NOW: Trump Criminal Trial Date Announced

( – NEWS NOW: Donald Trump will go on trial starting March 25 in New York City for criminal charges that allege that he falsified business records related to hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. The date was just announced by the judge assigned to the case.

Controversely, this trial will get underway during the presidential primary season, less than eight months before the 2024 presidential election. Trump, maintaining his innocence, is pursuing the Republican nomination for the race.

Trump will make history as the first U.S. president, either sitting or former, to face criminal charges.

During a hearing on Tuesday, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan revealed the schedule for the trial.

Trump attended this hearing remotely via video. Judge Merchan cautioned Trump that he could face penalties if he violates an order that limits his ability to publicly disclose evidence or any other materials connected to this case.

The judge issued the protective order earlier this month after the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office expressed significant concerns that Trump may misuse the material or publish it on social media.

After the hearing, Trump took to his social media to criticize the timing of his trial and Judge Merchan. He wrote:

“Just had New York County Supreme Court hearing where I believe my First Amendment Rights, ‘Freedom of Speech,’ have been violated, and they forced upon us a trial date of March 25th, right in the middle of Primary season. Very unfair, but this is exactly what the Radical Left Democrats wanted. It’s called ELECTION INTERFERENCE, and nothing like this has ever happened in our Country before!!”

Judge Merchan instructed the prosecutors to submit their pretrial motions by August 29 and gave Trump’s legal team until October 10 to file their responses. He stated that he would pass judgment on the motions on January 4 at a hearing that Trump must attend in person.

Joseph Tacopina, one of Trump’s attorneys, refrained from commenting on the situation. A representative from Trump’s campaign has not yet responded to requests for comment.

In March, a grand jury indicted Trump, accusing him of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. These records allegedly distort the nature of payments tied to reimbursements that Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, made to his former attorney Michael Cohen. These payments followed Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Daniels before the 2016 presidential election. After receiving this money, Daniels promised to remain silent about her claim of a single sexual encounter with Trump years ago, shortly after Melania Trump, his wife, had given birth to their son, Barron. Trump denies having a sexual relationship with the adult film actress.

The indictment suggests that these payments to Daniels and another by The National Enquirer to Playboy model Karen McDougal were intended to prevent their claims of sexual relations with Trump from affecting his chances against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

Trump is also under investigation in three other criminal cases, which could result in additional charges.

In Georgia, the district attorney of Fulton County is contemplating whether to seek an indictment of Trump and others for their attempts to have state officials overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win in Georgia.

Separately, the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn his loss to Biden in the national Electoral College results that year, along with his actions leading up to and during the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, by his supporters. The DOJ is also examining Trump’s refusal to hand over hundreds of government records, many classified, after leaving the White House.

Finally, on May 9, a civil jury in a Manhattan federal court trial found Trump accountable for sexually abusing writer E. Jean Carroll during an encounter at a New York department store in the mid-1990s and for defaming her when she came forward with her claim that Trump had raped her in 2019.