Public access radio that connects community members to one another and the world
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
The next KDNK board of directors meeting is Monday, April 22nd at 5:30 PM. Click here for more details and an agenda.

Judge orders Trump to appear in court for charges related to affair hush money

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

A criminal trial against former President Donald Trump is officially set to begin on March 25 in New York. That's after the judge in the case rejected Trump's bid to dismiss the charges. He's been charged with criminal falsification of business records in connection with trying to cover up an alleged extramarital affair in the 2016 campaign. Joining us on this breaking news this morning is NPR's Ximena Bustillo from New York. So what happened in court today?

XIMENA BUSTILLO, BYLINE: Well, off the bat, the judge rejected Trump's attempt to dismiss the charges and announced that the jury selection would go forward on March 25, as previously thought. This is the first criminal case for Trump to go to trial. So far, he has been in other trials, but they have been civil lawsuits related to his businesses or defamation.

Trump's lawyers called the decision a grave injustice. And they have said that the charges are old, the records were personal, not business, and that it's unfair to make a presidential candidate stand trial as a campaign heats up. But the district attorney has pointed out, rightly, that one of the reasons this case is so old is that Trump went to the U.S. Supreme Court twice to prevent the DA from even seeing his tax records. Trump lost both times, and the DA also says that they have, quote, "additional evidence" after Trump was indicted from a campaign insider they say speaks to Trump's criminal intent.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. Now, Donald Trump has more than one court case he's involved in. Ximena, refresh our memory on this particular one.

BUSTILLO: So last April, the former president was charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in New York. The criminal charges were a historic first to come down on the - on a former president. This stems from an investigation into 11 payments that were made to former Trump Organization vice president and counsel Michael Cohen that were described by the Trump Organization falsely as, quote, "legal retainers." But what they actually were were reimbursements to Cohen for paying off a former adult film actor who was threatening to go public with charges that she had an affair with Trump not long after he married Melania Trump.

Trump last year pleaded not guilty and has long said that these charges and accusations are nonsense. Although Trump has pleaded not guilty, the fact of the payments and the false records isn't in dispute. What the DA has to prove is that Trump made them in order to further other crimes, such as violating campaign finance law and mischaracterizing the payments for tax purposes.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, the various trial dates have been up in the air, so what are the implications of this one now being set?

BUSTILLO: The trial is expected to last several weeks, so Trump may not be able to be on the campaign trail as often as he would like as the general election kicks into full steam. He is facing a combination of 91 state and federal charges, including several related to his role to stay in office after he lost the 2020 election to Biden. We're also waiting on another verdict any day now where we should be getting final decisions from another New York judge in a New York civil fraud case brought forth by the state attorney general, who is seeking $370 million in penalty, to block Trump from doing business in New York state, where he has built his business empire.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. That's NPR's Ximena Bustillo from New York. Thanks for the update.

BUSTILLO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.