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Trump Hush Money Trial to Start on March 25

Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump attends a pre-trial hearing at Manhattan Criminal Court on February 15, 2024 in New York City. 

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A judge on Thursday said that jury selection in the New York hush money trial of former President Donald Trump will begin March 25, and estimated that the trial will last six weeks.

Judge Juan Merchan confirmed that previously set trial start date after denying Tump’s request to dismiss the case, where the Republican is charges with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to the payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels.

“We are moving ahead with March 25th,” Merchan said.

Trump, who was in Manhattan Supreme Court for the hearing Thursday, will be the first former president to stand trial in a criminal case.

His lawyer Todd Blanche called the trial date a “great injustice” and “election interference, as Trump is seeking the GOP presidential nomination.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges stemming from a $130,000 payment to Daniels by his then-lawyer Michael Cohen shortly before the 2016 election in exchange for her silence about her alleged sexual tryst with the then-presidential nominee a decade earlier.

Trump, who denies having sex with Daniels, is the front-runner for the Republican nomination.

In addition to the hush money case, he faces three other pending criminal cases, all of which have a chance of going to trial this year.

“We are pleased that the Court denied the defense’s motion to dismiss,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement after the hearing ended Thursday morning. “We look forward to presenting our case in court on March 25, 2024.”

Former US President Donald Trump waves as he departs Trump Tower on his way to Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on February 15, 2024. 

Yuki Iwamura | AFP | Getty Images

During rhe hearing, Blanche complained to Merchan about the trial date being confirmed, saying “we’ve been put in an impossible position.”

Merchan snapped at Blanche for interrupting him as the judge responded to that argument.

“You know about this case … I had made clear this was a date certain, you proceeded at your own peril,” Merchan told the lawyer.

The judge dismissed Blanche’s argument that the trial in Manhattan would conflict with a previously scheduled trial in early March in Washington, D.C., federal court, where Trump is charged with crimes related to inteferring in the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Merchan noted that the March trial date in Washington was recently cancelled because Trump has appealed a ruling in that case which denied him presidential immunity from the charges.

“President Trump does have a right and an important right,” Merchan said.

“He will not be in more than one trial at the same time.”

Blanche later said, “We vehemently object to what is happening in this courtroom and that President Trump will spend the next two months preparing for this trial during a campaign.”

“It is just not something that should happen in this country,” Blanche said.

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Much of the rest of Thursday’s hearing was taken up by a discussion of proposed questions for the questionnaire that will be used to pick a jury in the case.

The proposed questions including asking jurors what news sites and shows they read and watch, whether they believe, as Trump argues, that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, if they have read any books by Trump, or given money to a political action committee.

“We are not interested in whether someone likes or dislikes President Trump, it is whether they can be a fair or impartial juror,” assistant district attorney Joshua Steinglass told Merchan.

“We will not find a juror who does not have an opinion of President Trump,” the prosecutor added.

Before entering the courtroom on Thursday, Trump said, “This is not a crime.”

He told reporters that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office filed the charges against him last year in the hush money case to harm his chances of winning the 2024 presidential election.

“This is being run by Joe Biden’s White House,” Trump said. “This is just a way of hurting me in the election.”

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