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Trump legal news brief: Judge hands Trump another defeat, blocking 'fishing expedition' subpoena to NBC over Stormy Daniels documentary

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Judge Juan Merchan blocks an attempt by former President Donald Trump to force NBCUniversal to hand over information about the release of its recent documentary about adult film star Stormy Daniels. The ruling comes two days after Merchan refused to delay the April 15 start of the hush money trial in which Trump is accused of breaking state tax and campaign finance laws by paying off Daniels to hide an alleged extramarital affair. Here are the latest legal developments involving the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

New York hush money

Key players: Judge Juan Merchan, adult film star Stormy Daniels, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg

Why it matters: Trump has worked diligently to have the charges against him dropped and to delay the start of the trial. Merchan's latest ruling shows that the judge has grown impatient with those efforts.

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Thursday, April 4

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Judge Aileen Cannon denies former President Donald Trump's motion to have criminal charges dropped in the classified documents case on the grounds that the Presidential Records Act (PRA) permitted him to keep them in his home after leaving the White House. In the Georgia election interference case, meanwhile, Judge Scott McAfee rejects a motion brought by Trump that sought to have all the charges dropped on the grounds that the First Amendment protects political speech. In his ruling, the judge makes clear that political speech can be prosecuted if it is "used to further criminal activity." Here are the latest legal developments involving the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee for 2024.

Classified documents

Judge refuses to dismiss classified documents charges against Trump

Key players: Judge Aileen Cannon, special counsel Jack Smith

Why it matters: While Cannon has rejected two motions from Trump to dismiss all of the charges against him, her rulings have also given the former president reason to hope that she will ultimately side with him if and when the case goes to trial.

Georgia election interference

Judge denies Trump motion to dismiss all charges

Key players: Judge Scott McAfee, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, Trump lawyer Steve Sadow

Why it matters: Trump's long-shot bid to have the charges dismissed in Georgia is just his latest attempt to derail the four criminal trials he faces. While McAfee did not buy the arguments by Trump's lawyers that the First Amendment prevents him from being prosecuted for his actions to reverse the election results, he did allow that they could raise such arguments during the trial.

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Wednesday, April 3

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Judge Juan Merchan denies a motion by Donald Trump that sought to delay the April 15 start of the hush money trial until after the United States Supreme Court ruled on whether presidential immunity protects him from prosecution. In the classified documents case, meanwhile, prosecutors on special counsel Jack Smith's team ask Judge Aileen Cannon to reverse herself on her proposed instructions to jurors in Trump's as-yet-to-be-scheduled trial. If she does not, they tell Cannon that they could seek a "writ of mandamus" to force her to do so. Here are the latest legal developments involving the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for 2024.

New York hush money

Judge denies Trump motion to delay start of trial

Key players: Judge Juan Merchan, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, adult film star Stormy Daniels, United States Supreme Court

Why it matters: With Monday's ruling expanding Trump's gag order and Wednesday's rejection of Trump's request for a delay, Merchan has signaled that he has lost patience with the former president's tactics in the case.

Classified documents

Smith asks Cannon to drop 'flawed' jury instructions or face appeal

Key players: Special counsel Jack Smith, Judge Aileen Cannon

Why it matters: While Smith has not gone so far as to seek to remove Cannon from the documents case, Tuesday's filing is the clearest sign yet that he sees her as an obstacle to the prospect of obtaining a fair trial for the former president.

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Tuesday, April 2

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Knight Specialty Insurance loans former President Donald Trump $175 million to cover the bond required to prevent New York Attorney General Letitia James from seizing his assets while he appeals the $454 million judgment in his financial fraud trial. The company is owned by billionaire Don Hankey, a Trump voter who has made his fortune offering high-interest, subprime car loans to people with bad credit. Here are the latest legal developments involving the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

New York financial fraud

Knight Specialty Insurance pays Trump's $175 million fraud trial bond

Key players: Knight Specialty Insurance CEO Don Hankey, Judge Arthur Engoron, New York Attorney General Letitia James, Trump attorney Alina Habba

Why it matters: While Trump indicated during the financial fraud trial that he had nearly half a billion in cash reserves, he told the appeals court judge that he wanted to keep that free to use for the 2024 presidential campaign. Having secured a loan from Hankey's company, he is now free, at least for the meantime, to spend it on that.

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Monday, April 1

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Following several attacks on his daughter by former President Donald Trump, Judge Juan Merchan expands his gag order in the hush money trial to include family members. Hope Hicks, who served as Trump's press secretary and communications director in the 2016 campaign, is expected to be called as a witness in the New York hush money trial that begins on April 15, a source tells MSNBC. Since leaving her post as a top White House adviser in 2018, Hicks has testified before the New York grand jury investigating Trump's payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, as well as before the House Jan. 6 select committee. Here are the latest legal developments facing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for 2024.

New York hush money

Judge expands gag order

Key players: Judge Juan Merchan, Democratic political consultant Loren Merchan, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg

Why it matters: Merchan has shown little hesitation to rule against Trump in the case so far, and Trump has seemed intent on pushing the judge's limits. If that continues and Trump defies the judge's orders, he could face the prospect of jail time.

Source: Hope Hicks to testify in hush money case

Key players: Former communications director and press secretary for Trump's 2016 presidential campaign Hope Hicks, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, adult film star Stormy Daniels, former Playboy model Karen McDougal, former American Media CEO David Pecker, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg

Why it matters: While Hicks was long a trusted member of Trump's inner circle, she has cooperated with those who have investigated the former president's conduct. If Bragg does call her to the witness stand, it will be because he believes she will bolster his case.

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