Trump Can’t Claim Statements About Stormy Daniels Were ‘Official Acts’


A Manhattan judge on Wednesday rejected a “presidential immunity” bid by Donald Trump, saying the effort was too little and too late.

Trump had sought to delay his hush money trial and to keep jurors from seeing statements he made while president about the apparent $130,000 payment that silenced porn actor Stormy Daniels just 11 days before the 2016 election.

The GOP frontrunner had hoped to delay the hush money trial start date until after the US Supreme Court decides on whether presidential immunity protects him in his federal election interference case; oral arguments in that case are set for April 25.

But Trump failed to explain why he waited until early last month to raise presidential immunity in a pre-trial motion in his hush money case, according to Wednesday’s ruling by state Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.

State law generally requires such motions be filed within 45 days after arraignment, Merchan noted, calling Trump’s excuses for the late motion “inadequate and not convincing.”

Trump had blamed the timing of his motion on prosecutors, and on the US Supreme Court’s February 28 decision to hear his federal presidential immunity claims.

Even so, Trump has been on notice for months that the hush-money case prosecutors intended to use statements he made while president, Merchan wrote.

“The Defendant had ample notice that the People were in possession of, and intended to use, the various statements allegedly made by Defendant on social media, in public, and in various interviews,” Merchan wrote.

“He was also well aware that the defense of presidential immunity, even if unsuccessful, might be available to him,” the judge wrote.

“This Court finds that Defendant had myriad opportunities to raise the claim of presidential immunity well before March 7, 2024,” when Trump’s lawyers raised the matter, the judge wrote.

“Defendant’s motion is DENIED in its entirety as untimely,” the judge’s ruling concluded.

“The Court declines to consider whether the doctrine of presidential immunity precludes the introduction of evidence of purported official presidential acts in a criminal proceeding,” the ruling said.

Trump had specifically sought to preclude jurors from hearing about what prosecutors are calling his “pressure campaign” to keep his personal attorney at the time, Michael Cohen, from cooperating with a federal probe of the payments.


A tweet Donald Trump hopes to exclude from his hush money trial on grounds of "presidential immunity."

A tweet Donald Trump had hoped to exclude from his hush money trial on grounds of “presidential immunity.”

Business Insider




A tweet Donald Trump hopes to exclude from his hush money trial on grounds of "presidential immunity."

Tweets Donald Trump hoped to exclude from his hush money trial on grounds of “presidential immunity.”

Business Insider



The defense had also claimed Trump was acting in his role as president on April 5, 2018, when he denied knowing about the hush-money payment while speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One.

“Then why did Michael Cohen make those if there was no truth to her allegations?” a reporter asked.

“Well, you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney,” Trump said.

When asked if he knew where Michael Cohen got the money to make that payment, Trump responded, “No, I don’t know.”

Trump was acting “in his official capacity as the nation’s chief executive,” when he made the statements, Trump attorneys Susan Necheles and Todd Blanche had argued.

“Therefore, President Trump respectfully submits that an adjournment of the trial is appropriate to await further guidance from the Supreme Court, which should facilitate the appropriate application of the presidential immunity doctrine in this case to the evidence the People intend to offer at trial,” their filing said.

The hush money trial remains on track for jury selection on April 15.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleges that Trump falsified 34 business documents in order to disguise the payment to Daniels as legal expenses. The falsifications violated campaign finance regulations and tax laws, Bragg has alleged.

Trump has pleaded not guilty and says the allegations are part of a politically-motivated “witch hunt.” He has also denied that he had a sexual relationship with Daniels.

He faces anywhere from no jail to four years in prison if convicted, though legal experts have called imprisonment unlikely.

Trump has one last hush-money delay card up his sleeve. Merchan has yet to rule on defense arguments that Trump cannot get a fair trial in Manhattan anytime in April due to “prejudicial pre-trial publicity.



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