Trove of New Docs Throws Wrench Into Trump’s New York Trial

Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Donald Trump’s upcoming Stormy Daniels trial could be delayed by a month after federal investigators turned up 100,000 new documents relevant to the case.

“The people do not oppose a brief adjournment of up to 30 days to permit sufficient time for the defendant to review the [U.S. Attorney’s Office] productions,” Manhattan prosecutors wrote to the judge in a court filing on Thursday.

The last-minute surprise throws a wrench into the prosecution's plans to put Trump on trial for much of April and May, with the trial supposed to start on March 25. But the new batch of documents has thrown that timeline into doubt—and may spark new grounds for Trump’s lawyers to protest.

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Almost immediately, Trump’s lawyers accused prosecutors of holding back the evidence, while the Manhattan District Attorney quickly accused Trump's lawyers of playing their usual delay games.

On Thursday, a March 8 court filing was made public reflecting how the former president’s lawyers formally asked the judge overseeing the case to sanction prosecutors for violating the law—for allegedly hiding material that could weaken their case.

Trump defense lawyer Todd Blanche cited what he called the Manhattan DA’s “attempts to suppress voluminous exculpatory evidence” that's been held for years by the feds—and have only surfaced since last week.

Blanche also claimed that prosecutors are “insisting on improper redactions of… internal communications involving current and former prosecutors associated with this case.”

The new evidence “undercuts the people’s theory of the case,” Blanche wrote, referring to the DA’s office.

Blanche also cited newly available information that he said would seriously question the character of the porn star at the center of the scandal, Stormy Daniels, who was born Stephanie Clifford. He said the new information “bears on Clifford’s bias and motive to monetize her status as a witness in this case, and it is extremely problematic with respect to prejudicial pretrial publicity.”

Part of the chaos stems from the fact that the investigation has a messy origin story. Back in 2017, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York investigated the way Trump secretly funneled a $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. But with Trump still in office at the time, prosecutors only pursued criminal charges against the lawyer who coordinated the deal, Michael Cohen.

The Manhattan DA picked up where the feds left off, indicting Trump on 34 felony counts last year for faking business records to hide the deal. As part of that investigation, county prosecutors requested whatever relevant records the feds could share about their probe.

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In the court filing on Thursday, the DA’s office revealed that SDNY turned over a whopping 73,000 pages of records since just March 4—and an additional 31,000 pages on Wednesday alone. The office notified the court that it expects the feds to turn over a third batch next week.

It’s a stark development, given that lawyers usually receive evidence well ahead of a criminal trial—and this one of historic proportions is supposed to be just days away.

By the DA’s own description, the bulk of the material appears to be documents and testimony that prosecutors at the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office presented to the federal grand jury that examined the case—an investigation that included testimony from Trump’s right-hand money man, former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg.

The DA’s court filing attempted to lay the blame on Trump’s defense lawyers, saying that prosecutors “diligently sought the full grand jury record related to Cohen’s campaign finance convictions from the USAO last year” and received “a subset of the materials.” That evidence was turned over to Trump’s team in June 2023.

But Trump’s lawyers “waited until” January 18 to independently seek the records from the feds and “consented to repeated extensions” every time the feds asked for a little extra time.

“The timing of the USAO’s productions is a result solely of defendant’s delay despite the people’s diligence,” prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors stressed that they are “nonetheless… prepared to proceed to trial on March 25,” but alerted the judge that they “do not oppose an adjournment in an abundance of caution and to ensure that defendant has sufficient time to review the new materials.”

Justice Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the trial, is expected to demand some answers about this unanticipated derailment of a case he has kept chugging along at a rapid pace.

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