Trump fails to shift hush-money case to federal court from New York

Former President Donald Trump. Reuters/File

Former President Donald Trump has suffered a significant legal setback as his attempt to move the New York hush-money case to federal court has been denied. 

The case revolves around a $130,000 payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, and Trump was indicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records. US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein firmly rejected Trump’s arguments, saying, “The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the matter was purely a personal item of the President, a cover-up of an embarrassing event.” 

“There is no reason to believe that the New York judicial system would not be fair and give Trump equal justice under the law,” Judge Hellerstein wrote in his ruling.

“Trump has failed to show that the conduct charged by the Indictment is for or related to any act performed by or for the President under color of the official acts of a President,” he wrote in the order.

Trump’s claims that the case should be in federal court were dismissed, as hush money paid to an adult film star is not related to a President’s official acts.

In another legal setback for Trump, a separate federal judge in New York rejected his request for a new trial in the hush-money case involving Stormy Daniels, where Trump was found liable for sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll, resulting in a $5 million award.

Trump’s legal team has not immediately commented on the possibility of an appeal, leaving the next steps uncertain. The hush-money case is now set to proceed in New York State Supreme Court in March 2024. Despite Trump’s claims of political motivation, the Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, expressed satisfaction with the federal court’s decision, affirming his commitment to pursuing justice in the state court.

Trump continues to maintain his innocence and has pleaded not guilty in both the hush-money case and a separate Florida federal criminal case related to retaining classified records after leaving office. As the legal battles persist, Trump’s campaign has accused the New York judicial system of political bias, claiming an attempt to prevent his potential re-election.

The outcome of the hush-money case carries significant weight as it will mark the first instance of a former president facing criminal charges if it goes to trial in March 2024. As the legal proceedings unfold, the implications for Trump’s political future and the broader implications for the American justice system remain uncertain.

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