Judge denies motion to dismiss Trump’s New York hush money case

(NEW YORK) — The judge in former President Trump’s criminal hush money case in New York City says Trump’s trial will proceed on March 25 as planned, but the defense wants to delay that date.

In the case’s final hearing before the trial gets underway, Judge Juan Merchan began the proceedings Thursday by denying Trump’s motion to dismiss the case, saying the trial would begin March 25 with jury selection.

Defense attorney Todd Blanche responded by arguing for a delay.

Trump, who is present in the courtroom, entered the lower Manhattan courthouse shortly before 9 a.m. ET.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has charged Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, alleging that Trump falsified Trump Organization records to hide payments he made to his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who allegedly used the money to kill stories about Trump’s long-denied extramarital affairs with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal just days before the 2016 election.

Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges and has denied all wrongdoing. His attorney Todd Blanche has argued in pretrial motions that the payments to Cohen were lawful money transfers from Trump’s own personal bank accounts.

“President Trump cannot be said to have falsified business records of the Trump Organization by paying his personal attorney using his personal bank accounts,” Blanche wrote.

The judge overseeing the case, Juan Manuel Merchan, scheduled Thursday’s hearing late last year to resolve pretrial motions and finalize the trial’s start date, which is currently scheduled for March 25.

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