A federal judge on Tuesday heard arguments from former President Donald Trump’s legal team to move his “hush money” case out of a Manhattan courtroom and to federal jurisdiction.
As reported by ABC News, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York heard about three hours’ worth of testimony and oral arguments from Trump’s team regarding his 34-count indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg regarding a payment the former president made to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 campaign.
But the judge indicated he wasn’t inclined to agree to make the case federal.
“The act for which the president has been indicted does not relate to anything under the color of his office,” Halverstein said during the hearing, adding: “I intend to write and issue a decision within two weeks.”
ABC News added:
Trump in 2017 wrote monthly reimbursement checks to his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, from his personal funds having nothing to do with his official duties as president, a prosecutor said during the hearing in arguing to keep Trump’s criminal prosecution in State Supreme Court in Manhattan instead of federal court, where Trump’s defense attorneys say it belongs.
“Writing personal checks, even if he did it in the Oval Office, is not an official act,” the prosecutor, Matthew Colangelo, said.
“The president’s duties are not all-encompassing,” Colangelo, added, according to ABC News. “We know the president can, even when he’s president, have personal papers.”
While Trump may not be successful in getting the case moved to a federal courtroom, one legal expert says his team has already made one “good move.”
Famed Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz argued that Team Trump filing a $500 million lawsuit against Cohen, his former personal lawyer, was the perfect strategy because he believes it’ll help his case and hurt Bragg.
Cohen testified before the Manhattan grand jury that indicted Trump on criminal charges of falsifying business records related to Daniels.
Trump pleaded not guilty to all 34 charges.
In an interview, Dershowitz called Trump’s lawsuit against Cohen a “legitimate move” and one that should have been done.
“Good move. Good move. First of all, lawyers should not be violating lawyer-client privilege, number one. Number two, he gets a discovery if he survives a motion to dismiss, and he is going to be able to find out things the government wouldn’t turn over to him in a criminal trial. So I think it’s a very smart move to go after Trump,” Dershowitz said.
“It’s very hard these days to hide things forever. With the internet, with social media, if you get the right people, you can get things that people think they have hidden. So, I’m glad we are going to get to the bottom of this. Look transparency is essential. If people have nothing to hide, they shouldn’t be worried,” he added.
Trump alleged in his lawsuit that Cohen violated attorney-client privilege by sharing confidential information and spreading lies about him “with malicious intent and to wholly self-serving ends.”
“Plaintiff has suffered vast reputational harm as a direct result of Defendant’s breaches,” the lawsuit says, which Trump attorney Alejandro Brito filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
“Defendant derived a significant benefit, to Plaintiff’s detriment and at Plaintiff’s expense, as a direct result of his breach of fiduciary duty, including, without limitation, the realization of substantial monetary gain in the form of compensation, advances, royalties, proceeds and/or profits received for his role in the writing, publication, promotion, and/or sale of the Books,” the lawsuit stated.
Trump is seeking more than $500 million in “actual, compensatory, incidental, and punitive damages” from Cohen and any profits that he made from his podcast and books