Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office formally opposed an effort by former President Donald Trump to move his criminal case from New York state court to federal court, a move that would expand the potential jury pool outside of very blue Manhattan.
Bragg charged Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records last month in connection with hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal ahead of the 2016 election — an action widely seen as political retaliation. Bragg is linked to left-wing boogeyman George Soros in that the billionaire philanthropist donated to a PAC that pledged $1 million to support his candidacy, and he campaigned for office on the vow that he would go after the former president.
The argument put forth by Trump’s legal team is that the case cannot be tried in state court because the alleged conduct happened while he was serving as president, according to The Hill, which reported that federal law says “federal officers can move criminal prosecutions against them from state to federal court when the allegations relate to an official act and they raise a ‘colorable federal defense.'”
Trump’s lawyers argue that as commander-in-chief, he was a “federal officer.”
Prosecutors countered on Tuesday to say the case should continue in state court, writing that Trump’s “alleged criminal conduct had no connection to his official duties and responsibilities as President, but instead arose from his unofficial actions relating to his private businesses and pre-election conduct,” The Hill reported.
“Defendant’s alleged criminal conduct here is similarly divorced from any official duty or responsibility: the pre-election scheme and $130,000 payment to an adult film actress predated defendant’s inauguration, and his post-inauguration actions all derived from this pre-inauguration conduct, rather than any presidential duty, because defendant sought to conceal facts and to reimburse payments that preceded his time in office,” Bragg’s team said.
“Under these circumstances, defendant has failed to establish that the criminal conduct alleged here related to any acts performed under color of the Office of the President,” prosecutors continued.
Trump’s lawyers also said Bragg’s prosecution was politically motivated and federal courts have so-called “protective jurisdiction” to prevent state hostility to a federal officer.
Team Bragg pushed back, arguing: “This claim fails because ‘protective jurisdiction’ does not exist as a recognized basis for federal court jurisdiction, and because defendant could not satisfy the predicates for invoking that theoretical basis for federal court jurisdiction even if it did exist.”
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