Manhattan Prosecutors Refuse To Let Trump Go

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday (May 30), Manhattan prosecutors formally challenged former President Donald Trump’s attempt to move a criminal case surrounding hush money payments from state to federal court.

Trump’s lawyers argued earlier in May that a state could not hear the case because the alleged conduct occurred while Trump was President.

If granted, the move to Federal Court would expand the potential jury pool, whereas state jurisdiction currently limits jury selection to the heavily Democratic population of Manhattan.

However, Manhattan Prosecutors argued in court documents filed Tuesday that Trump’s alleged criminal conduct wasn’t connected to his “official duties and responsibilities as President” but originated from “unofficial actions” related to Trump’s “private business and pre-election conduct.”

Trump is facing 34 felony counts of falsifying corporate records because of a $130,000 payment his then-fixer, Michael Cohen, made to adult film star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election. The payment allegedly prevented Daniels from speaking about a 2006 affair with Trump.

Trump denies the charge and has pleaded not guilty.

Under federal law, federal officials can transfer charges against them from state to federal court if the charges relate to an official act and raise a “colorable federal defense.”

Prosecutors argued that Trump’s “alleged criminal conduct here is similarly divorced from any official duty or responsibility,” claiming his “post-inauguration actions” were a consequence of his actions before being inaugurated.

Trump’s response is due June 15.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, a Clinton appointee, has set a hearing for June 27 to decide whether the case will proceed in federal court, but the judge could rule sooner.