Judge nixes Trump effort to subpoena Stormy Daniels over documentary and witness communications


Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, on the left; Donald Trump, on the right.

Left: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels speaks outside federal court. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File) Right: Former U.S. President Donald Trump departs New York County Criminal Court. (Anthony Behar/Sipa USA/AP Images)

The New York City judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s hush-money case has denied a defense request to subpoena several forms of documents from adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

In a four-page ruling late Wednesday, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan M. Merchan said the 45th president’s requests were “overbroad” attempts to conduct discovery with a subpoena.

Both Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and counsel for Daniels — a likely state’s witness in the ongoing trial who uses her given name, Stephanie Clifford, in court filings — previously filed motions to quash the subpoena issued by the defense in late March.

After a series of back-and-forth court motions, the court stepped in to settle the dispute.

“When disputes arise concerning the ‘validity or propriety’ of a subpoena, the court must resolve whether the subpoena is enforceable,” Merchan explains. “Because the subpoenaed materials are returnable to the court, it follows that the court retains the ultimate authority on the outer parameters of the subpoena powers.”

The subpoena contained three separate document requests directed at Daniels, whose alleged sexual dalliance with the defendant — specifically the alleged 2016 election eve-facilitated hush-money cover-up of that affair claimed by Daniels — serves as the genesis of the 34-count falsified business records prosecution itself.

The first request asked for “all” the documents in Daniels’ possession related to a recently-released Peacock documentary about her life produced by NBCUniversal — spanning 18 different categories.

In denying this request, Merchan notes that Trump’s lawyers more or less repeated verbatim the requests from another subpoena issued to NBCUniversal in early March — which the court subsequently quashed earlier this month as “the very definition of a fishing expedition.”

The reel-and-catch metaphor is repeated in the Wednesday order during a brief explanation of legal standards a judge should use when deciding whether to compel subpoena compliance or not.

“[T]his Court must determine, among other things, whether the subpoena seeks information to be used for impeachment of general credibility or is instead directed towards revealing specific biases, prejudices or ulterior motives related directly to personalities or issues in the instant matter, whether the solicited information is material to the question of guilt or innocence, or nothing more than a ‘fishing expedition,’” Merchan explains.

More Law&Crime coverage: Judge declines to close door on Trump’s ‘harassing’ social media posts about Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen being used as proof of ‘consciousness of guilt’

Trump’s second document request asked for “all documents relating to communications” between Daniels and several other potential witnesses in the case — including Michael Cohen, Karen McDougal, and E. Jean Carroll, among others — between April 2023 and the present.

Trump’s third request was for all documents “relating to communications” between Daniels and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York between April 2018 and the present.

In each instance, the court determined, with a cursory and terse explanation, that Trump was simply asking for far too much.

“This request is overbroad, seeks general discovery, and is not limited to the subject matter of the case,” Merchan wrote.



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