Trump May Fail In His Quest for Trial In Federal Court:
The legal wrangling is heating up concerning Donald Trump’s 34-count felony indictment case for allegedly falsifying business records related to hush money paid to an adult video actress.
The former president wants to move his trial from state court to federal court, but the Manhattan district attorney is trying to foil that request.
Top prosecutor Alvin Bragg said in a filing that Trump is not currently a holder of a federal office and that his transgressions happened before he was president.
Hence, a federal court is not the correct venue.
Trump’s lawyers believe that since the case pertains to federal election law that the change of venue is proper. Bragg wants to continue to be the prosecutor of record.
What Are the Charges for Donald Trump?
Trump is accused of falsifying business records by paying his lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen. Cohen then sent a total of $130,000 to Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about an extramarital affair between her and Trump.
What Happened In New York Stays in New York for Trump?
Bragg believes these alleged crimes happened in New York and that the trial should remain in Manhattan in state court.
Plus, Trump was indicted by a New York grand jury that would necessitate the trial happening there.
Trump’s legal strategy for wanting a change in venue from state to federal court is not readily apparent. He may feel that a federal jury pool would give him a chance to have more conservatives on the panel. Trump’s attorneys are likely predicting that in New York City, many potential jurors would be more liberal and have animus against the former president. A federal court could also give Trump’s legal team room to delay the proceedings and allow them to file more motions to strike down the charges.
Trial to Happen in the Middle of the Campaign
The current judge has ordered Trump to clear his calendar for a trial that will be held on March 25, 2024.
This date in in the middle of a busy campaign season and will force Trump to take a break from his re-election efforts. It is not clear how long this trial will last and whether Trump will testify on his own behalf. The former president has pleaded not guilty and denied he ever had an affair with Daniels.
A federal judge will rule on whether the case can be moved. Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers will have to obey the state judge and follow instructions in that court.
Moving a State Case to a Federal Trial is Rare
“This effort is extremely unlikely to succeed,” Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School, told the Associated Press. “It’s not even clear that this would be a particularly effective delay tactic.”
Trump’s lawyers are probably trying to see how they can push the date until they feel that Trump has wrapped up the GOP nomination for president. They may also think that if Trump is ultimately convicted in a federal court, he could someday receive a pardon from a Republican president.
This is one of many motions that Trump’s legal team is willing to try. Even if they are unsuccessful with their tactics, they can attempt to gum up the works with numerous filings.
Another law professor from the University of Iowa, Derek Muller, is skeptical of the venue change. “It is essentially just a change in courthouses.” Trump will still be prosecuted under state law, Muller told the AP.
Bragg said in a filing reviewed by Reuters that the “Defendant was charged by a New York county grand jury with New York crimes for falsifying the business records of private New York enterprises while reimbursing his personal lawyer for a pre-election expenditure,” Bragg said in the filing. “He does not plausibly meet the required elements to justify removal to federal court.”
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Author Expertise and Experience
Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.