Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case against former President Donald Trump has taken many turns recently.
Trump was arraigned on federal charges last week related to his handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. As such, Bragg’s case against Trump is now likely adjourned as the federal case takes precedence.
While it might be a moot point now that the case is likely “on pause” pending the outcome of the federal case, an ethics panel said that “neither the former president nor his lawyers have shown any evidence to support their claims that the judge in his hush-money criminal case has an anti-Trump bias.”
“In court papers made public Tuesday, the Manhattan district attorney’s office defended Judge Juan Manuel Merchan against Trump’s claims that he’s a ‘Trump-hating judge,’ amplifying a court ethics panel’s recent opinion that a judge in his situation wouldn’t have to recuse himself,” Fox 5 New York reported.
“The opinion, issued May 4 by the state’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics, suggests Merchan may have sought the panel’s input as he wrestled with the gravity of his role in the case and nagging concerns that he could be seen as having a bias or conflict of interest. The opinion doesn’t list names, but the details match, with ‘the inquiring judge’ described as presiding in a criminal case involving ‘a former public official,’” the outlet added.
Bragg is facing some legal trouble himself and is facing a pair of lawsuits related to his filing of charges against Trump, accusing him of illegalities involving a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election facilitated by his then-personal attorney Michael Cohen.
Fox News notes: “The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based conservative think tank, has sued Bragg under suspicions that he and his office coordinated or communicated with the Justice Department, the White House, and Rep. Daniel Goldman, D-N.Y., about the prosecution. In its lawsuit, Heritage claims that such actions eventually led to investigations by several U.S. House committees into Bragg’s conduct.”
There has also been a big update in the federal case brought against Trump by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by Biden’s Department of Justice.
A federal judge in Florida has announced a preliminary start date of Aug. 14 for the trial of former President Donald Trump in the case involving his handling of classified documents.
“U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon bookmarked the last two weeks in August for the historic trial, part of an omnibus order setting some early ground rules and deadlines for the case. That would represent a startlingly rapid pace for a case that is expected to be complicated and require lengthy pretrial wrangling over extraordinarily sensitive classified secrets,” Politico reported.
During his arraignment in Miami last week, Trump pleaded “not guilty” through his attorneys in federal court.
The federal judge granted Trump a pretrial release with no special conditions except no contact with witnesses. Smith has charged Trump with 37 counts related to his handling of classified documents. If he is found guilty on all counts, Trump — who is President Joe Biden’s chief rival in next year’s presidential election — could face decades in prison.
Judge Goodman, who oversaw Trump’s arraignment, did not allow cameras, phones, or electronic devices in the Miami courtroom — but reporters relayed what they noticed while inside.
“However, there was no apparent eye contact between Trump and Smith during the day’s proceedings. Trump sat with his arms folded most of the time, talking with his lawyers occasionally. But Trump did not speak and Magistrate Judge Goodman never addressed him directly,” Fox News reported.
“Judge Goodman asked both sides if they agreed to waive the reading of the indictment, to which they agreed, so the matter got to Trump’s arraignment fairly quickly. Most of the arguments from both sides were about Trump’s contact with potential witnesses, and the defense pointed out that they don’t even have a full list of witnesses yet,” the outlet added.