Former President Donald Trump is set to face trial in New York City early next year for charges related to hush money payments made to former porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. The trial is expected to take place in close proximity to the state courthouse where Trump’s civil fraud case is currently ongoing. Trump’s lawyers on the hush money case, Susan Necheles and Todd Blanche, have been observed taking notes and conferring during the fraud case proceedings.
Trump is facing 34 charges of falsifying business records in connection with the payments totaling $280,000 made to Daniels and McDougal to allegedly cover up their alleged affairs with him. While the act of paying hush money itself is legal, Trump is being charged with how he reimbursed his former fixer, Michael Cohen, who made the payments on his behalf.
In a surprising move, Trump recently dropped his attempt to move the criminal case to federal court. This decision means that the trial will be held in state court, potentially allowing for the possibility of televised proceedings. Media outlets have previously attempted to broadcast Trump’s arraignment in New York but were unsuccessful. However, the matter of broadcasting the trial remains an open question in the New York Supreme Court.
Throughout his ongoing fraud trial, Trump has engaged with reporters and cameras, making fiery speeches outside the courtroom and criticizing the judge, prosecutors, and court staff. The former president has sought to win his cases in the court of public opinion, portraying the charges against him as politically motivated.
In Trump’s civil fraud case, Judge Arthur Engoron is presiding over the bench trial without a jury. Trump has clashed with Engoron throughout the proceedings, accusing him of bias and prosecutorial misconduct. Trump’s rhetoric towards Engoron has extended to his social media platform, where he regularly criticizes the judge and his clerk.
The decision to drop the effort to move courts in the hush money case means that Judge Juan Merchan will oversee the trial. Trump has previously criticized Merchan as well. The next court appearance in the hush money case is scheduled for February 15, where Trump will seek to have the case dismissed without a trial.