also motioned for Merchan to recuse himself from the case, alleging his daughter’s consulting work for Democratic clients was a conflict of interest.

“It can no longer be ignored that Authentic’s commercial interests are benefited by developments in this case,” wrote Trump’s lawyers in the filing.

This is the second time Trump has attempted to oust the judge over his daughter’s work; last year, an ethics panel reviewed a similar argument by Trump’s legal team but found Merchan’s daughter and her firm did not pose a conflict of interest.

Merchan denied on 3 April Trump’s last-minute attempt to delay the trial until the supreme court rules on presidential immunity claims that arising out of a separate case.

The trial – over Trump’s efforts to suppress a sex scandal ahead of the 2016 election by allegedly falsifying business records to conceal hush-money payments to the former stripper and adult film star Stormy Daniels – is set to begin on 15 April. It will be the first-ever criminal trial of a former US president.

Meanwhile, US district judge Aileen Cannon, rejected Trump’s attempt to throw out the case alleging he mishandled and illegally retained classified documents. Trump had argued he was entitled to retain the documents under the Presidential Records Act; Cannon rejected his bid to toss the case on grounds the charges “make no reference to the Presidential Records Act, nor do they rely on that statute for purposes of stating an offense,” Cannon wrote.

Her finding nonetheless leaves open the possibility for Trump to use the theory that he had legitimately retained the documents under the Presidential Records Act, setting her on a collision course with the Department of Justice’s special counsel Jack Smith, who has called the Presidential Records Act theory a “fundamentally flawed legal premise” and said he would appeal to a higher court if the judge recognizes the theory.

Cannon has slow-walked the case over Trump’s alleged illegal retention of classified documents, which FBI agents uncovered at Mar-a-Lago in August 2022. Prosecutors hoped to begin the trial in July, but Cannon has not yet set a trial date, allowing Trump to postpone filing pre-trial motions required for the trial to commence.

That’s a win for Trump, who has sought to delay his numerous prosecutions ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

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