A judge must decide whether Trump’s New York criminal case should be sent to federal court

NEW YORK (AP) — A U.S. judge is set to hear arguments on Tuesday regarding President Donald Trump’s attempt to move his New York criminal case out of state court, where he was charged, to federal court where he could potentially try to get the case dismissed.

Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein will hear arguments this afternoon, although he is not expected to rule immediately.

Trump’s lawyers sought to move the case to federal court in Manhattan shortly after Trump pleaded not guilty in April to falsifying his company’s business records to hide silent money payments aimed at burying the allegations of extramarital sex.

While requests to transfer criminal cases from state to federal court are rarely granted, Trump’s lawsuit is unprecedented.

Lawyers for the Republican say the charges, while related to his private company records, involve things he did while president. US law allows criminal prosecutions to be removed from state courts if they involve actions taken by federal government officials in the course of their official duties.

Trump allegedly falsified records to conceal payments made in 2017 to his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to compensate him for orchestrating payments in 2016 to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. Trump denied having had affairs with either of the women.

Trump’s lawyers said those payments to Cohen were legitimate legal fees and not part of any cover-up.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which brought the case, argued that nothing about Cohen’s or the women’s earnings implicated Trump’s official duties as president.

If a judge agrees to send the case to federal court, Trump’s lawyers could then try to have the case dismissed on the grounds that federal officials are immune from criminal prosecution for actions they take in the process. part of their official duties.

Moving the case to federal court would also mean that jurors would potentially be drawn not just from Manhattan, where Trump is wildly unpopular, but also from a handful of suburban counties north of the city where he has more political support.

In state court, a criminal trial has been set for March 25 at the height of the primary season ahead of next November’s presidential election.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg prosecuted the case after Trump left. He is the first former president ever charged with a crime.

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