“Embarrassing himself”: Experts say Trump delay rejection shows "courts are fed up" with his tactics

"The judges didn’t even have time to stop laughing,” quipped conservative attorney George Conway

By Charles R. Davis

Deputy News Editor

Published April 9, 2024 9:41AM (EDT)

Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at a pre-trial hearing in a hush money case at Manhattan Criminal Court on February 15, 2024 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at a pre-trial hearing in a hush money case at Manhattan Criminal Court on February 15, 2024 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump will have to stand trial next week on charges of fraud related to hush payments his personal attorney made ahead of the 2016 election, a New York appeals court ruled late Monday, dismissing the Republican candidate’s latest attempt to stall justice.

“Defendant’s application for a stay of trial… is denied,” Judge Lizbeth González of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division wrote in an April 8 order. Trump had been seeking to delay his Manhattan trial, set to begin April 15, asking the appellate court to push back the start while he fights to change the venue. Trump’s attorneys have argued that New Yorkers, including Manhattan Judge Juan Merchan, are too biased against the former president to give him a fair trial.

In court, prosecutors pushed back against that claim, describing it as another delay tactic and an insult to the justice system, Politico reported.

“The question in this case is not whether a random poll of New Yorkers from whatever neighborhood are able to be impartial, it’s about whether a trial court is able to select a jury of 12 impartial jurors,” Steven Wu, a lawyer with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, said Monday. The defendant has himself tried to taint the jury pool with “countless media appearances talking about the facts of this case, the witnesses, and so on,” he said.

Monday’s ruling means that jury selection will indeed begin on April 15, with Trump facing some 34 charges of falsifying business records to cover up payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who has alleged that she had an affair with the Republican. Trump has denied the allegations against him.

CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen commented that Trump’s latest effort to delay the trial was, by his count, the former president’s “ninth delay tactic.” Trump also on Monday sued the judge in the Manhattan case as part of a separate legal effort to move the case out of Manhattan and lift the gag order imposed on him after he publicly attacked the judge and his family.

Eisen said Trump’s argument – that the case should be postponed and moved because of New Yorkers’ alleged bias – was never going to work since courts already address potential bias by quizzing prospective jurors during the jury selection process. “It was a dead loser from the get-go,” Eisen said.

We need your help to stay independent

Former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman noted on X, the website formerly known as Twitter, that the appeals court judge did not even refer the question to a full panel for review, instead rejecting the Trump legal team’s arguments in a “one sentence unsigned order.” Trump, Litman said, “is flailing and embarrassing himself within the legal system.”

George Conway, the conservative lawyer turned anti-Trump commentator, also took note of the court’s quick and curt reply. “The Appellate Division issued this order so quickly the judges didn’t even have time to stop laughing,” he wrote on X.

The rejection of Trump’s latest stalling tactic comes just two weeks before the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether the former president enjoys absolute immunity from criminal prosecution.

Andrew Weissmann, a former Justice Department lawyer who worked with former special counsel Robert Mueller, urged the nation’s highest court to follow the lead of the state-level judges. New York "courts are fed up” with Trump’s delaying tactics, he posted on X. “The U.S. Supreme Court [should] take note,” he said, “and see how it’s done to vindicate our right to a public trial.”

By Charles R. Davis

Charles R. Davis is Salon's deputy news editor. His work has aired on public radio and been published by outlets such as The Guardian, The Daily Beast, The New Republic and Columbia Journalism Review.

MORE FROM Charles R. Davis

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Alvin Bragg Donald Trump Juan Merchan Politics