Judge blocks Manhattan D.A. subpoena of Melania Trump emails

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A New York judge has ruled in favor of former President Donald Trump’s effort to block a pair of Manhattan district attorney subpoenas seeking emails sent by former first lady Melania Trump and other documents in his New York criminal case.

The judge, Juan Merchan, ruled that the subpoenas were overly broad. Prosecutors for Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg’s office had sought to obtain those emails and documents as part of a felony case against Trump for alleged falsification of business records. 

The quashed subpoenas also sought nearly a year’s worth of emails between Trump Organization employees and White House officials, more than two years of Trump’s travel itineraries, and emails between former Trump executive assistant Rhona Graff and Melania Trump, as well as from Graff to former director of Oval Office operations Keith Schiller. 

“This request would yield significantly more responsive records than necessary,” Merchan wrote of the subpoena related to Melania Trump. 

A spokesperson for Bragg’s office declined to comment on the ruling. A spokesperson for the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment. 

Merchan indicated in the ruling he would not block another subpoena in which Bragg’s office sought the lengthy videotaped deposition Trump gave to attorneys for writer E. Jean Carroll prior to a federal civil trial in which a jury found him liable for sexually abusing her. Portions of the deposition were played at the trial, but Merchan didn’t outright order the tape be turned over to prosecutors. Instead, he instructed prosecutors to ask the federal judge to clarify if the rest of the video is still protected by a confidentiality order put in place before the trial.

Judge Merchan’s order was issued on July 7, but was not made public until Thursday when it was filed by Bragg’s office in the Carroll case, along with a letter seeking input from the federal judge on the issue concerning the tape of Trump’s deposition.

Prosecutors “have demonstrated that the request seeks items that are relevant and material” to the New York criminal case, Merchan wrote.

Merchan also partially blocked, and partially granted, a subpoena from Bragg seeking severance, confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements related to 17 current and former Trump Organization employees. Merchan wrote that prosecutors documented why seven of those people were relevant to the case, but not the other 10.

Trump and his attorneys have repeatedly criticized Merchan. Trump posted on social media after he was indicted that Merchan “hates me” and accused the judge of treating two Trump Organization companies “viciously” during a trial last year in which they were found guilty of 17 felonies related to tax fraud. His attorneys also sought Merchan’s recusal from Trump’s criminal case, citing a pair of donations he’d made to Democratic causes totaling $35. No decision on that motion has been made public.

In a previous filing, prosecutors said portions of Trump’s video deposition that were publicly released as a result of Carroll’s lawsuit indicated that his deposition covered topics that also related to their criminal case. 

The Manhattan D.A. cited statements Trump made in the deposition about the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, which went public in October 2016, just before the presidential election. They said the tape, in which Trump can be heard talking about grabbing women’s genitals, “features prominently in the People’s case.”

Prosecutors are also interested in Trump’s civil deposition testimony about allegations of sexual misconduct by two other women, arguing, “the way in which defendant dealt with allegations of a sexual nature by women in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election is clearly relevant to the allegations in the People’s case.”

Trump entered a not guilty plea in April to 34 felony counts of falsification of business records related to a payment his former attorney made to adult film star Stormy Daniels days before the 2016 presidential election. His March 30 indictment was the first time a former president had ever been charged with crimes. 

The Manhattan district attorney’s office alleges Trump orchestrated a “catch and kill” scheme to suppress damaging information before the 2016 election, and then allegedly falsified business records to conceal three payments, including $130,000 that Trump’s attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen paid to Daniels.

On June 9, Trump was indicted again in a separate federal case. In that case, prosecutors led by special counsel Jack Smith initially accused Trump of 37 felonies related to the “willful retention” of classified information. On Thursday, they added three more counts against Trump including: altering, destroying, mutilating, or concealing an object; corruptly altering, destroying, mutilating or concealing a document, record or other object; and an additional charge of willful retention of national defense information.

Trump has entered a not guilty plea in the case, in which two other aides are also charged. He has adamantly insisted he did nothing wrong in both cases.



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