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Donald Trump will face trial on March 25 in New York for criminal hush money case.

Trump to Stand Trial on March 25 in NY Criminal Hush Money Case

Trump’s Trial Date Set

Donald Trump will become the first former U.S. president to stand trial on criminal charges after a New York judge on Thursday denied his request to dismiss an indictment stemming from hush money paid to a porn star and set a March 25 trial date. Justice Juan Merchan’s ruling during a testy hearing in Manhattan means that Trump will stand trial in at least one of the four criminal cases he faces as he pursues the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 U.S. election.

Trump’s Request Denied

Trump, 77, had asked Merchan to toss the 34-count indictment, which charges him with falsifying business records to cover up the $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. Merchan took less than 10 minutes to deny his request and confirm the trial date.

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Political Motivation Claims

Ahead of the hearing, Trump repeated his claims that the case is politically motivated. “They wouldn’t have brought this except for the fact – no way – except for the fact that I’m running for president and doing well,” Trump said in a hallway outside the courtroom.

Protesters and Trial Details

A handful of protesters held signs denouncing Trump and shouted “no dictators in the U.S.A.” outside the courthouse. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat. The trial is set to start before Trump’s three other criminal cases.

Case Background

The case centers on former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Daniels – whose real name is Stephanie Clifford – to prevent her from publicly speaking ahead of the 2016 election about a sexual encounter she has said she had with Trump a decade earlier. Trump has denied this occurred. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to violating federal campaign finance laws.

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Impact on Nomination

Trump may effectively have wrapped up the Republican nomination by the time the trial is scheduled to start. Dozens more will have taken place before the trial date. Opinion polls show him with a wide lead over his lone remaining primary challenger, Nikki Haley, and effectively tied with Biden.

Legal Calendar Overlap

Trump’s political and legal calendars are increasingly overlapping ahead of his expected rematch with Biden, who defeated him in the 2020 election. Trump has used his frequent court dates to help raise money for his presidential campaign, though the strategy is seeing diminishing returns after he raked in millions around his first appearances last year.

Trump’s Legal Challenges

Trump also faces federal charges in Washington over his efforts to overturn his election loss and in Florida over his handling of classified documents. Trump has pleaded not guilty in all the cases.

Prosecutors’ Arguments

Prosecutors in the hush money case have said Trump’s New York-based family real estate company recorded Trump’s 2017 reimbursements to Cohen as legal expenses, violating a state law against falsifying business records to conceal another crime. They have said Trump was seeking to cover up federal campaign finance law violations as well as violations of a state law that prohibits promoting a candidacy by unlawful means.

Trump’s Defense

Trump’s lawyers have argued that he had been targeted for “selective prosecution.” Bragg’s office has said anyone else who behaved similarly would have been prosecuted, pointing to Cohen’s guilty plea.

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