Manhattan DA sharply rejects discovery violations alleged by Trump’s defense attorneys


Donald Trump, on the left; Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, on the right

Former President Donald Trump in National Harbor, Md., Feb. 24, 2024. (Francis Chung/POLITICO via AP Images); Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Jr. on Feb. 8, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by: NDZ/STAR MAX/IPx )

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on Thursday rejected allegations his office had violated discovery obligations in former President Donald Trump’s New York hush-money case, characterizing recent defense claims as part of an effort to delay the upcoming criminal trial.

In a 31-page memo, the district attorney’s office pleaded with New York Supreme Court Justice Juan M. Merchan to move forward soon — despite the recent transfer of some 73,000 pages of discovery materials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Those materials were sourced from a prior federal file in a case targeting longtime Trump attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen.

Bragg and his office say there’s very little information relevant to the hush-money case in the trove of recently discovered documents.

“The overwhelming majority of the production is entirely immaterial, duplicative or substantially duplicative of previously disclosed materials, or cumulative of evidence concerning Michael Cohen’s unrelated federal convictions that defendant has been on notice about for months,” the filing reads. “Given the limited amount of new information in the recent productions and the USAO’s completion of its productions, no relief beyond the adjournment already ordered by the Court is warranted.”

The first criminal trial against the 45th president was slated to begin on March 25. The late-coming discovery materials prompted the defense to move for a 90-day pause and discovery sanctions against the state. In response, Bragg’s office agreed to a 30-day pause — which the court quickly granted, pushing the trial to mid-April.

As for the alleged discovery violations, the district attorney’s office insists their fingerprints are simply not on the files in question.

“Contrary to defendant’s arguments, the USAO’s responses to his subpoena do not support any claim of a discovery violation by the People or prosecutorial misconduct that would warrant more drastic relief,” the filing argues. “As a threshold matter, there cannot be a discovery violation here because the USAO’s materials are not part of the People’s disclosure obligations.”

Trump’s attorneys, in a letter motion filed last week, alleged “significant and ongoing discovery violations” related to the timeliness and volume of the Cohen documents. That letter motion also contains several redactions related to the recent government disclosures — which appear to further allege additional wrongdoing.

Bragg says Trump’s allegations are off-base because his office tried to get the documents as soon as they could while the defendants were the ones who were intentionally dragging their feet.

“Even assuming that the People’s possession extended to records held by an independent federal prosecutor, the People engaged in good-faith and diligent efforts to obtain relevant information from the USAO,” the filing goes on. “Moreover, the belated nature of the recent USAO productions is entirely a result of defendant’s own inexplicable and strategic delay in identifying perceived deficiencies.”

The district attorney’s office says they are prepared to document their prior discovery efforts during a March 25 hearing “and to explain why the adjournment already ordered” by Merchan “is more than sufficient time for both sides to review” the recently released Cohen materials.

Bragg claims his office more or less completed their due diligence on the relevant discovery materials “last summer” and chides the defense for not following up with them until early this month.

The state’s filing also dings Trump’s defense attorneys for waiting until January of this year to subpoena the U.S. Attorney’s Office and for agreeing “to repeated extensions of the return date.”

Trump, in his latest filing, has requested another hearing — to discuss discovery sanctions — and is still pushing for a dismissal of the indictment. The district attorney says none of that is necessary.

“Defendant’s motion for sanctions or dismissal based on the production of records from the USAO is meritless,” the government’s filing reads. “The People had no disclosure obligations at all under CPL 245.20 with respect to those records, which were not in our actual or constructive possession; and the People satisfied any obligation that might exist by diligently requesting records from the USAO relevant to the subject matter of this prosecution.”

The district attorney also takes issue with the numbers being used to advance the defense’s claims of prosecutorial malfeasance.

While admitting the total amount of discovery materials is in excess of 170,000 “total pages,” Bragg’s office argues “it is more helpful to understand the production as containing 6,871 documents.”

The 30-day pause already granted in the case is more than enough time to get through the new documents, Bragg says.

“This volume of additional materials is not so excessive as to warrant any relief beyond the modest adjournment that this Court has already ordered,” the filing reads. “All of these materials are now available to defendant before trial and before any witness may testify. And the thirty-day adjournment ordered by this Court is more than enough time for defendant and the People to review the limited number of relevant, non-duplicative, non-cumulative materials in the USAO productions.”

In New York, the 45th president faces a 34-count felony indictment over allegedly falsified business records related to payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016. Those charges against Trump marked the first time in U.S. history that a former president faced a criminal indictment. Now, Trump is battling back against four criminal indictments in three states and the District of Columbia.

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