Trump claims he will testify in hush money trial as judge shoots down another attempt to delay

Donald Trump has volunteered to testify at his upcoming criminal trial in Manhattan on charges connected to a hush money scheme to bury politically compromising stories of his alleged affairs.

During an unrelated press conference at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Friday, standing alongside Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, the former president was asked whether he plans to testify in the case, with jury selection set to begin on Monday 15 April.

“Yeah, I would testify, absolutely,” he told reporters. “That’s not a trial. That’s a scam.”

As the event in Florida was underway, New York Justice Juan Merchan – a frequent target of Mr Trump’s public attacks, and smeared as a Democratic operative leading a politically motivated prosecution against him – denied Mr Trump’s latest attempt to adjourn the proceedings, after the former president’s attorneys argued that the trial’s “publicity” has deprived him of a fair trial.

The solution, Judge Merchan wrote, is a “thorough, thoughtful and effective voir dire” process during jury selection.

Mr Trump, who casts himself as a victim of a Democratic-led conspiracy theory against him, told reporters on Friday that the jury selection process that begins on Monday “is largely luck.”

“It depends on who you get,” he said.

Donald Trump speaks to reporters at Mar-a-Lago on 12 April. (Getty Images)
Donald Trump speaks to reporters at Mar-a-Lago on 12 April. (Getty Images)

Three state appeals court judges and the judge overseeing the case against Mr Trump all rejected Mr Trump’s appeals to delay the case for four consecutive days this week.

On Tuesday, an appellate court judge rejected the first of four 11th-hour requests to delay the case while Mr Trump tries to move the trial out of Manhattan. A judge also rejected his request to delay the case while he challenges a gag order that prohibits parties from publicly attacking court staff and their families.

The following day, Mr Trump’s attorneys failed to convince an appellate court that Judge Merchan caused the former president “ongoing, unconstitutional and irreparable harm” and has denied Mr Trump’s chances at a fair trial.

His attorneys also failed to stall the trial while Mr Trump appeals the judge’s rejection of a “presidential immunity” defence that Mr Trump has raised to shield certain evidence against him.

Judge Merchan has a “tremendous conflict” at a “level that nobody has seen before,” Mr Trump told reporters on Friday.

“They don’t give us anything. It’s a witch hunt that is taking place in New York,” he said.

New York Justice Juan Merchan (AP)
New York Justice Juan Merchan (AP)

A grand jury indictment charges the former president with 34 counts of falsifying business records as part of an alleged scheme to buy up the rights to stories that would be politically damaging during his 2016 presidential campaign.

The case from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleges that Mr Trump falsified reimbursements to his then-attorney Michael Cohen as “legal expenses” when he was in fact paying adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an alleged affair, fearing the public’s attention could damage his election prospects.

He has pleaded not guilty.

If he does testify in the case, Mr Trump would join what is expected to be a lineup of other high-profile witnesses that includes former White House aides as well as Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels.