Trump Wants Appeals Court to ‘Take Over’ New York Case

The former president was critical of the process in social media posts on Wednesday.
Trump Wants Appeals Court to ‘Take Over’ New York Case
Former President Donald Trump (L) and former First Lady Melania Trump (R) arrive to vote in Florida's primary election at a polling station in Palm Beach, Fla., on March 19, 2024. (Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday morning called for the appeals court to “take over” the New York trial in which he’s accused of falsifying business records.

This week, the first witness in the so-called “hush-money” trial, former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, gave testimony in the case. The former president is accused of falsifying business records to suppress negative allegations during the 2016 campaign, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

“We have a Rigged Judge, who is working for the Democrat Party and refuses to terminate this ‘case,’ which should have never been brought by Soft on Crime Alvin Bragg,” President Trump wrote early on Wednesday morning via Truth Social in one of many calls for Justice Juan Merchan to step down. “Judge Merchan should immediately [be] removed, and the Appellate Courts have to take over.”
The former president also touched on the allegations in another social media post made on Tuesday night. “They’re after me because a bookkeeper marked down ‘Legal Expense’ in a Ledger when describing Legal Fees paid to a lawyer. What else would you call it? The Biden Thugs call it Falsifying Business Records,” he wrote.

For more than a week, President Trump has to be in court while the trial is ongoing, but there are no trial dates scheduled on Wednesdays. Last week, Justice Merchan warned the former president that if he doesn’t show up, he could be arrested despite the ongoing 2024 presidential campaign.

Meanwhile, the judge has imposed a gag order meant to prohibit President Trump from criticizing witnesses and certain court officials.

During a hearing on Tuesday, the judge appeared skeptical of some arguments made by the former president’s attorneys regarding his social media posts after a gag order was issued several weeks ago, especially as prosecutors have sought to fine him multiple times.

On Tuesday, Justice Merchan told defense lawyer Todd Blanche that he had no evidence or case law to back up claims that the former president is defending himself from attacks in the media. Two potential witnesses in the case, former lawyer Michael Cohen and adult performer Stormy Daniels, have been critical of President Trump.

Mr. Blanche said the former president’s social media posts were responses to political attacks by Mr. Cohen and not related to his former lawyer’s expected testimony. “He’s allowed to respond to political attacks,” the attorney said.

Justice Merchan said on Tuesday that he would not render an immediate decision on whether to fine the former president.

President Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records for labeling $420,000 in payments to Mr. Cohen as legal fees. Mr. Cohen has criticized the former president repeatedly in the media and on his social media accounts while the trial is ongoing.

Prosecutors alleged he was reimbursing Mr. Cohen for paying $130,000 to allegedly buy the silence of Ms. Daniels regarding her allegations that she and President Trump were in an affair more than 15 years ago. President Trump denies her claims.

However, prosecutors are trying to convince the jury that the payments were a form of election interference in what appears to be an attempt to justify the felony charges.

In an opening statement on Monday, prosecutor Matthew Colangelo said Mr. Cohen’s payment to Ms. Daniels amounted to an illegal campaign expenditure used to hide important information from voters. “It was election fraud, pure and simple,” he claimed.

However, the former president’s attorneys said that Mr. Cohen, who has spent time in federal prison for a range of charges, can’t be trusted. They argued that his current career depends on targeting the former president.

“He has a goal, an obsession, with getting Trump,” Mr. Blanche said. “I submit to you that he cannot be trusted.”

On Monday, President Trump called on his supporters to turn out for peaceful demonstrations at courthouses across the country, but few were on hand when he arrived at the courthouse in Manhattan, an overwhelmingly Democrat area.  “We have more police presence than anyone’s ever seen, for blocks you can’t get near this courthouse,” President Trump said outside the courtroom on Tuesday.

Police have erected barricades around the courthouse, but nearby streets and plazas are open to the public, including the square where a man set himself on fire last Friday.

On Monday evening, President Trump said in an interview with Real America’s Voice that the jury “was picked so fast” last week, noting that the area was mostly Democrat. Election data shows that voters in Manhattan overwhelming cast ballots for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, with only about 12 percent voting in favor of President Trump.

Several individuals who were excused from jury duty last week were critical of the former president when they were questioned in court. One excused juror, a woman who works in the cybersecurity sector, was also critical of President Trump’s response to COVID-19 when she was asked outside the courthouse.

The trial is scheduled to resume on Thursday.

Reuters contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: