Judge Rejects Trump Attempt to Move New York Criminal Case to Federal Court
Judge Alvin Hellerstein denied former President Donald Trump’s request to move his New York State “hush money” criminal case to federal court. Hellerstein rejected Trump’s claim that Michael Cohen’s payments were presidential service-related.
Prosecutors claim the payments were disguised reimbursements for a “hush money” payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.
Trump’s lawyers argued that federal court should hear the case because the payments were made while he was president. Hellerstein argued that Trump’s immunity from state prosecution does not apply because the reimbursements and business record falsification are unrelated to his presidential duties.
Trump’s presidential campaign spokesperson criticized the ruling and accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of political targeting. The spokesperson pledged to take the case to federal court.
Hellerstein dismissed Trump’s claim that the indictment was politically motivated, saying the grand jury had a rational basis.
Trump’s attorneys requested New York Judge Juan Merchan’s recusal and a new state court judge. Trump’s motion claimed Merchan influenced the prosecution’s key witness in a prior case involving two Trump Organization companies. It also noted Merchan’s daughter’s work with a Democratic consulting firm and his small 2020 Democratic donations. Merchan has not made a recusal decision.
Hellerstein’s decision follows Trump’s announcement that the Justice Department is investigating him again, suggesting a third indictment. Trump testified before a federal grand jury in that investigation, which alleges undermining the 2020 presidential election after Trump’s defeat.
This investigation and a federal case charging Trump with 37 felony counts for “willful retention” of national security information after leaving the White House are under special counsel Jack Smith. Trump has denied wrongdoing and called the investigations political.
Trump’s legal team and supporters vow to fight the charges and defend him against these criminal allegations.