Judge overseeing Trump's New York criminal trial issues orders denying nearly all of Trump's pre-trial motions, granting nearly all of the prosecution's requests

 March 19, 2024

Former President Donald Trump's criminal trial in New York on falsification of business records charges is slated to begin next month after a temporary delay, and how that eventual trial will play out is beginning to take shape.

Presiding Judge Juan Merchan issued two separate orders that included his decisions on a host of pre-trial motions submitted by both the defense and prosecutors, and the overwhelming majority of those decisions were in favor of the prosecutors, according to The Hill.

The bulk of those motions from both sides dealt with could and could not be submitted as evidence during the trial, and it was clear from Merchan's rulings that Trump will face a decided disadvantage in that regard.

Judge denies virtually all motions from Trump to preclude certain evidence and testimony from trial

Judge Merchan first issued a nine-page order to address former President Trump's motions, the first of which asked to preclude the testimony of former personal attorney Michael Cohen, the prosecution's star witness, on account of his lengthy documented history of being a dishonest perjurer.

That motion was denied as the judge preposterously claimed that there was no evidence Cohen had ever lied about the matter at hand -- the alleged falsification of business records to cover up payments to Cohen in 2017 that reimbursed him for making "hush money" payments in 2016 to silence individuals with "salacious" claims against Trump.

Merchan also denied motions that sought to preclude arguments from the prosecution that the alleged payments improperly influenced the 2016 election, that those payments included an "element of intent to defraud," and any alleged evidence of a broader "catch-and-kill scheme" to keep embarrassing stories hidden from the public.

Trump did win a partial victory in terms of a split decision from the judge on his request to preclude testimony from porn actress Stormy Daniels, former Playboy model Karen McDougal, and former Trump Tower doorman Dino Sajudin -- all of whom were allegedly paid to remain silent about their "salacious" claims against Trump. Those three individuals will be allowed to testify, but their testimony will be limited by the court.

Finally, Merchan denied Trump's request to exclude the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape from evidence, arguments from the prosecution about federal campaign finance laws, the records of the media organization allegedly involved in the "catch-and-kill scheme," Trump's ties to the Trump Organization, and Trump's own prior statements that prosecutors intend to use against him.

Judge largely rules in favor of the prosecutors' motions

Following that almost entirely one-sided order denying former President Trump's motions, Judge Merchan issued a 13-page order in which he did nearly the exact opposite and granted virtually all of the requests made by the prosecution.

That includes strictly limiting the testimony of Trump's "expert" witness on campaign finance laws and prohibiting Trump from arguing that he shouldn't be prosecuted because both the Federal Election Commission and Justice Department declined to charge him for similar alleged campaign finance violations.

"That the FEC dismissed the complaint against Defendant and the DOJ decided against prosecuting Defendant for potential FECA violations are probative of nothing. These matters are therefore irrelevant and Defendant is precluded from eliciting testimony or introducing evidence about both," Merchan wrote. "There are countless reasons why the FEC and DOJ could have decided not to pursue enforcement against Defendant, all having nothing to do with whether he is guilty of the charges here against him."

The judge also noted that, per prosecutors' requests, he would strictly limit Trump's ability to argue that he is the victim of selective prosecution or government misconduct, and likewise granted a motion to exclude any defense arguments or evidence showing Cohen's lack of credibility in the view of federal prosecutors.

He further granted motions from the prosecutors that would preclude Trump from raising certain defense arguments related to "advice of counsel" during the trial, as well as other arguments Trump previously intended to raise but had been previously ruled against by the judge.

Finally, Merchan reserved judgment on a motion from prosecutors to submit alleged evidence of other "bad acts" by Trump against other alleged victims, and signaled that he would render a decision on multiple points raised in that motion once he had an opportunity to more thoroughly review what prosecutors intended to submit.

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