A Manhattan judge set former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial date for the middle of the primary season, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.
Trump appeared virtually in a court hearing regarding the criminal investigation into whether alleged hush money payments were made via forged business records, according to the AP. Judge Juan Merchan scheduled Trump’s criminal trial to March 25, forcing the former president to come before the Manhattan court room amid the highly contentious primary season. (RELATED: Manhattan Judge Restricts Trump From Posting Evidence In Hush-Money Criminal Case)
The former president expressed frustration during his appearance, and threw his hands up when Merchan ordered him to cancel all other plans for the newly-scheduled court appearance, which could last for weeks, according to the AP. Trump took to Truth Social following his virtual courtroom visit, and argued the judge infringed on his First Amendment rights.
“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,” Trump wrote. “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!!!”
The former president’s attorney, Susan Necheles, said Trump already knew this would be the date before attending the hearing Tuesday, according to the AP.
Merchan ordered Trump to refrain from making social media posts about evidence gathered through discovery in the case on May 8 after the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office requested the judge limit the former president’s ability to do so. Trump’s lawyers have pushed back against the order, arguing it violates the former president’s Freedom of Speech.
The Manhattan grand jury indicted Trump on March 30, and he pleaded not guilty to 34 charges on April 4. The years-long case investigates the $130,000 in alleged hush money payments to former porn star actress Stormy Daniels, made by Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, to ensure she kept quiet about an alleged affair, and whether the former president paid Cohen back via forged business records.
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