Former President Donald Trump’s request to transfer his New York state court case concerning a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to federal court was denied by Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein on Wednesday. This decision means that Trump is set to go to trial on March 25, 2024, in Manhattan Supreme Court. In March, Trump was indicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. Despite Trump’s arguments that the case should be heard in federal court because the alleged conduct occurred during his presidency and was performed “under color of office,” Hellerstein dismissed these claims. In an order, the judge stated, “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.” Hellerstein further described the matter as a personal issue for the former president, explaining that the evidence overwhelmingly suggests it was a cover-up of an embarrassing event.
The case revolves around records that misrepresented the purpose of payments made by Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, to his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, during his time in the White House. Trump initially claimed that the money was for legal services, but it was later revealed that it was intended to reimburse Cohen for a $130,000 payment he made to Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election. This payment was made to ensure Daniels’ silence regarding her alleged sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier. Trump denies the allegations.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is prosecuting Trump, expressed satisfaction with the federal court’s decision and looks forward to proceeding with the case in New York State Supreme Court. Joseph Tacopina, Trump’s lawyer, did not provide an immediate comment on the ruling. However, a spokesman for Trump’s campaign released a statement criticizing the decision, accusing Alvin Bragg of abusing his power to benefit President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. The spokesman claimed that the Democrats are using the judicial system as a weapon to harm their political opponents.
It is worth noting that Trump has pleaded not guilty in this case. Additionally, he has also pleaded not guilty in a separate federal criminal case in Florida, where he faces numerous charges related to the retention of classified records after leaving office. Trump, who is currently seeking the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election, is the first president, whether incumbent or former, to face criminal charges.