Lessons learned from Donald Trump’s eventful day in the courts

On Monday, the courts gave Donald Trump a lifeline and set a trial date for the first-ever criminal trial of a former president in US history. These two decisions underscored the ongoing legal upheaval that surrounds him. The two decisions on Monday, which were issued about an hour apart, addressed issues with Trump’s reputation and his renowned business empire in the context of his bid for a second term in office. Judge Juan Merchan said on Monday that jury selection for President Trump’s historic criminal trial in the New York hush money case will take place on April 15. Originally scheduled to commence on April 15, the start date was pushed back due to a disagreement over the late provision of documents.

A New York appeals court’s decision on Monday to permit Trump to post a smaller $175 million bond while he challenges the $464 million civil fraud judgment against him, his adult sons, and his business, may have been the most consequential decision for the billionaire. Trump assured reporters that he would use cash as security to cover the bond. What can be learned from yet another momentous day for President Trump? For at least one of his trials prior to the November election, the former president will be tried by a jury on criminal charges, barring another unanticipated incident—which is never something to rule out when Trump is involved. The purpose of the hearing on Monday was to discuss Trump’s request to have the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office sanctioned and the charges dismissed.

Earlier this month, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York turned over tens of thousands of documents pertaining to the federal prosecution of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and fixer, in 2018. Merchan rejected the charges made by Trump’s attorneys before midday, ruling that there were no infractions and that jury selection would start the trial on April 15. Alvin Bragg, the district attorney for Manhattan, has charged Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records. The allegations stem from Cohen’s reimbursement of Trump for hush money payments he made to adult film star Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 election in order to prevent her from disclosing an alleged affair with him. The former president has denied the affair and entered a not guilty plea. Although the date is three weeks later than planned, it won’t have much of an impact on Trump’s 2024 timetable, and it’s still unclear if any of his other three trials will take place before the election.

Trump was unable to post a $464 million bond to appeal the civil fraud judgment against him, according to his attorneys last week. Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, gave Trump until Monday to post bond or she would start the process of taking his properties. However, the appeals court decision granted Trump an extra 10 days to deposit a $175 million bond—a sum the outgoing president claimed he could manage. This month, Trump has already posted a $91 million bond while he files an appeal against the defamation ruling in the case of E. Jean Carroll. The decision is a significant win for Trump since it eliminates the chance that James may try to take the former president’s assets in order to carry out the judgment against him. The enforcement of the civil fraud judgment against the former president, his sons, and their corporation is halted until at least September once Trump pays the $175 million bond.

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