The trial of former president Donald Trump, first set for March 25 in New York, has been officially delayed until April 15. The delay in what would be the first of Trump’s many and varied criminal cases to reach trial provides an opportunity to reassess what this particular case means for our democracy. 

It’s often referred to in the media as Trump’s “hush money” case. But make no mistake: this case is about election interference in 2016. Trump’s actions in both 2016 and 2020 constitute an attack on American democracy, and we must ensure that he is held accountable for the ways he has attempted to sow distrust in our elections.

We are familiar with Trump’s attempts to subvert the most recent presidential election. The violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, erupted in part because Trump failed to accept the results of the 2020 election. He has repeatedly jeopardized the country’s electoral system by claiming that the election was fraudulent while accusing officials around the country of tampering with election results. In Georgia, where he faces charges of election interference, he implored Secretary of State Brian Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” to overturn his defeat.

However, Trump’s attempts to mislead voters go back to 2016, and the New York trial will be the nation’s first opportunity to find accountability for this troubling pattern of deception. Trump will stand trial on 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up the $130,000 payment to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels. But this trial isn’t just about illegal payments to cover up an affair; it is about the reason the affair needed to be covered up — to help Trump win the election in 2016. And that makes this an election interference trial, too.

The New York trial isn’t just about paying Daniels to keep quiet after an alleged affair with Trump in 2006. As we know, the payment to Daniels occurred a decade after the affair and just before the 2016 election. In Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, a vital part of his voter base was devout Christian Americans who strongly opposed extramarital sex, marital infidelity and adultery. Trump’s attempt to suppress the previous affair with Daniels days before the 2016 election shows the likely true purpose of the money — a “cover-up” to attempt to influence voters. The payment also came right after Trump’s campaign took a tremendous hit due to the leaked “Access Hollywood” tape, which affected Trump’s base of support after it revealed he openly bragged about sexual assault.

One of Trump’s lawyers, Michael Cohen, worked closely with Trump and his campaign to orchestrate the handling of Daniels’ payments. Cohen stated that Trump directed him to use funds from a home equity line of credit to avoid any money being traced back to him “that could negatively impact his campaign.” As we all know, Cohen has gone to jail for his crimes in this matter. As the unnamed co-conspirator in the Cohen case, there is no reason Trump should escape that same accountability.

Trump’s actions in 2016 were not isolated but the beginning of a pattern of interference in not one, but two elections. Following his actions to conceal his affair from voters in 2016, Trump and his MAGA allies attempted to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia by threatening state election officials.

The New York trial is critical to ward off future election interference as it will establish a precedent that plainly illustrates a troubling pattern of Trump’s attempts to conceal information from voters and subvert election results. It will also serve as a stark reminder that no one is above the law, not even a former president.