Trump to sue judge in last-ditch attempt to avoid criminal trial over hush money

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Donald J. Trump, one week away Facing trial in Manhattan on criminal charges of falsifying records to cover up a sex scandal.has indicated that he plans to file a lawsuit against the judge handling the case.

The lawsuit was not immediately made public, but court records showed on Monday that Trump was filing an action against the judge. Juan M. Merchan, in a last-minute attempt to delay the case. An online court filing where Trump is filing the action showed related paperwork was sealed.

Two people with knowledge of the matter said Trump’s lawyers planned to file the lawsuit Monday asking an appeals court to delay the trial and challenge a silence order that Judge Merchán recently imposed on the former president. The order prevents Trump from attacking witnesses, prosecutors and the judge’s own family.

Trump’s unorthodox move (essentially an appeal in the form of a lawsuit) is unlikely to succeed, especially so close to the trial.

And the appeals court could move quickly to reject it. A single appeals court judge will most likely issue a preliminary ruling on Monday, setting up a full five-judge panel to consider Trump’s request in the coming days.

In a separate filing with the appeals court on Monday, Trump was expected to ask the court to move the trial out of Manhattan. The request reflects his deep unpopularity in the solidly Democratic district.

Trump’s lawyers have tried several times to delay the trial, but this is their first attempt in an appeals court. The former president, who is once again the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, intends to take his four criminal cases beyond election day. If he wins, the cases will likely stop.

This latest effort to stop the Manhattan case – the first prosecution of a former US president and possibly the only Trump criminal case to go to trial this year – comes as Trump separately asks Judge Merchan to recuse himself from the bench. case. case.

Trump and his lawyers argue that the judge has a conflict of interest, citing his daughter’s position at a Democratic consulting firm that worked for President Biden’s 2020 campaign.

Trump has repeatedly attacked Judge Merchan’s daughter on social media and published articles with her photo, prompting the judge to expand the gag order to prohibit Trump from attacking her.

The judge could rule the recusal request in the days to come. He rejected Trump’s first recusal request, filed last year, and he is likely to do the same this time.

In response to Trump’s most recent request, prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which brought the charges against Trump, wrote that Trump “predominantly repeats the same arguments he presented in his first recusal motion more than ten years ago.” years”. months ago and which this court previously considered and rejected.”

Prosecutors added that the recusal request was based on “a chain of innuendo.”

A spokeswoman for District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg declined to comment on Monday’s appeal.

Lawsuits against judges are unusual, but this is not Trump’s first attempt to use that tactic to try to delay a trial. Last year, he sued the New York judge presiding over his civil fraud trial, an attempt the appeals court ultimately rejected.

Trump filed both lawsuits as so-called Article 78 actions, a special procedure that can be used to challenge New York state government agencies and, in some cases, judges.

Kate Christobek contributed reports.

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