Legal Blow for Trump as Court Rejects Venue Change in "Hidden Funds" Trial

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.09 - 2024 8:07 AM CET

Photo: Evan El-Amin /
Photo: Evan El-Amin /
An appeals court in New York has ruled against moving Donald Trump's upcoming trial from Manhattan to Staten Island, amid concerns over venue bias and political persecution claims.

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On Monday, an appeals court in New York firmly dismissed a plea by Donald Trump's legal team to postpone and change the venue of the upcoming trial in the "hidden funds" case.

The former U.S. president's lawyers had argued that Manhattan, known for its Democratic leanings, was an unsuitable location for the trial due to potential bias. They proposed relocating the proceedings to Staten Island, the only New York district where Trump secured victories in both the 2020 and 2016 elections, according to The Hill.

The request was made during an extraordinary session on April 8, where Trump's legal team voiced concerns over the fairness of conducting the trial in Manhattan. However, Judge Lisbeth Gonzalez, overseeing the case, denied the motion, leaving the trial to proceed in its original venue.

This trial marks a historic moment as it is expected to be the first criminal trial against a former U.S. president.

The case, which has garnered widespread attention, involves allegations related to payments made to porn actress Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Prosecutors argue that the payment, reportedly $130,000, was part of a non-disclosure agreement intended to influence the election outcome, a violation of New York state law punishable by up to four years in prison.

Legal Hurdles and Political Allegations

In addition to challenging the trial's venue, Trump's legal team has sought to contest a gag order preventing the former president from speaking about the prosecutors' witnesses and the family of Judge Merchan. They have also called for Judge Merchan's recusal, alleging a conflict of interest due to his daughter's employment at a consulting firm that worked for Joe Biden's 2020 campaign.

The trial was initially slated to begin on March 25 but was postponed following a request from Trump's lawyers for additional time to review case materials.

Despite these legal maneuvers, Trump has consistently maintained his innocence, framing the charges against him as part of a political persecution led by President Joe Biden's administration.

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