Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

There's a lot of action on the New York legal front for former President Trump

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Former President Trump is days away from a deadline, needs to pay close to half a billion dollars in a civil fraud case. And, of course, that's just one of his cases. In another case, the Manhattan district attorney filed papers saying he wants Trump's criminal hush money trial to start April 15, a bit later than once thought. NPR's Andrea Bernstein is covering this. Good morning.

ANDREA BERNSTEIN, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: OK, could've started in March. That was expected at some point. Why start the trial in April?

BERNSTEIN: Well, more information has come to light after six years of investigation. This case began in 2018, when Trump was president. This was right after former Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to campaign finance violations for making an illegal contribution not long before the 2016 Election Day - that is, paying actor Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Donald Trump.

So after all this time, it was kind of a jolt when last week, practically on the eve of trial, DA Alvin Bragg said, wait a minute; we just got hundreds of thousands of pages of documents from federal prosecutors about that Cohen guilty plea, and we need a brief delay to sort this out. And people watching the case closely, including me, were like, what? How could that happen? Yesterday we began to get some answers.

INSKEEP: And what did you learn?

BERNSTEIN: In court filings, the DA, Alvin Bragg, said they'd asked federal prosecutors for relevant documents some time ago, but it wasn't until Trump subpoenaed the federal prosecutors in January of this year that those prosecutors began to turn over documents. One letter released yesterday showed the federal prosecutor saying because of the extraordinary circumstances, they were turning over more documents than they otherwise would have. And all that took a couple of months, with the effect of it looking like there was this huge dump of relevant materials. But Bragg said, no, actually, there's not much new here, and what there is mostly helps us.

Trump's team, which says he is not guilty, is still accusing the DA of deliberately withholding documents, and they want the case dismissed or postponed basically until the Republican convention this summer.

INSKEEP: OK, obviously Bragg wants it sooner. When do we learn when it actually starts?

BERNSTEIN: Monday, probably. That was the date trial was supposed to start, but now there will be a hearing. But if what Bragg says holds up, the case maybe - maybe - will go forward on the date it's now set for, April 15. The judge has indicated in previous filings and appearances that he is unhappy with the idea of delay.

INSKEEP: OK, I'm feeling like on Monday, when you say we'll find out the actual trial date, that's not even going to be the biggest Trump court news because there's this other deadline on Monday. He has to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars to cover a fraud judgment from the New York attorney general. Where is that going?

BERNSTEIN: Well, it's still a mystery how Trump will pay. We learned yesterday that the New York attorney general, Letitia James, had entered the judgment in suburban Westchester County, north of New York City, earlier this month. Trump owns a lot of property there. I spoke to the Westchester clerk's office, and they told me that means if anyone tries to buy one of his properties and they enter the property record, it will show a lien. But that happened before Trump said he couldn't come up with the bond. Some lawyers tell me it's possible Trump could get the amount he has to pay cut by the appeals court. But if we don't hear from that court soon, the AG could move to seize his properties, which she has said she will do if he doesn't pay up.

INSKEEP: NPR's Andrea Bernstein, thanks so much.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANOMALIE'S "NOTRE-DAME EST") 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.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Andrea Bernstein