Manhattan DA Says Trump Seeks Special Treatment

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s bid to dismiss Manhattan criminal charges over hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels boils down to an argument that the former president deserves special treatment, prosecutors told a judge.

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“This argument is essentially an attempt to evade criminal responsibility because defendant is politically powerful,” prosecutors in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said Thursday in a court filing. “Courts have repeatedly rejected defendant’s demands for special treatment and instead have adhered to the core principle that the rule of law applies equally to the powerful as to the powerless.”

The New York trial is scheduled to begin March 25. A lawyer for Trump didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment.

The case, the first criminal indictment against a former president, was unsealed April 4. It’s separate from the civil fraud trial underway in Manhattan, in which the New York attorney general claims Trump inflated his assets by billions of dollars to get better terms from banks.

Bragg has accused Trump of falsifying business records to conceal a $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels. Bragg says the payment was made just ahead of the 2016 election to bury Daniels’s claim that she’d had sex with Trump, which he denies.

Trump, who has pleaded not guilty, said last month the 34-count felony indictment should be tossed, arguing that Bragg had targeted him for “selective prosecution,” which was interfering with his campaign. He said the charges were politically motivated and argued that Bragg waited too long to bring the case.

Bragg on Thursday said there was “no basis” for Trump’s argument that the prosecution has “prejudiced” him because it interferes with his presidential campaign and said there’s sufficient evidence to support charges. Bragg alleges that Trump directed his then-lawyer Michael Cohen to pay Daniels and that Trump later repaid Cohen and falsified business records by labeling the repayments to Cohen as legal expenses.

Trump has since been indicted twice by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is accusing him of mishandling classified White House documents and with trying to overturn the 2020 election after he lost to President Joe Biden. Trump has also been charged by Georgia prosecutors who are accusing him of violating the state’s racketeering law by leading a sprawling conspiracy to overturn the election result.

--With assistance from Erik Larson.

(Updates with NY AG case in fourth paragraph. A previous version of the story corrected the spelling of Stormy Daniels’s last name.)

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