Donald Trump's lawyers are seeking to pull the rug out from underneath Alvin Bragg by moving his politically driven "hush money" case to federal court.
A federal trial would presumably draw from a less biased jury pool as it would not be limited to overwhelmingly liberal Manhattan, where Trump is deeply unpopular.
Trump's lawyers issued the request in a motion to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) Thursday afternoon.
The nine-page motion took direct aim at the "unprecedented" and "novel theory" driving Bragg's case.
Several commentators have questioned whether Bragg, a state prosecutor, can actually bring the case at all, since it accuses Trump of violating federal election law.
"There has never been a prosecution under New York State law based on an alleged violation of election law pertaining to a federal election. And there are serious federal preemption issues with such a prosecution," the motion read.
Bragg took the unusual step of upgrading state charges for "falsifying business records" to felonies by claiming Trump concealed hush money payments to Stormy Daniels in order to hide federal campaign violations. According to Bragg, Trump also violated state election law.
Trump's lawyers raised the "preemption" defense, saying the state charges do not apply because Trump was a candidate for federal office, and Bragg does not have the authority to bring the federal charges because he is a state prosecutor.
Trump's lawyers also said he should be tried in federal court because the alleged violation, misrepresenting payments to Michael Cohen, happened while Trump was president.
"Never before has a local elected prosecutor criminally prosecuted a defendant either for conduct that occurred entirely while the defendant was the sitting President of the United States or for conduct that related to federal campaign contribution laws," the motion says.
A federal judge has to decide whether to grant Trump's request.
There was also a hearing in state court Thursday, where the judge in Trump's case, Juan Merchan, set a trial date for February or March. That would push the case right into the Republican presidential primary.
The indictment has already given Trump a major boost in the 2024 horserace, although it's unclear how it would affect his prospects in a general election.