The trial against Trump for alleged bribes to the porn actress Stormy Daniels will begin on March 25th

AP

The trial of Donald Trump on charges of bribery to conceal news will begin on March 25, as scheduled, with jury selection, ruled the judge on Thursday, rejecting the request from the former president's lawyers to postpone the case.

By keeping the trial date intact, Judge Juan Manuel Merchan took advantage of a delay in a different case in Washington, where Trump is accused of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 elections. That case is on hold pending Trump's appeal.

The New York case focuses on allegations that Trump tried to suppress news about his extramarital relationships that emerged during his 2016 presidential campaign.

The process revolves around the alleged payment of $130,000 to the porn actress Stormy Daniels, supposedly in exchange for her silence about a sexual relationship during the election campaign that eventually led him to the White House in 2017.

It is the first of the four criminal cases against Trump that will go to trial. In the others, he is accused of attempting to overturn election results and unlawfully retaining classified documents on his Florida estate.

Trump's lawyers strongly criticized the decision to maintain the March date, noting that he will have to go to trial in New York at the same time as he tries to secure his Republican presidential candidacy.

"It's totally election interference to say, 'You will be sitting in this Manhattan courtroom,'" said his defense lawyer Todd Blanche. Trump entered the courtroom just before 9 a.m.

It was his first return to court in the New York case since the historic indictment that made Trump the first former president to face criminal charges. Since then, he has also been charged in Florida, Georgia, and Washington D.C. In recent weeks, he has alternated campaign events and court appearances: on Monday, he attended a closed-door hearing in Florida in the case of retaining classified documents.
Throughout the past year, he has called Merchan a "judge who hates him," asked him to drop the case, and tried to move it from state court to federal court, all in vain. Merchan has acknowledged making small donations to Democrats, including $15 to Trump's rival, Joe Biden, but has insisted that he is "capable of being fair and impartial."

Thursday's hearing is part of a busy period of judicial activity for the frontrunner in the Republican nomination race, who has made his trials part of his political campaign.

The recent postponement of the scheduled trial on March 4 in Washington for election interference removed a major obstacle to starting the New York trial on the planned date.