NY judge sets March trial date for Trump criminal trial amid presidential primaries

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A New York judge told Donald Trump on Tuesday to cancel other obligations in March 2024 – during the heat of the presidential primaries – for his trial on charges he falsified business records to make hush money payments to women who claimed to have had sex with him.

Acting state Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan also reviewed his order barring Trump from publicizing some evidence in the case. Trump is allowed to speak about the case, but he risks being held in contempt if he uses the evidence shared by the prosecution before the trial to target witnesses or others involved.

Trump, who has pleaded not guilty, appeared by video conference. At one point, he threw up his hands in frustration. After conferring with a lawyer, he sat with his arms folded for the remainder of the hearing.

The hearing came after Merchan restricted Trump's posts on social media about the case because of a request from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who had argued his precautions were based on Trump attacking witnesses, jurors and those investigating him in the past, including special counsel Robert Mueller and two House impeachments.

Trump “has a longstanding and perhaps singular history of attacking witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, trial jurors, grand jurors, judges and others involved in legal proceedings against him, putting those individuals and their families at considerable safety risk,” Catherine McGraw, assistant district attorney, said in a written filing.

More: How many legal cases does Donald Trump face? 2 DOJ investigations, a Georgia grand jury, NY charges and a lawsuit

The hearing came a day after E. Jean Carroll asked a court to impose “very substantial” new damages against Trump for continuing his verbal attacks on her after a jury found him liable for $5 million for sexual abuse and defamation.

"Trump’s defamatory statements post-verdict show the depth of his malice toward Carroll," said the filing by her lawyers.

Trump repeated his claims Tuesday that he “wouldn’t want to know or touch her,” he denied abusing her and he called the alleged incident a “total scam” after an “unfair trial.”

Here’s what we know about the case:

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks during a press conference following the arraignment of former U.S. President Donald Trump April 4, 2023 in New York City.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks during a press conference following the arraignment of former U.S. President Donald Trump April 4, 2023 in New York City.

Concerns about Trump's social media posts were raised in other cases

Similar concerns have been raised in other cases.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled April 10 that jurors would remain anonymous during Carroll’s civil lawsuit against Trump in part because of his social media posts.

Kaplan noted Trump had made “critical statements on social media” about a grand jury foreperson in Georgia and the jury foreperson in Roger Stone’s criminal case, along with “violent rhetoric” and many statements about judges and other public officials.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2023, Saturday, March 4, 2023, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. This week, jurors in a New York civil case said they believed that Trump sexually assaulted writer E. Jean Carroll in a dressing room in the 1990s, making him the first U.S. president found liable by a jury in a sexual battery case. The panel awarded her $5 million in damages.

What are the criminal charges?

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide payments to silence two women who claimed to have had sex with him before the 2016 election.

He has pleaded not guilty and called the prosecution politically motivated.

The trial is scheduled for early 2024.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NY judge sets Donald Trump's trial for March in hush-money case