The prosecutors in Donald Trump’s hush-money case have requested a Manhattan judge to compel the former president to reveal his defense strategy by a specific date or risk causing “significant trial disruption.”
What Happened: The prosecutors have asked Trump to disclose by Feb. 12 whether he plans to mount an advice-of-counsel defense when the trial commences six weeks later, reported Business Insider on Friday.
In such a defense, Trump would argue that he is not liable for allegedly falsifying business documents to conceal a 2016 hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels because he was acting on legal advice.
The prosecutors have also requested all relevant communications linked to that defense be produced by the same deadline. “Will avoid the risk of significant trial disruption,” lead prosecutor Matthew Colangelo wrote to Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.
Trump’s lawyers, Susan Necheles and Todd Blanche argue that Trump wants to wait until other pretrial motions are decided before formally disclosing his defense strategy. They say that, according to New York law and legal precedent, Trump is not required to reveal his hand pre-trial on an advice-of-counsel defense.
Why It Matters: This development comes on the heels of Trump’s request to the federal appeals court to overturn a federal judge’s ruling in July last year. The judge had decided that the hush-money criminal case against Trump should remain in a New York state court.
The case revolves around Trump facing 34 felony counts related to falsifying business records, including reimbursements he made to his former attorney, Michael Cohen, who in turn made hush payments to Daniels and others before the 2016 election. The prosecution alleges that Trump mischaracterized these reimbursements as a legal retainer to conceal criminal activities.
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