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Home High profile The judge rejected Trump's request for NBC records regarding a documentary about Stormy Daniels, calling it a 'fishing expedition'

The judge rejected Trump's request for NBC records regarding a documentary about Stormy Daniels, calling it a 'fishing expedition'

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On Friday, a federal judge rejected Donald Trump’s attempt to request records from NBCUniversal connected to a documentary made by the media company about Stormy Daniels, a witness in the ex-president's upcoming hush money and election interference trial.

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Left: - Adult film actress Stormy Daniels speaks outside federal court on April 16, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)/Right: Former U.S. President Donald Trump departs New York County Criminal Court related to his 'hush money' criminal case, New York, NY, March 25, 2024. (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Left: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels speaks outside federal court on April 16, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File). Right: Former U.S. President Donald Trump departs New York County Criminal Court related to his 'hush money' criminal case, New York, NY, March 25, 2024. (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

A federal judge on Friday denied Donald Trump‘s bid to subpoena records from NBCUniversal related to a documentary produced by the media outlet involving Stormy Daniels, a witness in the former president’s pending hush money and election interference trial.

The 4-page order to quash the subpoena was signed by acting New York Justice of the Supreme Court Juan Merchan. The judge explained that in order to sustain the subpoena, Trump would have to prove that the testimony or evidence he would seek out wouldn’t prove “overbroad or unreasonably burdensome.”

He did not.

Subpoenas can be issued when, among other things, it specifically seeks information “to be used for impeachment of general credibility or is instead directed towards revealing specific biases, prejudices or ulterior motives related directly to personalities or issues in the instant matter,” according to the order.

The solicited information must be material to the question of guilt or innocence.

For the journalists at NBC, New York state law protects them with an “absolute privilege from testifying with regard to news under a promise of confidentiality” though it notes, only a “qualified privilege” exists when it comes to unpublished stories or those not under confidentiality.

To overcome this privilege, Trump needed to show a “clear and specific” finding of highly relevant material necessary to his defense. Again, Merchan said, Trump did not.

The records at issue are tied to a documentary NBC is producing about Stormy Daniels. Trump has accused the network of colluding with Daniels and the subpoena requested all of the associated records with its production including details on its premiere and release date, information about editing, promotion, marketing and any form of compensation paid to the adult film star who Trump is accused of paying hush money to ahead of the 2016 election in order to cover up his affair with her.

The now-moot subpoena also demanded NBCUniversal and its affiliates to turn over any information on the rights to the documentary and all agreements if they exist between the network, Daniels — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — and Michael Cohen, Trump’s onetime fixer and expected witness.

NBCUniversal Media senior vice president Eric Forstadt had earlier informed the court that Daniels had no rights to approve the documentary nor the timing of its release.

“Because defendant’s claims are purely speculative and unsupported, his subpoena and the demands therein are the very definition of a fishing expedition,” Merchan wrote.

“Second, even if this court were to find that Defendant’s request was not speculative, or that it seeks general discovery, NBCUniversal’s motion nonetheless would be granted because Defendant seeks unfettered access to the notes and materials of a media organization in violation of Civil Rights Law 79-h.”

The trial for Trump in Manhattan is set to start on April 15.

Lawyers for the parties did not respond right away to a request for comment.

 
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