U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Court blocks Trump subpoena over Stormy Daniels documentary on NBC

Incident Details

Date of Incident
March 11, 2024
New York, New York

Subpoena/Legal Order

Legal Orders
Legal Order Target
Legal Order Venue
Reuters/Alyssa Pointer

Donald Trump in Atlanta, Georgia, in April 2024. The judge overseeing Trump’s hush money criminal trial in New York quashed a subpoena April 5 that sought material from an NBCUniversal documentary about porn actor Stormy Daniels.

— Reuters/Alyssa Pointer
March 11, 2024

The justice overseeing the hush money criminal trial of former President Donald Trump quashed a subpoena April 5, 2024, that sought material from a recent NBCUniversal documentary about porn actor Stormy Daniels.

The subpoena, first issued March 11, was part of an effort by Trump to prove that NBCUniversal and Daniels conspired to release the documentary close to his trial date, according to legal documents reviewed by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. The documentary was released March 18, a week before the original trial date.

The subpoena requested access to all materials related to the making, promotion, premiere and release of the documentary. But Justice Juan Merchan wrote in the court order that granting the subpoena would give Trump and his legal team “unfettered access to the notes and materials of a media organization,” in violation of New York’s shield law.

Trump’s claims were unsupported, he ruled, adding that, “His subpoena and the demands therein are the very definition of a fishing expedition.”

In the underlying criminal case, Trump is accused of covering up hush money payments made by his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to Daniels after she said she had a sexual encounter with him in 2006. Trump has been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records after allegedly misidentifying payments to Cohen, marking them as for legal services when he was repaying him for the hush money given to Daniels.

Trump is currently expected to go on trial for the charges April 15, despite multiple efforts to stall the proceedings.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].