https://thehill.com/regulation/court-ba ... ral-court/
Manhattan prosecutors on Tuesday formally opposed former President Trump’s bid to move his hush money criminal case from state to federal court. Trump’s lawyers earlier this month argued the case cannot be tried in state court because the alleged conduct happened while Trump was serving as president. Such a move would increase the potential jury pool, which is currently limited to the heavily Democratic population of Manhattan. In court documents filed Tuesday, Manhattan prosecutors responded that the case should continue in state court, writing that Trump’s “alleged criminal conduct had no connection to his official duties and responsibilities as President, but instead arose from his unofficial actions relating to his private businesses and pre-election conduct.” Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with his reimbursement to his then-fixer, Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 hush payment made just ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen made the payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about an affair she claims to have had with Trump. Trump denies the affair and pleaded not guilty. Under federal law, federal officers can move criminal prosecutions against them from state to federal court when the allegations relate to an official act and they raise a “colorable federal defense.” “Defendant’s alleged criminal conduct here is similarly divorced from any official duty or responsibility: the pre-election scheme and $130,000 payment to an adult film actress predated defendant’s inauguration, and his post-inauguration actions all derived from this pre-inauguration conduct, rather than any presidential duty, because defendant sought to conceal facts and to reimburse payments that preceded his time in office,” prosecutors wrote.
“Under these circumstances, defendant has failed to establish that the criminal conduct alleged here related to any acts performed under color of the Office of the President,” prosecutors continued. Trump’s lawyers, calling District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s (D) prosecution politically motivated, had further argued that the federal courts have so-called “protective jurisdiction” to prevent state hostility to a federal officer. “This claim fails because ‘protective jurisdiction’ does not exist as a recognized basis for federal court jurisdiction, and because defendant could not satisfy the predicates for invoking that theoretical basis for federal court jurisdiction even if it did exist,” prosecutors pushed back.
Trump’s response is due by June 15. U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, a Clinton appointee, has scheduled a June 27 hearing to decide whether the case will proceed in federal court, but the judge could rule beforehand. Meanwhile, proceedings are continuing in state court. Prosecutors are expected to turn over their evidence to Trump’s legal team in the coming days, and the former president’s lawyers are then expected to mount an effort to dismiss the charges ahead of trial. A trial is tentatively scheduled to begin on March 25, 2024.
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