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Hush Money Trial Judge Pokes Holes in Trump’s Delay Bid

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The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s upcoming hush money case in Manhattan demanded to know why the former president waited until the last minute to complain about missing evidence, a tactic that threw trial plans into chaos this month when the feds suddenly dumped 200,000 pages of evidence.

“Why didn’t you bring any of this to my attention?” New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan asked.

The judge seemed perturbed that Trump’s team never brought it up during what was supposed to be the final pretrial hearing on Feb. 15—only to have this issue crop up a month later, just weeks before the start of the first ever criminal trial against a former American president.

These Under-the-Radar Rulings in the Stormy Daniels Hush Money Case Are Really Bad for Trump

In court, lead Trump defense lawyer Todd Blanche accused the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office of misconduct, claiming that the batch of records his team had just received from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York proved that DA prosecutors held back evidence.

For more than a year, the former president’s legal team has been trying to probe the personal life of Michael Cohen—the one-time Trump confidante who has since become a key witness in the DA’s case—and they scored a win by prodding SDNY for Cohen’s emails despite resistance from the DA and even the judge.

“There’s tremendous amounts of bank records that were produced, and people think we can simply ignore those,” Blanche said in court. “I mean, thousands and thousands… meetings with witnesses and the FBI related to the 2016 election.”

“You mean the Mueller investigation?” the judge asked impatiently, referring to the Justice Department’s Trump-Russia investigation.

“Yes,” Blanche responded.

“That’s not relevant,” Merchan shot back. “That has nothing to do with this case. I decide if it’s relevant. If you’re going to offer something from the Muller investigation, it’s not coming in.”

“The witness discussed what his job was,” Blanche said.

Prosecutors have decried the invasive maneuver as nothing but a vengeful payback scheme to discredit a valuable witness and distract from the real issue: how Trump engaged in a coverup, using Cohen as a cutout to deliver Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep her quiet about their one-night stand in order to save his 2016 presidential campaign from an embarrassing scandal and faking business records to hide Cohen’s reimbursement.

When the judge turned to the DA’s team, he heard an alternate take from Matt Colangelo, an assistant district attorney who has investigated Trump for years at the Attorney General’s office and now with the DA. Colangelo told the judge that most of the documents recently produced by the feds were mostly copies that Trump already had—and actually strengthened the case, not weakened it. Merchan pointedly asked how many records were actually new.

Judge Rules Full Speed Ahead on Trump’s Manhattan Criminal Trial

“Three hundred records or fewer… almost exclusively cumulative and largely inculpatory,” Colangelo said.

“Largely inculpatory?” the judge asked.

“Right, your Honor,” the prosecutor responded.

Although DA Alvin Bragg Jr. was in the courtroom, he remained quiet and seated with the audience a few feet behind the table where his prosecutors argued the case.

While Trump was in court, he was also dealing with an entirely different legal nightmare in New York State. The business tycoon, having just lost a three-month bank fraud trial, failed to find a surety company willing to prove him a half billion dollar lifeline to halt last month’s $464 million judgment before a Sunday night deadline. Monday marked the first day that New York AG Letitia James could move to seize his various properties, something that Trump earlier in the morning was raging about on his Truth Social media site.

“Why should I be forced to sell my ‘babies,’” he complained in a post just before heading to the Manhattan courtroom for the day’s hearing.

James has already effectively put a blanket lien on his 212-acre, forested estate of Seven Springs north of the city earlier this month.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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