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Judge Merchan blows the prosecution with not allowing to bring a possibly key witness in the New York courtroom

Trump’s New York hush-money trial is in full swing as the court process is anticipated to continue this week. The former president and his legal team will start the week with two major wins in their hands after Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon indefinitely delayed the start of the Florida classified documents case trial, while the appeals court decided to review a previous court’s decision that allowed District Attorney Fani Willis to proceed with prosecuting the election interference case against former President Donald Trump. The trials in both cases are unlikely to start until before the November general presidential election.

Latest in the trial

The New York trial atmosphere is about to intensify this week as the main witness for the prosecution, former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, is expected to testify on Monday that Trump himself directed the hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Legal experts have expressed mixed reactions to the testimonies of several witnesses who have already taken the stand, questioning whether Trump’s payments aimed to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Trump attorney’s strategy backfires

Despite striking two wins in two of the other cases against him, the Trump legal team’s strategy in the hush-money trial backfired, as Judge Juan Merchan’s treatment of Trump had been noticeably different up until last week. The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman described the trial as a “circus,” adding that increasingly aggressive behavior by Trump’s attorneys and frequent clashes with the judge changed how Judge Merchan will continue to lead the court process in the coming period. Haberman also noted that Judge Merchan has been professional and neutral since the start of the trial, and Friday’s decision against the prosecution just proves those statements.

A blow for the prosecution

Judge Juan Merchan handed a victory to former President Donald Trump in his hush money payment trial on Friday. Merchan agreed with Trump’s lawyers on a key evidence issue. Newsweek reporter Katherine Fung, covering the trial from the courtroom, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “Merchan sides with the defense on the Larry King interview. The prosecution will not be allowed to introduce it.”

Judge Merchan agreed with Trump's lawyers on a key evidence issue: The prosecution will not be allowed to introduce Larry King as witness.
Judge Juan Merchan, Courtesy of @PoliticsOnX on X (former Twitter)

A possibly key witness labeled “not relevant”

Trump’s attorney Emil Bove argued that the 1999 interview with Larry King shouldn’t be admitted as evidence, saying it was irrelevant to Trump’s state of mind in 2016 and 2017. In the interview, Trump talked about his knowledge of campaign finance laws when King asked him about campaign finance reform. Merchan agreed, deciding that the interview shouldn’t be included as evidence because it was unlikely Trump would remember the laws after 17 years

“I think nobody knows more about campaign finance than I do because I am the biggest contributor,” he said.

Last week’s witnesses and process

Earlier on Friday, Judge Juan Merchan denied a subpoena from Trump’s legal team, which aimed to force evidence from Mark Pomerantz, a former prosecutor in Bragg’s office who resigned out of frustration with the investigation. The jury heard testimony from Stormy Daniels, who was questioned by both prosecutors and Trump’s defense lawyers. Madeline Westerhout, Trump’s former executive assistant in the White House, continued her testimony from Thursday.

Daniel Dixon, a records custodian for AT&T, Jen Tamalin, a records custodian for Verizon, and Georgia Longstreet, a paralegal from the DA’s office, also testified on Friday.

Judge Merchan agreed with Trump's lawyers on a key evidence issue: The prosecution will not be allowed to introduce Larry King as witness.
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, screenshot Youtube (NBC News)

Upcoming this week

The American public has been focusing on the New York trial for weeks now, and experts anticipate it to last six weeks. Given the latest developments in other legal cases, Trump could return to the campaign trial uninterrupted after the trial ends. This week’s focus will be on the star witness, Michael Cohen, who is expected to get on the stand as early as Monday. Trump’s defense has sought to shift the blame away from Trump, saying that any criminal activity was Cohen’s fault instead.

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