Former President Donald Trump has suffered a significant legal blow as his attempt to take the New York hush-money case to federal court has been denied.
The case revolves around a $130,000 payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, and Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records. U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein strongly rejected Trump’s arguments, saying “the evidence shows that this matter was entirely the President’s private matter, designed to cover up an embarrassing incident.”
“There is no reason to believe that the New York judicial system will not be fair and grant Trump equal justice under the law,” Judge Hellerstein wrote in his decision.
“Trump has failed to show that the conduct alleged by the indictment is related to or related to any act done by or for the president under official functions of the president,” they wrote in the order.
Trump’s claim that the case should be in federal court has been rejected, as the secret funding to an adult film star has nothing to do with official acts of the president.
In another legal blow for Trump, a different federal judge in New York denied his request for a new trial in the hidden money case involving Stormy Daniels, where Trump was found liable for sexual assault and defamation of author E. Jean Carroll, resulting in a $5 million award.
Trump’s legal team did not immediately comment on the possibility of an appeal, leaving the next step uncertain. The hush-money case is now set to proceed to the New York State Supreme Court in March 2024. Despite Trump’s claims of political motivation, Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, expressed satisfaction at the federal court’s decision, and reaffirmed his commitment to pursue justice in state court.
Trump has maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty to both the secret money case and a separate Florida federal criminal case related to maintaining classified records after leaving office. As the legal battle continues, Trump’s campaign has accused the New York judicial system of political bias, and an effort to block his potential re-election.
The outcome of the hidden money case assumes significance because if it goes to trial in March 2024, it would be the first instance of a former president facing criminal charges. As the legal proceedings unfold, the implications for Trump’s political future and the wider implications for the US justice system remain uncertain.