NEW: Judge Deals Alvin Bragg An Early Blow In Trump Trial

The case against former President Donald Trump got off to a rocky start Monday morning as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was denied the opportunity to present one of his key pieces of character evidence.

District Judge Juan Merchan ruled following opening remarks that he would not permit Bragg to show a jury the infamous Hollywood Access tape in which Trump carries on “locker room talk,” as he characterized it, with a host while talking off the record. Bragg had intended to showcase the clip as an example of Trump’s derogatory views toward women as he prosecutes him for business fraud over a hush money payment sent to an adult film star.

ABC News reported on the development after Joshua Steinglass, a prosecutor with Bragg’s team, argued that the video contains “extremely salacious evidence that’s very, very, very prejudicial.” Judge Merchan said he would allow Steinglass to read the words said on tape.

“It’s not a little point,” Merchan said. “My ruling that we were not to play the tape was, and remains, that the tape itself is so prejudicial — to see Mr. Trump depicted, the words coming out of his mouth, the facial expressions … the tape itself should not come in.”

On the tape, President Trump can be overheard telling an associate “when you’re a star, you can do anything” to women, including “Grab them by the p—-.”

Another critical piece of evidence denied includes a video from E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case where the former president suffered an $84 million judgment against him. Carroll maintained that Trump sexually assaulted her decades ago.

As he prepared for the start of his first criminal trial, President Trump sought to leverage his appearance in court Monday to benefit his campaign, releasing a video on Truth Social and X in which he describes the prosecution’s intent to silence him because they are part of a Democratic machine attempting to silence his supporters on Election Day.

“They will try to take away my freedom because I will never let them take away your freedoms,” Trump tells a thunderous crowd. “They will try to silence me because I will never let them silence you. They want you silent, and I’m the only one who can save this nation because you know they’re not coming after me, they’re coming after you.”

“When I walk into that courtroom, I know I will have the love of 200 million Americans behind me, and I will be FIGHTING for the FREEDOM of 325 MILLION AMERICANS!” Trump wrote on Truth Social.

Despite laboring under a gag order, President Trump and his surrogates have successfully used Judge Merchan and his daughter, a Democratic strategist, as foils to raise record sums to support his criminal defenses. A fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago last week brought in $50 million, or twice the sum that a star-studded Biden fundraiser featuring former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton did the week prior.


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