OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A new motion has been filed by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) in an effort to prevent former President Donald Trump from obtaining unrestricted access to certain evidence that will be presented by his office in the case against him.
According to The New York Times, on Tuesday, prosecutors from Bragg’s office requested the judge in the case curtail Trump’s capacity to personally scrutinize the prosecution’s evidence against him without the presence of a lawyer.
Bragg’s office claims that such a restriction would thwart the former president from divulging case particulars as he endeavors to regain the presidency in 2024.
“When 34 felony charges were unsealed against Mr. Trump earlier this month, prosecutors working for the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, said they were working with the former president’s lawyers to come to an agreement as to how some case material — personal information of witnesses and evidence, including grand jury testimony — could be used,” the Times reported.
“But the opposing sides could not reach an agreement, and the prosecution’s request is now expected to be opposed by Mr. Trump’s lawyers. Ultimately it will fall to the judge in the case, Juan M. Merchan, to determine whether to limit Mr. Trump’s access and public comments in any way,” the report continued.
The prosecution is not pursuing a gag order to preclude Trump from discussing the case entirely, as Justice Merchan has indicated he would not approve such an order at this stage, said the report. However, the prosecution’s appeal could restrict Trump’s capacity to exploit the evidence for political motives.
This motion, presented by Catherine McCaw, an assistant district attorney, marks an initial maneuver in what is projected to be a contentious and prolonged legal struggle between the two parties on numerous matters in the ensuing months, as the case advances toward a trial, the Times added.
“Mr. Bragg has accused the former president of orchestrating the cover-up of a $130,000 hush-money payment made to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, who agreed to keep quiet about her story of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. The payment was made by Mr. Trump’s former fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who is expected to become a crucial witness for prosecutors at trial,” the Times said, adding that a trial is not expected until next year — in the middle of Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign.
The newspaper said that McCaw referred to Trump’s widely recognized inclination to employ social media and public events to denounce those probing him in her plea to the judge. She emphasized that Trump had already initiated such attacks, directing insults at several individuals implicated in the Manhattan case, comprising Bragg, Cohen, Daniels, and even Merchan himself.
The assistant DA expressed concern as well over the trend of such assaults, especially considering Trump’s involvement in another federal investigation related to his management of classified documents, the Times reported. She pointed out that Trump “is currently under federal investigation for his handling of classified materials, gives rise to significant concern that defendant will similarly misuse grand jury and other sensitive materials here.”
“She requested that Mr. Trump — or anyone else who received the case materials — be blocked from disseminating them to news or social media platforms,” said the Times. “And she said that there was a smaller subset of materials that should be kept in the “exclusive control” of his lawyers. Mr. Trump should be barred from reviewing that material without his lawyers present, Ms. McCaw said. She did not elaborate on what that material was expected to include.”
Furthermore, the district attorney’s office urged for the exclusion of the identities of workers, apart from the prosecutors and investigators assigned to the case, from the case documents. McCaw elaborated that such designations would incorporate paralegals in the office, frequently new graduates from college, said the Times.
Bragg’s case — the first in the nation’s history against a former president — has been heavily scrutinized by a plethora of legal experts as being both weak and politically motivated. Bragg ran for office on a pledge to ‘go after’ Trump.