Trump shows in court for hush money trial and gets huge blow

New York, New York - A judge on Thursday rejected Donald Trump's attempts to dismiss charges of covering up hush money payments to a porn star, setting the stage for the first criminal trial of a former US president to begin on March 25.

On Thursday, the judge overseeing Donald Trump's hush money case set a trial date after rejecting a requesting from the former president to dismiss it.
On Thursday, the judge overseeing Donald Trump's hush money case set a trial date after rejecting a requesting from the former president to dismiss it.  © SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Trump, who has seized on his legal woes to fire up his supporters and denounce Democratic opponent Joe Biden, reiterated his claim that the charges were "just a way of hurting me in the election."

"How can you run for election if you are sitting in a courthouse in Manhattan all day long," he said as he arrived on Thursday.

In the courtroom, his legal team argued he would not receive a fair trial in New York because another Manhattan jury already awarded $83 million to E. Jean Carroll, a writer whom Trump was found to have sexually assaulted and defamed.

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Judge Juan Merchan rejected that, as well as arguments by Trump's lawyers that there was too much media coverage for a jury to be unbiased.

"Given all the information I have before me, we are moving ahead to jury selection on March 25," Merchan declared.

Donald Trump attorneys call attention to "the elephant in the room"

Donald Trump attending a pre-trial hearing at Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday in New York City.
Donald Trump attending a pre-trial hearing at Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday in New York City.  © POOL / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Trump, who wore his trademark red tie and dark suit, fidgeted in his seat in the courtroom as his lawyer argued with the judge and prosecutors over jury screening.

"We can't ignore the elephant in the room - Mr Trump is running for president... a juror's political affiliation is something we need to know and understand," said attorney Todd Blanche.

The former president faces 34 counts of accounting fraud linked to payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. Prosecutors say that Trump illegally covered up remittances to longtime aide Michael Cohen to reimburse him for payments to bury stories about Trump's alleged extramarital sexual relations with Daniels and a Playboy model.

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Trump for years rejoiced in his reputation as a playboy, but he denied the affair with Daniels, which she said began in 2006, or just after former first lady Melania gave birth to their son.

A New York grand jury indicted Trump in March 2023 over the payments made to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Leaving the courthouse, Trump described the proceedings as a "disgrace."

Cover photo: SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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