Federal judge throws shade on Trump attempt to move hush payments case to federal court

 June 28, 2023

A federal judge overseeing former President Donald Trump's effort to move a New York state criminal case against him to federal court said Tuesday at a hearing in the matter that he doubts the effort will succeed.

“The argument is very clear that the act for which the president has been indicted does not relate to anything under color of his office," Bill Clinton-appointed Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York said.

His official ruling won't come for two weeks, but the comments made it clear which way he was leaning at the time.

Trump's lawyers argued that because some of the payments Trump is alleged to have made to his then-personal attorney Michael Cohen in 2017 occurred while he was president, the case should be a federal one.

Trump seeks favorable jury

It's clear that a federal jury could at least potentially be more favorable to Trump than a Manhattan one.

Bragg argued the federal court “need not and should not wade into this morass” and the case should stay at the state level “based on the defendant's failure to identify an act under color of office or any colorable federal defense.”

But part of the reason Bragg even bothered to bring the case in the first place was because Democrats believed the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels were an attempt to influence the 2016 election by silencing Daniels.

By this reasoning, the case very much has to do with Trump's presidency, which is a federal matter.

Bragg is determined

Several other prosecutors investigated Trump for years and decided not to bring the case, but Bragg was bound and determined to get Trump on something, and decided to turn what are actually misdemeanors that are past the statute of limitations into felonies just so he could prosecute them.

The logic is flimsy at best, and Bragg is up against steep odds that he will be able to prove Trump did anything wrong.

Still, both sides know they need to pull out all the stops at each and every part of this case if they want to ensure success, and Trump is mounting a vigorous defense while insisting he is innocent and did nothing wrong.

While the arraignment was in April, the case won't even see a preliminary hearing until December if it stays in Manhattan, ensuring that it will be front and center as voters choose the GOP nominee for 2024, a race in which Trump is currently the frontrunner.

It's by design that Bragg and the liberal New York courts chose this timing, but the effort to get Trump criminally seems to be making his candidacy stronger rather than weaker, at least for now.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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