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Prosecutors say Trump ‘stoked and encouraged’ the publicity he’s citing as a reason to delay his hush money trial


Prosecutors in New York on Wednesday urged a judge to reject Donald Trump‘s bid to delay his impending criminal trial because of pre-trial publicity, arguing the former president “has constantly stoked and encouraged such publicity.”

Trump’s “own incessant rhetoric is generating significant publicity, and it would be perverse to reward defendant with an adjournment based on media attention he is actively seeking,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said. The filing was in response to a request by Trump’s lawyers to delay the trial for the foreseeable future because of “prejudicial” publicity around the case.

“Defendant here has done much more than simply give occasional statements: instead, he has repeatedly invited public attention to this criminal trial through campaign rallies, online social media posts, television interviews by himself and his counsel, and frequent press conferences — including in the very hallway of the courthouse just steps away from the courtroom before and after court appearances,” the DA’s filing said.

An attorney for Trump did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

Trump’s attorneys contended in a court filing last month their client “cannot get a fair trial in New York County right now” because of the large amount of negative press coverage, as well as repeated public statements by two key witnesses in the case, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen and adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign for her silence about her claims that she had a sexual encounter with Trump years earlier. Trump has denied Daniels’ claim, but prosecutors maintain he directed Cohen to make the payment and then repaid him in disbursements that were falsely classified as legal expenses. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

Trump’s filing said Cohen “has and will continue to spew vitriol into the public sphere regarding President Trump,” and Daniels has made remarks critical of the president while a new documentary about her on NBCUniversal’s streaming platform Peacock includes her “prejudicial, false commentary about this case and President Trump.” (NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC News.)

The DA’s office said it has no real “means of enforcing restrictions on the speech of Cohen and Daniels, who are private citizens. In any event, there is no indication that their public statements have materially affected the overall level of publicity attached to this case, especially compared to the extensive national press coverage of defendant’s own provocative remarks. Nor is there any reason to think that an adjournment would make a difference: the press is likely to seek comment from these individuals whenever defendant’s trial occurs, regardless of whether the trial begins on April 15 or on a later date.”

Prosecutors also noted there will always be publicity swirling around the case.

“Because this trial is a criminal proceeding against a former president, the press attention will be substantial regardless of when (or, for that matter, where) this trial is held,” the filing said.  

The DA noted that the judge rejected a similar request by Trump’s lawyers in February, and that there’s no reason for him to change his position. They also told Judge Juan Merchan the effort is the eighth time Trump has moved to adjourn the trial, which is scheduled to begin jury selection in less than two weeks.

“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,” the filing argued.


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