New York federal court denies Trump bid to move falsified business records case out of state court News
Kidfly182, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
New York federal court denies Trump bid to move falsified business records case out of state court

A New York federal judge denied on Wednesday former US President Donald Trump’s effort to move Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s criminal case against him from a New York state court to a federal court. As a result, Bragg’s criminal case against Trump, in which Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records, will proceed to trial on March 25, 2024, in a New York Supreme Court.

US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein found:

Trump has failed to show that the conduct charged by [Bragg] is for or relating to any act performed by or for the President under color of the official acts of a President. Trump also has failed to show that he has a colorable federal defense to the Indictment.

Trump originally filed to move the case from a New York state court to a federal court on May 4. Trump argued that, because he was president at the time the alleged criminal acts occurred, the charges are more properly suited for federal court. To support his argument, Trump pointed to 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1), which states that any state criminal prosecution filed against an officer of the US for actions taken in their official capacity should be removed from state court to a US federal district court.

Trump also asserted the federal defense of immunity under the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution, prohibits states from interfering with the federal government’s exercise of constitutional powers. Trump argued he only took the alleged criminal actions because he was president of the US and wanted to separate his personal business from his official duties.

Trump also claimed that the federal court should exercise “protective jurisdiction,” claiming that Bragg only brought the charges against him because he “disfavored President’s Trump’s acts and policies.”

In his Wednesday order, Hellerstein rejected all of Trump’s arguments. Hellerstein found:

The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the matter was [] purely a personal item of the President—a cover-up of an embarrassing event. Hush money paid to an adult film star is not related to a President’s official acts. It does not reflect in any way the color of the President’s official duties.

The court found that Trump’s arguments fell short of the evidentiary standard required to remove the case from New York state court to federal court.

On April 4, Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of “falsifying business records in the first degree” in a Manhattan, New York courtroom. The criminal case is led by Bragg and alleges that from August 2015 to December 2017, Trump and his allies perpetrated a scheme to hide damaging information related to adult film star Stormy Daniels from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.

In addition to Bragg’s case, Trump also faces two federal cases led by Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith. In the first case, Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 criminal counts in a Florida federal court based on his alleged wrongful retention and concealment of classified documents. In the second case, Trump claimed on Tuesday that he received a letter from Smith indicating he faced potential federal criminal charges regarding his actions around the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

Trump also potentially faces another criminal case in Georgia involving his actions during the 2020 election. The case is led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who just launched another grand jury to determine whether to indict Trump over alleged election interference in the state.