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Trump leaves Trump Tower on way to blockbuster hearing in Stormy Daniels hush money case: Ex-president faces two major court battles as George judge also considers disqualifying Fani Willis

Donald Trump stepped out of his Manhattan tower Thursday morning as he prepares to again appear in New York court in his bid to get the judge to toss out the Stormy Daniels hush money payment case. 

And down in Georgia, Trump and his co-defendants are moving on Thursday to disqualify Fulton County district Attorney Fani Willis from leading her racketeering trial after the emergence of her affair with one of the prosecutors on the case.

Both are part of tactics by the former president to delay the four concurrent criminal trials against him, which contain 91 felony charges, until after Election Day, when he could then theoretically pardon himself if president.

The Stormy Daniels case is the first in a series of trials against Trump for falsifying business records related to the $130,000 paid to porn star and former Playboy Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about their affair in the weeks before the 2016 election. 

Former President Donald Trump waves as he leaves his Manhattan Trump Tower to appear in court on Thursday while his attorneys attempt to get the Stormy Daniels hush money payment case tossed out – or at least delayed until after the election

Former President Donald Trump waves as he leaves his Manhattan Trump Tower to appear in court on Thursday while his attorneys attempt to get the Stormy Daniels hush money payment case tossed out – or at least delayed until after the election

Trump's attorney Todd Blanche arrives at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York on Thursday as the former president prepares for court in the Stormy Daniels hush money payment case

Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche arrives at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York on Thursday as the former president prepares for court in the Stormy Daniels hush money payment case

The former president’s attorney Todd Blanche was pictured arriving at Trump Tower in Manhattan Thursday morning before his client left his New York City residence for court across town.

Justice Juan Merchan will hear on Thursday from Blanche and fellow Trump attorney Susan Necheles, who are imploring him to throw out the hush-money payment case altogether. They claim that New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg targeted Trump for political reasons. 

If the attempt to completely dismiss the case is not successful, Trump’s legal team will seek to delay the trial – just as they have done in all four criminal cases he is facing. 

The preliminary trial date for Trump’s hush money payment case is set for March 25. But his team wants to push that to after the November election.

In March 2023, a New York grand jury voted to indict Trump on more than 30 charges related to business fraud, including the payments made to Daniels, whose real name is Karen McDougal, to keep their extramarital affair a secret ahead of the 2016 election.

But this case could be the least consequential in terms of political fallout and potential prison time.

The ruling on Thursday will, however, provide more insight into whether Trump will glide to the Republican presidential nomination this spring, or be derailed by a series of criminal trials throughout his campaigning season. 

Trump puts up a fist as he acknowledged cameras and reporters while stepping out of Trump Tower in New York City on Thursday en route to a pre-trial hearing at Manhattan Criminal Court in the case where he was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records

Trump puts up a fist as he acknowledged cameras and reporters while stepping out of Trump Tower in New York City on Thursday en route to a pre-trial hearing at Manhattan Criminal Court in the case where he was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records

Prosecutors claim Trump's 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels (pictured with Trump) an illegal campaign donation, which allowed them to bring felony charges rather than just misdemeanor

Prosecutors claim Trump’s 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels (pictured with Trump) an illegal campaign donation, which allowed them to bring felony charges rather than just misdemeanor

Trump's attorneys claim that New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg (pictured) targeted Trump for political reasons and that the hush money case should not include felony charges

Trump’s attorneys claim that New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg (pictured) targeted Trump for political reasons and that the hush money case should not include felony charges

Trump will appear in Manhattan court alongside Blanche and Necheles as they question whether prosecutors can call the hush money payment an illegal campaign donation. This argument is what prosecutors are using to make their falsification of business records case against Trump a felony rather than just a misdemeanor. 

The former president is also facing cases for him trying to overturn the 2020 election results and mishandling classified documents after leaving office.

In Georgia on Thursday, Trump and his co-defendants are looking to disqualify DA Willis from leading her election interference racketeering case.

The efforts come after news emerged of Willis’ affair with one of the prosecutors on the case.

If ousting Willis is successful, the criminal case in Georgia for Trump’s attempts to subvert the 2020 election could be set back months as new prosecutors catch up on the case. 

Meanwhile, Trump and co-defendants are seeking to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (pictured) from leading her racketeering trial after the emergence of her affair with one of the prosecutors on the case

Meanwhile, Trump and co-defendants are seeking to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (pictured) from leading her racketeering trial after the emergence of her affair with one of the prosecutors on the case

It’s possible a new prosecutor team could move to change the charges against Trump and his allies.

Judge Scott McAfee will hear from both sides in the Georgia case on Thursday after already rejecting prosecutors’ request to cancel the hearing.

The co-defendants in the Georgia case argue that Willis and fellow prosecutor Nathan Wade have a conflict of interest in the case because they have financially benefited from their reported arrangement.

It’s not clear if Willis will take the stand to testify on Thursday while Trump appears in Manhattan court the same day.

Michael Cohen's attorney provided an image of copies of two checks the former president's longtime fixer received that he claims Trump wrote from his personal bank account after he became president to reimburse him for payments made to Daniels for her silence

Michael Cohen’s attorney provided an image of copies of two checks the former president’s longtime fixer received that he claims Trump wrote from his personal bank account after he became president to reimburse him for payments made to Daniels for her silence

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