Will Donald Trump go on trial next month in New York criminal case? Judge expected to rule Thursday

Donald Trump is anticipated to make a court appearance in New York on Thursday, where a crucial hearing may determine the commencement of his first criminal trial in just 39 days. The hearing, set in the same Manhattan courtroom where Trump previously pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records, pertains to his March 25 hush-money trial date.

This court session marks Trump’s first return to the New York criminal case since being indicted last April, making him the inaugural ex-president charged with a crime. Despite subsequent indictments in Florida, Georgia, and Washington, D.C., Trump’s legal focus is currently on the New York case.

Judge Juan Manuel Merchan, overseeing the proceedings, has taken measures to prepare for the trial, potentially marking the first of Trump’s four criminal cases to reach the trial stage. Despite Trump’s attempts to challenge Judge Merchan’s impartiality and relocate the case, these efforts have proven unsuccessful.

This legal development aligns with a series of ongoing legal activities for Trump, who intertwines his court involvement with his political campaign. The recent delay of the March 4 trial in Trump’s Washington, D.C. election interference case has facilitated the prospect of starting the New York trial as scheduled.

Simultaneously, in Atlanta, a judge is set to decide whether Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis should be disqualified from Trump’s Georgia election interference case due to a perceived “personal relationship” with a special prosecutor.

Trump is also awaiting a verdict in a New York civil fraud case that poses a threat to his real estate empire. This case alleges Trump inflated his wealth to deceive banks, insurers, and others, potentially resulting in significant financial penalties.

In addition to addressing the trial schedule, Judge Merchan is expected to rule on crucial pretrial matters, including a plea by Trump’s lawyers to dismiss the case, denouncing it as a “discombobulated package of politically motivated charges.” Trump’s legal team accuses Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of pursuing the case to hinder Trump’s political prospects, a claim Bragg’s predecessor had declined.

The charges in focus involve payments to two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, and a Trump Tower doorman. Trump denies the alleged encounters. The case centers on payoffs orchestrated by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, and the subsequent falsification of records by the Trump Organization. Trump’s legal defense contends that no criminal activity occurred.