Trump legal team wants criminal case moved to federal court

 May 5, 2023

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg made headlines last month when he indicted former President Donald Trump on charges stemming from an alleged payoff to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Trump's lawyers contend that Bragg is only interested in scoring political points, however, and this week they asked for him to be removed from the case. 

Lawyers say prosecution is politically motivated

According to the New York Daily News, that request came in the form of a motion to have the case transferred to federal court.

It quoted their brief as saying that the prosecution "is politically motivated and was brought because a local politician — here D.A. Bragg — disfavored President Trump’s acts and policies as President of the United States."

The attorney went on to argue that moving the matter to the Southern District of New York would be appropriate given how "there is a clear nexus" between the alleged payoff and "former President Trump’s position as President of the United States."

Emily Tuttle is a spokeswoman for Bragg's office, and she was quoted as saying, "We are reviewing the notice of removal and will file an appropriate response in court."

The prosecution seeks to bar Trump from commenting publicly

Meanwhile, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan told Trump's legal team it should expect the trial to start next February or March if the federal court should turn down their request.

Trump's lawyers aren't the only ones filing motions, as the Daily News noted that Assistant Manhattan DA Catherine McCaw presented one of her own last week.

McCaw wishes to have Merchan forbid Trump from publicly commenting on evidence in his prosecution, citing his past behavior as justification.

She complained that Trump has a "longstanding and perhaps singular history of attacking witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, trial jurors, grand jurors, judges, and others involved in legal proceedings against him, putting those individuals and their families at considerable safety risk."

Judge cool to arguments based on Trump's candidacy

In response, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche highlighted his client's status as a presidential candidate, stating, "Our client should be allowed to disclose to the people who are going to vote or not going to vote for him his defense of the case."

Blanche also asked that any restrictions imposed on Trump should also apply to Bragg as well as other prosecutors in his office, an idea Merchan quickly shot down.

The judge was also unreceptive to Blanche's election-related rationale, declaring, "If he’s running for office, you’re saying he should be held to a different standard from all other defendants who come into this courtroom?"

"I have to apply the law as I see fit, and in that regard, I am bending over backward and straining to allow him to advance his candidacy. ... The last thing I want to do is infringe on his or anyone else’s First Amendment rights," he added.

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