Prosecutors Demand Trump’s Decision on Advice-of-Counsel Defense Ahead of Hush-Money Trial

New York – Prosecutors in the hush-money case involving former President Donald Trump have requested that he disclose by February 12 whether he plans to mount an advice-of-counsel defense during his trial. Under this defense, Trump would argue that he cannot be held responsible for allegedly falsifying business documents to conceal a hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016, as he was acting on legal advice. In response, Trump’s lawyers have argued that New York law does not require him to reveal his defense strategy before the trial.

The prosecutors have asked Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan to order Trump to provide advance notice of his defense strategy, including all relevant communications between him and his attorneys. They believe that this will help avoid disruptions during the trial. However, Trump’s legal team has stated that he will not disclose whether he plans to use an advice-of-counsel defense until other pretrial motions have been decided. They argue that New York law and legal precedent do not compel him to reveal his defense strategy before the trial.

According to state trial-procedure laws, defendants are only required to give advance notice of specific defenses, such as an insanity defense or an alibi defense. Trump’s lawyers have proposed providing prosecutors with notice of his intent to assert an advice-of-counsel defense two weeks prior to the trial if the pretrial motions are ruled on by March 4.

In their filing, prosecutors have expressed frustration with Trump’s apparent confusion about his defense strategy, citing his previous inclusion of six lawyers as potential witnesses before later removing them from his list. They argue that setting a February 12 deadline would give them adequate time to prepare and serve any necessary trial subpoenas related to the advice-of-counsel defense.

Trump, who pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in April, is accused of falsifying records to conceal a $130,000 payment to Daniels in the days leading up to the 2016 election. The charge carries a potential sentence of zero to four years in prison.

Judge Merchan is expected to issue decisions on pretrial motions and confirm or alter the trial date on February 15.