“We strongly object to what is happening in this courtroom,” Blanche said during the hearing, which lasted more than 90 minutes. “The fact that President Trump is going to spend the next two months working on this trial instead of being on the presidential campaign should not happen in this country.”

Blanche called the decision “completely election interference,” echoing comments Trump himself made on his way to the courtroom.

in a
30 page failure Posted Thursday morning, Merchan denied Trump’s attempt to dismiss the hush money charges. Trump had argued, among other things, that the prosecution of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, was politically motivated.

Those arguments, Merchan wrote, “strain credulity.” He wrote that prosecutors “have demonstrated that the investigation and subsequent prosecution began after the defendant’s ties to criminal conduct that occurred in New York prior to the 2016 presidential election were publicly reported.”

The trial is expected to last about six weeks.

Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to the hush payments. Trump allegedly arranged the payments through an intermediary in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, intending to quash Daniels’ story about a sexual encounter with Trump.

According to the indictment, Trump falsified the payments in the Trump Organization’s corporate records and never reported the money in campaign finance documents as required.

The hush money case is one of four criminal trials Trump faces as he advances toward the Republican nomination. The timelines of the other three cases — two for attempting to overturn the 2020 election results and one for hoarding classified documents — remain unclear.

Prosecutors in those cases are pushing for trials to begin before this year’s election, but Trump has sought to postpone them or dismiss the cases entirely.

During the hearing, Merchan said he spoke twice last week with the judge overseeing Trump’s federal criminal case in Washington, D.C., U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, to coordinate scheduling.

Thursday’s hearing also addressed jury selection for the March trial. Blanche argued that Trump’s many legal headaches have created not only scheduling difficulties but also an “extraordinarily harmful” environment for selecting jurors.

Pointing to two recent trials against Trump (a civil fraud trial in a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Tish James, and a defamation trial in a lawsuit filed by writer E. Jean Carroll), Blanche complained of “ the enormous and extraordinary media saturation that we are experiencing in this city right now,” suggesting that it would complicate the task of finding impartial jurors for a trial in March.

When Merchan asked if Blanche was done arguing about the trial date, Blanche responded, “I’d like to talk about it all day, Judge.”

Attorneys also discussed proposed questions that will be asked of potential jurors. Prosecutors asked questions such as whether jurors believe the 2020 election was stolen. Trump’s lawyers also suggested questions, including one about whether a potential juror has ever contributed to a political campaign or political action committee.

Trump did not speak in court Thursday beyond leaning in and whispering to one of his lawyers throughout the proceedings.

However, as he left the courthouse, Trump told reporters that “they want to keep me nice and busy so I can’t campaign so intensely,” promising to attend his trial during the day and hit the court every night.

“So instead of being in South Carolina and other states campaigning, I’m stuck here in an election interference case,” he said. “No one has ever seen anything like this in this country.”

Christine Zhu contributed to this report.

By Sam