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Quick Decision From Judge Merchan at Trump Hearing, NYC Trial to Begin March 25th.

SAMUEL ELI SHEPHERD, HOST: Former President Donald Trump was in court today. And he will be back … sooner than he wants. His trial date is set for March 25th. As we know, Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records. He’s been accused of funneling ‘hush money’ to Stormy Daniels’ to silence her allegations of sexual misconduct during his 2016 presidential campaign. Uptown Radio’s Desiree Nikfardjam was there. Hi Desiree!


SHEPARD: Trump’s counsel has been trying to push back this trial date. There are concerns it could interfere with Trump’s chances in the upcoming election. And if he were to be elected there are even questions about whether a guilty decision could prevent him from governing. Now the date is set for next month! So what was the reaction from Trump and his counsel? 

NIKFARDJAM: Well throughout the hearing, Trump remained quiet, which has not always been the case for him in past courtrooms. One of his attorneys, Todd Blanche, however, seems flustered exhausting all attempts to change the Judge’s decision. Blanche said that Trump’s counsel requested to meet with the judge prior to this hearing to discuss why March 25tth would not be an ideal date. 

But Judge Merchan said those concerns had already been brought to his attention prior to today’s hearing and that he’d taken them into consideration. As part of his deliberations, he also spoke with Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing Trump’s D.C. case.

SHEPARD: It’s important to note that Trump is facing multiple indictment charges and that a packed schedule has been one of his legal team’s arguments for slowing this down.

NIKFARDJAM: Yes, that’s right he’s facing charges in D.C., Florida, and Georgia, along with the New York case. Blanche, who is on Trump’s counsel team for three of those cases, said today that it would be unfair to set the trial date for March 25 as their team would not have enough time to prepare for the trial. He also said the media saturation from these other cases would make it more difficult to find unbiased jurors here in New York. But, the Judge told Blanche that the former president would not appear in two criminal trials at the same time. So jury selection would not be an issue.

There was an interesting moment. The Judge appeared to try to find a compromise. He asked Blanche if postponing the trial by one month - to April - would make a difference. Blanche answered “perhaps,” but that wasn’t persuasive enough for the judge.

SHEPARD: So what’s next?

NIKFARDJAM: Well, towards the end of this morning’s hearing there was a lot of arguing back and forth about jury selection and how to choose jurors who would be unbiased. By this point in the proceedings it was clear Judge Merchan was ready to end the hearing. 

But the former president did not seem rattled. As he left the courtroom he winked at a nearby journalist. Once the trial starts, it’s expected to last six weeks. 

SHEPARD: Thank you, Desiree Nikfardjam.

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