Trump’s Attempt to Delay Hush-Money Trial Is Denied by Appeals Court Judge

A New York appeals court judge on Tuesday rejected Donald J. Trump’s latest attempt to delay his criminal case in Manhattan, another blow to the former president’s increasingly desperate attempts to prevent the trial from starting next week.

The appeals court judge, Cynthia S. Kern, denied Mr. Trump’s bid to pause the case while he pursues legal action against the judge presiding over the trial. Mr. Trump brought the action against the trial judge, Juan M. Merchan, in hopes that the appeals court would both delay the criminal case and throw out a gag order that Justice Merchan imposed on him.

At a brief hearing on Tuesday, the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which brought the charges against Mr. Trump accusing him of covering up a sex scandal, argued that the gag order should stand. The order prevents Mr. Trump from attacking witnesses, prosecutors and the judge’s family — as he so often does.

Mr. Trump’s invective “causes predictable terrifying consequences,” said Steven Wu, a lawyer for the district attorney’s office, adding that there was “no basis” to delay the trial while the court scrutinizes the gag order.

Although Justice Kern ruled against Mr. Trump, he can now have his request heard by a full panel of five appellate court judges. It would be nearly impossible for the court to act before the trial begins Monday, when Mr. Trump will become the first former U.S. president to face criminal prosecution.

The ruling from Justice Kern, coming a day after the appeals court rejected another effort by Mr. Trump to delay the trial and move it out of Manhattan, provides the clearest sign yet that the trial will begin as planned.

And Mr. Trump, who faces three other criminal indictments in three other cities, is running out of options. Over the past three weeks, Justice Merchan and the appeals court have repeatedly denied his bids to postpone the case.

The effort to stall until Election Day, when the cases could grind to a halt if Mr. Trump wins back the White House, has become his core legal strategy. He is deploying it not just in Manhattan, but in the three other criminal cases against him.

With those mired in delay and appeals, the Manhattan case might be only one to make it to trial before Election Day, a calendar crunch that underscores the significance of the appellate court decision on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, declined to comment on the appeals court ruling.

Mr. Bragg’s case stems from a hush-money payment to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, during the 2016 presidential campaign. The payment, made by Mr. Trump’s fixer at the time, Michael D. Cohen, silenced Ms. Daniels as she was looking to tell her story of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump.

When Mr. Trump later reimbursed Mr. Cohen, prosecutors say, he falsified business records to cover up the sex scandal.

Mr. Trump has relentlessly attacked Mr. Cohen and other people involved in the case, a pattern that led Justice Merchan to impose the gag order. Mr. Trump has also assailed Justice Merchan’s daughter over her position at a Democratic consulting firm that worked for the 2020 Biden campaign.

The judge amended the gag order to cover his and Mr. Bragg’s families.

At the hearing on Tuesday, one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued that the gag order was an unconstitutional infringement on political speech.

“The First Amendment harms arising from this gag order right now are irreparable,” said the defense lawyer, Emil Bove.

Even as judges continue to rebuff Mr. Trump’s delay strategy, he has at least one additional tactic in play. He has asked Justice Merchan — for a second time — to step away from the case, because of his daughter’s political work. The judge could rule on that matter as soon as Tuesday.

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